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EXTREME HELICOPTERS VS DRONES The following comparison illustrates how the two complement each other, rather than being competing technologies. Which performs best in the following categories? HELICOPTERS Cost Quality of filming Confined spaces Variety of conditions Above 120 metres* Below 120 metres * Distance DRONES x x x x x x x *where locations and rules dictate. Quality and safety So drones are defi nitely helping to drive innovation in fi lmmaking, but for all their versatility, their size places restrictions on the types of camera and lenses they can carry. There are also issues over stabilisation making some elements of outdoor shooting a challenge, plus drones are restricted by law in the UK to operating under 400ft, and bound by an increasing number of regulations. This means they currently fi nd it hard to match helicopters in terms of quality. The traditional mainstay of aerial fi lmmaking, can operate in most climatic conditions and can carry full-size camera kit along with the in-air talent to get the most out of it, so there is no compromise on equipment or expertise. In fact, it is this level of expertise that currently also puts helicopters ahead of drones. Although there is a growing drone talent pool, there remains a gulf of expertise between the two technologies. In some jurisdictions and depending on size, anyone can ‘fl y’ a drone, whereas helicopter pilots need the required fl ying licence. Compounded with their remote controlled nature, this has resulted in fears over the safety of drones on set. This means that although directors and DOPs may be keen to use drones, executives are less ready to embrace them, as their starting point is “what are the legal implications”? With health and safety being of paramount concern in any TV and fi lm production, how can you ensure that drones are used with minimum risk and to best effect? If approached in the right way, there is very little to worry about, as countless successful and exciting projects featuring drones have proved. For example, In Disney’s Into the Woods, Spectral and Now You See Me – the Second Act, they are being used to spectacular effect. The answer is simple. Just as you wouldn’t employ any member of your crew without the necessary expertise, only choose a drone operator who is highly skilled, not 62 | KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 100 APRIL 2015 Images courtesy of: Intuitive Aerials SIX DRONE PARTNER ESSENTIALS: When sourcing a drone operator, look for: 1. Aviation qualifications if any 2. Filming expertise – for both pilot and camera operator 3. Strict health and safety guidelines 4. Track record working with production companies 5. Experience in achieving required shots and examples 6. CAA or FAA Approved (or relevant aviation authority approval in other countries)