Drones (used by SMARTS) are unmanned aerial vehicles that have been scaled down to four propeller “quadcopters” that are simple to fly. Most of the drones used for commercial video are very small, around 24 inches from prop tip-to-tip, and flight is assisted by GPS satellite positioning and even guidance. The drone we use has a gimbal-stabilized, high definition camera that can be controlled from a smart phone connected through a wifi network that is setup from the quadcopter to the remote controller and phone. Real-time flight video can be watched on the phone during filming, and adjustments to the camera view and settings can be made during flight.
Our applications for SMARTS-Force 1 (the first in our drone fleet) have been real estate, tv commercial production, and company “sizzle reel” productions for promotional videos that are deployed on websites, email campaigns, and social media posts. The aerial footage is incredibly stable and dramatically increases production values of each video through unique perspectives and motion dynamics. Home & property video is more inclusive and dramatic, adding a sense of majesty to beautiful architecture and surrounds. Filming with the drone can yield shots that were formerly too expensive or time consuming to capture, and low altitude, close quarters flights can provide producers and directors with many more creative shot angles and camera movements that really beef up editing options in post-production.
The small size of these drones, their toy-like characteristics, and basic safety features make the use of this equipment easy and safe for proximity to buildings and people, assuming responsible operators are at the controls.
The controller device and GPS data alert the pilot if the quadcopter enters restricted air space, and sensible deployment (or a no-go decision) can manage risks during production. Very few rules or regulations exist at present to limit or foster drone uses for film, although it is expected that the FAA will develop regulations as the population of private and commercial drone users continues to grow.