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Drone…or Don’t?

Recently we’ve fielded a lot of questions about drones. Who wouldn’t want those beautiful sweeping aerials of their campus, facility, or property? Check out the spectacular shots from an event we produced at the Grand Rapids Public Museum and excerpts from a recently completed Pine Rest project in the video below. Using drone video is not as simple as you might think. That’s why we’d like to share a few thoughts.

There are some pretty strict rules about the use of drones. There are rules about where drones may take off and land. There are rules about where drones can fly… or not fly. For example, drones are not allowed to fly over places like power stations, water treatment facilities, or correctional facilities. The airspace around airports is a big no-no. We could go on, but instead we want to talk about the production value when opting for drone video.

To begin, we are careful about choosing a drone operator. You want someone who has training and understands that a drone can be dangerous if it gets too close to people or structures. Anyone who is flying for a commercial purpose may not do so without “the express permission of the FAA.” You want to be sure you don’t end up with a problem and a seasoned operator will know the rules, have the appropriate equipment, and get the best video.

Second, while aerials may sound like a good idea many locations look pretty flat and downright ugly from the air. You want to think carefully about what will show well. Does the area have some unique features from the air, elevation changes, or interesting landscape? What is the age of the buildings or facilities you want to capture?  Do you need to do some sprucing up?

Third, consider the weather and time of day. Often people don’t plan ahead and then want to shoot when leaves have fallen off the trees or they have not yet bloomed. Don’t be impatient if your producer advises shooting when the conditions are better. The best time of day to shoot is early morning or later in the afternoon – not at midday. This might mean you have to make some accommodations on the ground such as getting people to move out of parking lots or moving equipment.

Fourth, be very thoughtful about the purpose of the video. What are you trying to convey? Do you want to show the expansiveness of a facility? Is it the proximity to other locations? Green space? If you understand the purpose you can create a great shot list in advance. It is worthwhile noting some of the very best drone video is captured during takeoff and landing.

For a few additional drone tips and tricks check out these articles from a client of ours – Wiley Publishing’s