Drones: The 7 Most FAQs

By 28 November 2016Video Production
Drones, Wellington, Queen Margaret, Hamish Johnson, Flying Saucer

Earlier this year, Flying Saucer jumped onboard the drones bandwagon and purchased our own in-house drone.

We decided to go for something called the DJI Inspire X5 Raw, which is jargon for ‘the best out-of-the-box drones combo on the market’.

img_1157-1Up, up and away!

We got plenty excited, took it out of the box, then proceeded to get flat-out on other jobs not requiring drones for several months. Whilst this has been a bit like being a kid in a tamper-proof candy store, it has meant we’ve spent a bit of time on the other side of the drone game.

Words like Workplace Safety, 101, Risk Management Plans, Certification were suddenly being thrown around the office and it would be fair to say we have learnt a great deal over the last few months.

Alongside us learning how to get great pictures whilst operating safely, we have been dealing with client enquiries and their questions about drones, a lot of which seemed to be similar. So we thought the best thing to do would be to share what we’ve learnt.

1  – Can anyone fly drones?

Theoretically yes, provided they are of sound mind and body. However, “are they covered by liability insurance or workplace safety?” is an entirely different question.  If someone is using sentences like “we’ll just put it up and no one will know,” then this is the kind of thing that makes the newspaper if there is an incident.

2 – Whose permission do I need to fly drones?

You need to have the permission of the landowner whose property you are flying above eg. if you are flying above a park, you need to have the permission of the local body/council who owns the land.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-11-08-48-amWe were able to get some beautiful images of the rowing team from Queen Margaret College after obtaining permission to fly over the harbour from Wellington City Council and Airshare. We had to call into the helicopter pad to ensure we downed our drone while any choppers were taking off or landing.

3 – Is it easy to get this permission?

All councils and property owners have their own operating rules and regulations but as a general rule, they will at least require you to fill out a risk management form, have operational safety procedures in place and log the flight on the Airshare website.

4 – What about other things that fly around (like planes)?

New Zealand airspace has a range of uncontrolled, controlled and no-fly airspace.  The best thing to do is to work with your drone company to figure out where you want to be flying and then go to www.airshare.co.nz to look at the permissions and guidelines.  No matter where you are flying, you need to know what’s happening in that airspace and follow the best practice for that space.

4 – What about weather?

Drones tend to like calmer weather and not the rain (unless you have a really beautiful and expensive weatherproof drone).

5 – What makes up the cost of a drone shoot ?

The actual flying of drones, which may only take up 30 mins to 2 hours time, is a small portion of any job. Other things that happen are:

A) Client meeting to figure out whats required for the filming – date, location, shots required, potential risks (eg. airspace usage, crowds, nighttime shooting etc).

B) Airways search, property permissions and risk management submissions (all paperwork that can take a few hours).

C ) Recce and pre-flight if required

D) The shoot  (1 -2 operators plus a spotter if legislation requires it)

E ) Footage editing, data storage and backup.

6 – Are they worth it?

Oooooooh yes.  Well, we think so! And the clients who have worked with us think it adds an incredible amount of production value to any shoot.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-11-06-36-amOverhead shot of the Cub Cadet ride-on mower allowed us to show off its insanely tight turning circle! 

7 – How much will it cost?

It can vary from job to job and depends on a number of things like whether we are already shooting a job with you or not, how complicated the airspace is and what is required to capture. In other words, give us a bell for an obligation-free quote and we’ll sort you out as best we can.

img_1149-1The best seat in the house.