The most frequently requested aerial service is photography and videography. Modern “drones” (or UAVs — unmanned aerial vehicles) are capable of capturing fantastic, unbelievable footage and still photos from the air, and can go places that traditional aircraft cannot go, such as inside buildings, under tree canopies, and within congested areas. The photo and video can be gathered more economically, and much faster than aerial imagery taken from traditional aircraft such as fixed-wing airplanes or full-size helicopters.
The economy and quality of the footage makes drones a perfect solution for real estate marketing, event photo/video, sports, and much more.
Even though the lightweight “drone” aircraft are very versatile, there are some limitations and safety factors to consider before hiring a drone operator for your photo and video needs. Here are some of those current limitations, even though technology gets better every day.
Lenses & Field of View
Drones generally fly with somewhat wide lenses, and the field of view is fixed, meaning we can’t “zoom” in real time during the flight. To get a closer view, we have to physically fly closer to the subject. We have some newer products in the works that will allow us to change lenses to create a more “cinematic” shot. Let us know your goals ahead of time, and we’ll match your project with the right lens.
Distance from Operator & Altitude
Under average conditions, a multicopter can fly about 0.5 to 1 mile from the operator. FAA rules require that the aircraft stay under 400 feet above-ground-level (unless flying near a structure, in which case we can fly higher) and be within visual line of sight from the operator at all times. Most of the time, because of radio and visual interference from trees, buildings, etc., the flight should not be expected to go further than about 2,500 feet from the operator.
For fixed-wing drones, the range is much further, but the imagery is mostly limited to still photos with this type of aircraft, and the visual line of sight rules still apply.
As for ceiling, staying under 400 feet AGL is not really a limitation for aerial photo and video for most purposes. We find that the best looking footage is taken at altitudes no higher than 100 feet AGL (above ground level). So the 400 foot restriction is only mentioned as an FAA rule, and really isn’t a limitation as far as our photo and video goes.
Clouds can reduce the area that we’re able to legally fly within. The FAA rules state that we must be at least 500 feet below the lowest clouds, and must maintain 2,000 feet horizontal separation from the clouds. This is to prevent accidents, and is a rule that shouldn’t be a problem too often, except on bad weather days.
Safety is always our number one priority. Not only do we want to be sure that all of our flights are safe and don’t put any people or animals in harm’s way, we also want to ensure that no property is damaged — including our own equipment. So we don’t ever do anything to risk life, limb, or property. FAA rules also prohibit flying over ANY people that aren’t actively operating the drone, such as at concerts or outdoor events. We have the final say on whether or not the requested job or project puts anyone or anything in jeopardy, and we reserve the right to refuse any request for what we deem to be unsafe.
We generally have no problem flying under tree canopies, over water, or around power lines, but we do have to be extra careful when doing so, and if we deem it to be too dangerous, we won’t be able to make that particular maneuver.
In average conditions, a single battery on our drone will last anywhere from 10-25 minutes, but most flights are on the short end of that spectrum. We do carry at least five batteries with us at all times, but depending on the usage during the day, not all batteries will be fully charged when we arrive to your location. We can charge batteries on-site, but sometimes we do have a little downtime while charging that we can use for other photo and video purposes, for planning, or for breaks.
Under Part 107 of the FAA regulations pertaining to drones, we must request a clearance from the FAA for any operations within Class B, C, D, or E airspaces. How do you know what airspace your project is located within? Please give us the exact location of your project long before the day of operations. We will check the navigational charts and make the requests for clearance, if necessary. Please note that at this time, the FAA recommends giving about 90 days to process the clearance. If we don’t get clearance and your project is within B, C, D, E, or other restricted airspace, we will not be able to fly.
To inquire about pricing and booking, please email Aaron Yates, owner/operator, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Email is always the best way to reach us, and is much preferred over phone calls to avoid endless phone tag. Or call our office to make an appointment to meet or speak with Aaron about your project: 830-955-5510.