Drones. I’m going to be real with you. They intimidate me. I, in general, am clumsy, unstable (not emotionally, thank you very much) and should not be piloting anything. But, there are a few things I understand immensely: art, creative advancements, and laws—at least enough to break them.
I work for a production company that creates popular outdoor and building television shows. We are inundated with stunning drone shots. We use them in every act of every show—from a police chase to laying a roof on a tiny house in Alaska.
My veteran TV producer, Kevin Fay, said it best, “Drones used to be exotic, but now they’re expected.” Hell yes. Straight to the point. We, and our audiences, are spoiled and unimpressed. Sick drone shots cascade across our screens and we turn our backs to finish cooking dinner. Is there anything we can do to take this
art form to the next level?
How do we revolutionize something that was once a revolution in and of itself? There isn’t a simple answer.
When done well, these three things elevate aerial photography:
While we work in an extremely technical industry, we are artists. If you are a drone pilot, don’t allow yourself to slip into a pattern of comfortability. YOU ARE AN ARTIST. Clients come to you, not just because you can execute their vision, but because you can elevate it. If a client says “I want a drone shot of people stand-up paddleboarding on the lake,” well, son, I hope what you bring to the piece is some artistic vision.
Do you swivel the drone between multiple SUPers, providing rhythm and context, creating energy only drones can capture? Or, do you slowly follow one SUPer, ankles to forehead, smoothly gliding over the gentle stream communicating peace and harmony with nature? The vision and execution are up to you and the remote is in your hands. Remember, you’re not just a pilot. You are an artist.
So, I don’t speak tech. But, I recognize quickly when technology affects my field and allows me to be more creative. My aforementioned producer, Kevin Fay, introduced me to a man he labeled “a pioneer in the drone industry,” Jeff Scholl of Gravity Shots. Jeff is so skilled in three niche fields it’s hard not to envy him. He’s a pilot, videographer and skilled drone pilot who understands the technology he works with so immensely that he can actually improve the devices he flies to provide better quality video and more controlled, stabilized drones. He’s a trendsetter in the field who can capture images art lovers will lust over while manipulating devices technology nerds can geek out on.
You have to check out his site. Look at all his video examples and comment back if you’ve ever encountered a smoother drone that allows for more deliberate movements.
I don’t like rules. Some people live by them. The head of my department loves them. It keeps things functional, running smoothly, and so forth. But, if you’re a Producer afflicted with a budget, a writer chained to a word count or a drone pilot restricted by permits and licenses, rules become suggestions you’re not
interested in. However, in the drone world, broken rules are fineable and punishable by law. Whether used for recreational or professional use, there are specific requirements that vary by location. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to familiarize yourself with your local laws, even if you’re not the drone pilot.
There’s a big joke in the industry that drone operators break the laws more than “real” criminals. That’s all well and good on a guerrilla shoot if you’re willing to risk the consequences. But, if you want your production to be on the up and up then you have to follow the rules. Get your permits, fly within your zones and hire
a licensed professional.
Drones are allowing us to see the world from previously impossible heights and depths. From exploring volcanoes to capturing new angles of a dog playing Frisbee, the potential for creative perspectives is endless. As passionate, creative professionals the next artistic and technical advancement in the world of aerial photography is in our hands.
How can you push the limits and wow your audience with your next drone shoot?
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