Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles which are either remotely piloted or are flying autonomously based on a pre-set flight plan. These unmanned aircrafts come in many different shapes and sizes and are used primarily for military purposes. However, drone technology is now frequently being deployed in fields as diverse as agriculture, journalism, insurance, environmental protection, pest control and especially the movie industry.
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These drones are smaller, more manageable and much cheaper than helicopters and can be quickly transformed into flying machines with built-in cameras which transmit images and data in real-time to the director’s viewing screen on film production sets.
According to industry insiders, the costs of hiring and maintaining a helicopter pilot and crew on a movie set is often more than $12,000.00 per day while the expenses incurred on a drone pilot and requisite equipment could cost about $2,000 daily. Hence, it is now possible to produce stunning images with relatively little money. This creates a great opportunity for even more independent, low-budget films to be made without having to deal with the logistics nightmares that come with handling a helicopter or crane crew.
The use of drones for filmmaking is not restricted to low-budget movies as many Hollywood heavyweights have been known to have used them in recent years. In fact, many Hollywood blockbusters were shot using drone technology. Martin Scorsese used the drone for the movie “The Wolf Of Wall Street”, and Sam Mendes used it for “Skyfall” movie for the great effect on their movie projects.
Safety is the Key
Besides the setup time for shooting with drones being significantly shorter than with helicopters, there are lots of scenarios where it would be very risky and complicated to shoot with choppers. A good case in point would be attempting to record a close-up video footage from the crater of an erupting volcano or a scene involving a chase where one character pursues another from one building through a window and out through another in one seamless scene. Drones would be best suited for such situations.
Safety is another critical issue that drone technology helps to reduce the hazards. This is particularly the case in the case of action movie sets where explosives are deployed, or fast-paced action scenes are to be recorded.
Needless to say, drones can significantly improve efficiency and productivity in the field of cinematography and it is no surprise that more producers around the world are taking advantage of their liveliness and lightness for shooting and capturing new angles which were, till now, nearly impossible to achieve.
The approval of the commercial use of drone technology on film production sets was given in September of 2014 by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). With the recent dramatic upsurge in the use of drones in the movie industry, it is evident that drone cinematography is here to stay.
Easy to Manage
Although the use of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones in filmmaking is still relatively new, the evolution of drones in the cinematic industry has had a significant impact on the way and manner in which movies are shot, and it is likely to revolutionize the film industry on a global scale further. Due to its novelty, it is estimated that less than 8 percent of all movie releases are shot with drones, but that figure is bound to rise as more studios get on onboard with the use of drone technology.
Like any emerging technology, the commercial use of drones continues to face many legal and regulatory challenges. There are a few copyright, safety and privacy issues associated with the use of photographic and film materials captured with the aid of drones.
The growing influence of drone cinematography is further attested to by the convening of films festivals all across the world to celebrate the art of aerial cinematography. One of such festivals is the annual New York City Drone Film Festival which honours the most innovative films made with the use of drones. At its inaugural edition in the year 2014, it received well over 150 movie entries from 19 countries.
These festivals serve as platforms where filmmakers can showcase their artwork to industry professionals and the wider public to demonstrate the artistic feats that can be achieved with these unmanned aircrafts.
With regards to the growing trend of drone cinematography, it is safe to say that the community of avid fans of drone cinema will continue to grow unavoidable for the predictable future.