Aerial Filming – Drones from the sky

I recently heard a popular topic-based radio show, in which the presenter and callers discussed the recent blight on our country that is Aerial Drones. Scary Daily-Mail style stuff was said – “how long before you are sunbathing in your garden, and a drone flies over your fence to film you in your bikini!…” and “If I see one flying over my garden, I will shoot it out of the sky…” clearly a no-news day.

In reality, high end aerial drones or “quadcopters” or even “Octocopters” depending on the number of props, have been giving us a unique perspective on the world for a while, it’s just that advances in technology have enabled companies to create smaller, much cheaper versions. You can now pick up a filming aerial drone from Amazon for around £300, enabling even the amateur hobbyist to get their mitts on one. The more money you spend, the greater the capabilities of the drone – longer battery life, the ability to view your footage on a device on the ground, heavier camera carrying capabilities etc.

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If you are planning a video shoot, a birds eye view of a subject can be a remarkably effective shot that adds drama and gravitas to a film. However, be aware. You get what you pay for.

We have seen the footage from the shop bought drones, and even with powerful shot stabilization in post-production, the footage can look cheap, shaky and, like the people using them to shoot, amateur. Real skill, a windless day and simple, controlled movements are required to get useable footage. Not to mention their tendency to lose signal and disappear…there is a good explanation and review of the DJI Phantom here…

There are also countless video-nasties on youtube where the drone has gone awol… A better option, and the route that professional video companies should pursue, uses much bigger aerial units. The heavy-duty drones are able to carry heavier cameras, with selectable lenses, better colour reproduction and recording formats. The BETTER companies also have a brushless gimbal attached, enabling the cameraman to control the camera with barely any noticeable shake – it truly is like having a tripod in the sky. The (qualified) pilot controls the drone, leaving a camera operator to remotely control the camera. The client can also see the shot on an external monitor, giving the client the opportunity to direct the lens in the sky. Awesome. Check out our recent blog video showing some footage of the amazing King Edwards school in Witley, Surrey…we used the guys over at Pegasus Aerial Imaging who did a great job!


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