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EXTREME just at piloting the machine, but also in filming, and can demonstrate that they adhere to strict safety guidelines. Look for drone pilots and operating companies that are CAA or FAA Training Agency approved (in the UK this is often referred to as BNUC or RPAS approved) and have significant radio control experience. Of course, a skilled technical pilot isn’t everything. A keen understanding of filming and camera positioning is as important, as is the ability to work closely with the camera operator and director. At all costs, avoid hobbyists jumping on the bandwagon to make a quick buck. Taking the plunge In the hands of approved and licensed operators, there’s no doubt that drones are a fantastic filming tool and work well alongside helicopters to create amazing aerial sequences. The key is to use them to meet the objectives of the production in tandem with other technologies and techniques, rather than for the sake of it. Think about the delivery medium – web, TV or cinema. The higher the quality, the bigger the camera and lenses, then the bigger the drone. The heavier the camera, the shorter the fly time and the less agility you get. So make sure your aerial coordinator is brought in right at the start of the production process, as these decisions can significantly influence on sequences and budget. The best thing about the Intuitive Aerial’s Aerigon is that it can accommodate even the largest cameras, like Red Dragon or Arri Alexa with a proper cinema lens. However, now the Arri Alexa Mini is available, it’s clear that camera and drone technology is converging, which should have a key impact on the quality of filming in future. But as ever, the choice of lens and what package a drone can fly is critical. Other key considerations remain - the weather, proximity to an airport or other sensitive areas such as an embassy, police and power stations. Plus an understanding of drone regulations and how the approval process vary between cities and countries, so need careful investigation. As to what shots are best suited to drones, there are really no rules, it’s all about assessing the best tool for the job. For example, if you’re shooting an actor in a window, pulling out to a wide shot in a street, a drone is more suitable than a helicopter. On Into The Woods, I used the drone for some great sequences matching from a crane shot, through trees and up to reveal the canopy beyond. Experienced and qualified aerial filming companies that have embraced drones are transforming not only film and 64 | KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 100 APRIL 2015 TV productions, but also attitudes towards unmanned aerial system technology. Originally sold in as an affordable alternative to helicopter aerials, drones are delivering sequences that some productions could never have afforded without them, but working in conjunction with helicopters and other technologies and tools, not as a replacement, because they do different jobs. With the right knowledge and expertise, and the necessary guidelines and approvals in place, drones will continue to push the boundaries for filmmakers. What’s more, the industry will demand more from the technology in return and drive its further development, just has it has with other innovations. And that sounds like the perfect partnership. RECENT PRODUCTIONS USING DRONES BY HFS: Marvel’s Avengers – Age of Ultron: Drones were used for VFX plate work in and around city square locations, beneath an overpass, above the exterior sets and also for live action POV sequences involving a long approach over obstacles and through a portico Disney’s Into the Woods: The shot called for a match to a crane shot of the cast in a wooded clearing rising up through the branches and up and out to reveal the top of the forest canopy stretching away. Another shot approaching the woods from over firleds. Spectral: Drones were used to compliment the helicopter aerials and provide lower level aerials along with VFX plate work on set. Quick set up time of the drone meant some last minute requests from the director for quick approach shots on exterior sets could be fulfilled without complicated wire rigs. Now You See Me – the Second Act: Day and night VFX plates, on location reveals and interior tracking shots involving the cast travelling along a number of stairways and corridors in one shot. * Drones were provided, managed and operated by HFS on all these productions