So You Think You Need A Drone Pilot?

Feb 11, 2019 -- Posted by : crew

Do you really need a Drone?

Firstly, is a drone the right tool for the job? It might sound an odd thing to say, but while drones can do amazing work, they aren’t right for every occasion. They are a no-brainer for condition surveys, mapping, surveying and modelling; they can create stunning general views and scene setting shots and capture a location from a completely new viewpoint. However, if you’re looking for a tool to capture interactions between people or pieces to camera then there are better ground based ways of doing it. Hiring a drone to film something that it’s not really designed for will likely result in the drone operator under-performing and the client being disappointed.

Planning is the key

Once you’ve decided that a drone is a tool you need, then this follows on to the next point – plan the shots you want. Drone pilots will be able to contribute with ideas according to their experience but the better the brief you can give, the better your results will be. A detailed brief will also allow the pilot to accurately plan, risk assess and flag up any potential issues before the day, avoiding any nasty surprises.

Safety First

Another consideration is safety of the drone flight with regard to property and the public at large as well as crew members. Apart from all the risk assement that goes into every pre-flight, there are times you will need more than just the pilot and a drone. Sometimes you may need to have a dedicated cameraman or 'spotter' who, as the name suggests, is on constant look-out (often in radio contact with the pilot or other crew) for any air or ground dangers that may develop whilst the pilot has the drone in the air.

Be Realistic on Timescales

Certain locations and projects will require more planning and consideration than others. For example, flights in congested or sensitive areas may require longer planning time for the relevant permissions to come through, and ensure that your footage is being legally obtained. It isn’t the drone pilot creating the delay but sometimes, bureaucratic wheels can be slow to turn, so factor this in with your planning to ensure that you can stay on schedule. A drone pilot with a clear brief will be able to advise you if there are likely to be delayed and should be involved in the project as soon as possible. Also don’t forget that skilled pilots are in demand and may be booked up in advance. We can't always drop everything and be on-site next day!

Watch out for the Weather

When it comes to timescales, it’s important to know that the weather also needs to be on your side when it comes to aerial filming and photography and not just from an aesthetic point of view. Rain and high winds will ground a drone and let’s face it, there’s never any weather guarantees in the UK. All drone pilots will watch the weather for the best opportunities but Mother Nature will do as she wishes so allow a little contingency for her capricious ways.

Not All Drones are Created Equal

The same applies to drone pilots – each will have their specialities and skill sets so always check their showreel and portfolio to ensure that they have the kind of work you are looking for. It may be worth asking questions about the kind of equipment that they have in their fleet, specifically the payload or camera and lenses that they can deploy, however, you can trust a professional drone pilots to only use the right kit for the job in hand.

Post Production

This is a really specialist area when it comes to video and so you need to decide up front whether your want your UAV pilot to provide unedited footage or the finished article. It’s time consuming work so you’ll need to allow additional time and budget if you don’t want to handle it in-house. There’s less involved in editing photographs but there will still be an overhead attached to it. Thermal images will need to be interpreted by a thermographer trained in understanding the results obtained, and what seems a simple photograph for a house/property will need to be edited for best results.

It's A Brand New World

The drone industry is still very new and so there can be a tendency to think that a camera in the sky and one operator on the ground are much like another. However, there can be the world of difference between them in terms of equipment, experience and specialisation. Drones can add benefit and production value to so many projects so the very best advice that we can give you is:

  1. Research your operators to make sure that they have experience in your project requirements
  2. Ensure you have briefed them thoroughly so you know it can deliver the quality you require from the most appropriate equipment
  3. Be realistic with your timescale, budget and plan for the weather
  4. Check that you are using a legal operator with the appropriate insurance and certifications. Don't just take their word for it...ask for proof!

This way, you will get exactly what you need to enhance and deliver your project.

If you have any questions not covered in the above article or would just like to chat with us about your project, please fee free to get in touch. We don't bite!

Original article courtesy of Drone Safe Register

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