THE ASCENSION OF THE CAMERA DRONE TO A PLACE OF CINEMATIC NECESSITY IS MIND-BLOWING - AND THE FOOTAGE IT'S CREATING IS RIGHT UP THERE TOO
When Amazon’s Jeff Bezos announced Amazon Prime Air in 2014, “a future delivery system…designed to safely get packages into customers' hands in 30 minutes or less using small unmanned aerial vehicles” – we officially entered the Age of the Drone. A year later and without Skynet having taken over – the trickle down effects of accessible drone technology are causing ripples in the film industry. Haunting and eerie cavern vistas, super slow-motion action footage and epic landscapes are now all within grasp.
Historically – the only method to obtain quality aerial footage was as expensive as it was art form. Specialist pilots flying helicopters equipped with bespoke technology, like Cineflex camera systems, meant that aerial cinematography was reserved for top-tier productions with hefty budgets. The advent of drone technology – one element of the pro-sumer wave that resulted in the development of more affordable camera tech – means that now smaller productions have the capacity to shoot breathtaking aerial footage. We’re not talking low-fi tech like GoPros on DJI Phantoms here either – but powerful octocopters equipped with enough grunt to handle heavy RED, Arri and Phantom cameras. Because of their small size and maneuverability aerial footage of interiors is now possible – which makes drone footage particularly relevant to the property, hotel and hospitality industries.
So which drone is right for you? The first thing to consider is how much value aerial cinematography is going to add to your production. If the answer is "a lot" then it's worth spending up on a quality drone, camera and operator. If it's more of a nice to have than a necessity, think about going with a cheaper option. Essentially, the more money you set aside will buy you greater maneuvarability, which means more complex camera moves, and the capability to carrier heavier cameras, which means you can shoot in 4k and retain more colour data - perfect for productions where you see colour grading and colour matching with footage from other sources as important.