As many of us know, the sUAV or “drone” industry is made of people from all walks of life and experience levels, and they have a myriad of applications for the technology. By far the leading application is that of aerial photography and video. Many who have years of experience in film production or photography may feel that this is just another tool in their bag of tricks and may not be aware of the pitfalls and problems they can run into while trying to get “the money shot” they crave. Many look at the ease of getting into the air and give little thought to what is at stake when they throttle up. Miles Weston penned this great article in Digital Film Making magazine, to help both operators and clients understand the capabilities and limitations of this new technology. He highlights Jeff Foster of Sound Visions Media in his story and discusses many aspects of running a professional production company that also does aerial photography.
Jeff Foster, an award-winning author and filmmaker/photographer, recalls seeing a segment shot where a helicopter flew through the Honopu Arch on Kauai’s Napali Coast. “Breathtaking” he says, “but we can do a lot better today with a drone and a 4K camera. And we can do it for a lot less money and a lot less stress on the filmmaker and the pilot.”
Foster should know because he’s been a trend-setting drone filmmaker for years; shooting events, documentaries and TV/movie segments.
Foster emphasized that getting a drone to shoot aerial videos comes at a price. That price includes the gear and the price of learning to get the most from both the drone and the camera.
“It’s not something you can do overnight,” he commented.
He noted that all too often, people buy a Phantom or other drone and think they’re going to go out and shoot a project the same weekend. They quickly learn – often crashing their drone and destroying or damaging their camera – that it takes a lot of time to learn how to master the controls, become a proficient pilot and even a marginally good aerial videographer/photographer!
Some filmmakers/photographers have lost control of their drones but managed to recover video of the ensuing crash. Others have lost them entirely. Drones have been known to fly off and not come back, no matter how hard the owner worked the controls.