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NEWS CAPTURE & PRODUCE by Will Strauss “ Camera drones are all the rage at tradeshows. At NAB they had their own netted area. IBC will be awash with them too no doubt. Previously I thought they were something of a gimmick: toys for boys (with nothing better to do). But the more time I spend learning about them the more I am starting to be convinced that putting up with the eternal humming of their propellers is worth it. During a test flight put on by Alias Hire in June I saw first hand the quality of the images and the ease with which they can add on-screen value to a shoot. Even with the additional staff required (pilot and gimbal operator) it is certainly a suitable and cheaper alternative to a helicopter. The fuel savings alone are huge. But it could also supplement a crane or jimmy jib shot and occasionally replace it. They go fast enough to do a follow shot of a moving vehicle too. There are definitely creative possibilities. The Leeds indie True North has recently bought a drone to use on its property programmes. So, there is a market for them, even if it might be a bit niche. One of the few downsides to drones is that you cannot use one anywhere you like. London, for example, and other built-up areas are a no go. The current standard permission from the Civil Aviation Authority allows the drone to be no closer than 50 metres away from any structure or person that ‘isn’t under your control’. That is quite a restriction. As an example, if you want to fly over a road, you have to get permission to close that road. There are other limitations too. There is no universal gimbal, which means you need lots of different ones if you want to use different types of cameras. You’ll need a spotter if you’re going to be flying long distances (the legal limit if 500 metres away from the controller). And the battery life means that 10 minutes is all the time you’ll get in the air. But that is probably enough in most circumstances. At the same time, there are an awful lot of consumer products out there. If Kit Plus can offer any advice it is this: ask the experts. Drones might look like toys but there are lots of regulations and those things will have your arm off. As sailors say, you should not fear the ocean, but you should never forget to profess respect to it. The same certainly applies to drones. “ Drones Broadcast equipment rental firm Alias Hire has added a camera drone to its inventory. The DJI Spreading Wings S1000 is being made available for hire complete with Zenmuse gimbal plus controllers and other accessories. The flying filming device is capable of carrying a Canon EOS 5D Mark III HDSLR camera at speeds of up to 50mph. It can operate, legally, over distances of up to 500 meters away from the controller and as high as 400 feet into the air. The drone kit will be made available for ‘wet’ hire, complete with an authorised drone pilot and gimbal operator. 06 | KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 103 JULY 2015