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Old July 27th, 2015, 02:21 AM   #1
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An opinion on the use of drones.

What is your opinion on the effect of drones on traditional aerial filming.

I suspect the need for height and/or speed will be a deciding factor in selecting which tool to use for a shot.
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Old July 27th, 2015, 04:58 AM   #2
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Re: An opinion on the use of drones.

Any cheap and easily accessible technology that can take over the role of highly expensive and inaccessible technology is going to upset those offering the top end specialised service. Aerial filming has been available as long as aircraft have been flying, but only to those with very big budgets. Now that a cheap alternative is available, some of the roles of the high cost helicopter services can be afforded by even low budget productions. More importantly, aerial footage can be used that would have previously been impossible due to budget or location, as witnessed by use in news reports travel shows etc.

The productions that require big cinematic cameras, longer duration flying, higher altitude work etc will always need a large piloted platform, so the industry will have to reshape itself, and as Brian has said, get involved in their own drone filming to bring in lower budget work. The comments in the article about drone filming leading to bland, lower quality work is a little misleading, as training and experience in any sort of filming will lead to greater skills. You can't compare amateur fun footage from a Phantom with pro high end cinematic work from a helicopter.

The arguments have been the same across various fields, where cheap technology has opened up previously specialised and expensive markets. Even in our own video world, where editing a few years ago was something you hired an expensive facilities house for, just as you hired in big cameras etc. Photography of course, where film was king and photographers ruled. Now anyone can take hundreds of photos for no cost on their phone and photographers have to find different ways to use their skills. How about printing technology which was virtually wiped out overnight by DTP.

Technology moves on and what were once highly specialised industries have to adapt and don't just try to maintain their premium position by whinging and trying to enforce draconian legislation.

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Old July 27th, 2015, 02:57 PM   #3
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Re: An opinion on the use of drones.

Spot on post, Roger. Well stated and I have lived long enough to witness those examples you listed. I remember when the dot matrix printer was just, "unacceptable quality" for business usage. You had to be using a daisy wheel printer with fully formed characters. Meh. They were noisy and a lot more expensive. Dot matrix quality improved, and the daisy wheel printers became extinct.

Stringers used to be able to make a living, supplying independent coverage to media outlets. Now, everyone has a cell phone camera that didn't cost them an arm and a leg. Plus, they want their 15 seconds of fame so they are more than happy to give free video to the tv so they can see their name in the credits.

The behemoths of any industry are always threatened by faster and cheaper competitors and they go out of their way to defend their stance while discrediting the newcomers.

And that's why many here in the states, feel that the FAA suddenly stuck their nose into aerial imaging by small UAVs because someone with a lot of skin in the game was losing out to this technology. It makes for an interesting philosophical argument when the FAA claims it's for safety reasons and yet taking the same photo/video from the same location, with the same multirotor, under identical conditions is no safety issue at all if you are just a hobbyist. That's the part that leaves me wondering what the real issue is.

But I don't want to venture into a political discussion since we don't do politics here at DVINFO. I believe we are just witnessing another revolution in the free marketplace.


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Old August 5th, 2015, 12:21 PM   #4
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Re: An opinion on the use of drones.

What you guys are saying is true. I do a lot of air to ground real estate and development work and I always use helicopters. The drone thing is obviously a growing market, but it doesn't affect the type of work that I do because my clients are expecting extremely high quality files/video. I shoot Canon 1DX and Nikon D810 bodies, along with a Sony FS/7 and an X70. An operator is going to have to spend 40K up to come close to that end product which thins the herd pretty quickly, then you still have perspective issues,etc.

My son bought me a tricked out Phantom three years ago and every time I open the case, all I see is liability, so I close it. Too bad because he spent four grand on the set up, which brings my cost per flight hour to about $1,000 so far.
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Old August 6th, 2015, 01:19 AM   #5
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Re: An opinion on the use of drones.

Different tools for different jobs really.

I've done a lot of helicopter based filming over the years and had some terrific results. My role was not as a camera operator or pilot but as a producer with a list of locations and shots to be achieved. Due to the high cost of this activity this requires careful planning, waiting for the right weather, booking the right company and careful co-ordination of any specific activity to be filmed on the ground.

The advantages of a Helicopter are that it can travel considerable distances at a relatively high speed allowing one to capture numerous locations in one hit to a very high technical quality utilising cineflex Ikigami systems. In one session I captured images of 10 architectural locations in the north of England.

And you get to fly around in a helicopter and get paid for it which can't be bad. But not all clients can justify the high costs which is where the very recent accessibility of UAV systems come in. A drone based camera operated by a skilled pilot offers huge creative opportunities. Drones can get lower and closer than a helicopter. They are far cheaper to operate and very accessible to production companies at different levels of optical quality.

Having completed my training and been awarded a CAA permission for aerial work certificate I'm now able to offer 'in-house' aerial shots as a bolt on to a standard days filming packages offering an affordable aerial option to our clients. But what I can achieve with my DJI Inspire 1 in no way competes with what can be acquired using a helicopter based platform. They are simply different propositions.
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