SUA use in the creative area has exploded in recent years, as the technology has become more robust, technologically advanced and affordable. Gone are the days when aerial filming required the use of a helicopter or light aircraft. SUAs have become firmly established as the tool of choice in this space - indeed the DJI products we use deliver 4k film footage at 30 frames per second and still images of 20 megapixel resolution, which are of sufficient quality for the vast majority of client requirements.
'News' and 'Personal' are listed simply to demonstrate the wide possible uses of SUAs, and are services which 330airial does not provide - the reasons being that the main News providers have their own in-house SUA operators, and that many professional photographers operating in the Personal market have developed their own SUA capabilities as part of their complete service offering.
I'm interested in delivering all of the other services, however.
Click on an icon, or the menu on the left, for information on different SUA creative applications
Sporting applications for SUAs are as obvious as they are ubiqitous - just about any outdoor professional or amateur sport you can imagine (and some indoor ones too) have the potential for filming and photographing via SUA. Whilst safety concerns relating to proximity to large crowds of people are of paramount concern, drones have been used to film (to name a few):
Drones were also used extensively in helping to deliver footage from the many events in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Drones are also used extensively in the advertising field. Given their relatively low cost/high quality output, they are effectively helping to raise the quality of adverts and marketing material for smaller and mid-size businesses, who traditionally haven't had the same kinds of marketing budgets as larger companies. It's now relatively easy for all companies and organisations to create high quality adverts and advertising material - whilst drone footage is the start of the process, video editing skills are also needed to assemble the footage in to the desired finished product.
A good SUA pilot needs to also have a director's eye, as well as editing skills, to be a 'one stop shop' for clients who are looking for a complete solution at an affordable price.
'Memory capture' is a particularly poignant creative use that has been found for SUAs. For people suffering from dementia, or in palliative care, drones have been used to record - and in some instances broadcast live to them - footage of locations that have had a significant importance in their lives, or have a special meaning. Any footage recorded can be viewed at any time by the client, allowing them to revisit these important places, and jog or revive fond memories of times gone by.
Whilst this concept can be extended to anyone who wants a high definition record of a place from a drone's eye, the fact that such images can be transmitted live to people at the end of their lives means that, to me, this is a particularly worthwhile use of the latest SUA technology.
The 'birds-eye view' aspect of SUAs means they are ideally suited to filming and photographing animals. From the 'Business Uses' part of this website, we've seen that they are regularly used in a farming sense to monitor herds of animals, their movements and their grazing patterns. However, they can also be used for more creative applications. Series such as the BBC's critically acclaimed 'Blue Planet II' made extensive use of UAVs, capturing never before seen footage of seals, whales and dolphins.
Animal welfare organisations and charities can also benefit from using drones in terms of creating high quality marketing and advertising material to help raise funds and update supporters in an engaging and attractive manner.
Some of the earliest adopters of SUA technology were professional photographers, who very quickly grasped the power of using drones to capture images from different perspectives. From spectacular sunsets over icebergs to molten lava flowing in to the sea, there's no aspect of photography that hasn't been enhanced by the use of drones. In the amateur photographer space, we've even seen the rise of the 'drone selfie' - and the lauch of a drone (the DJI Spark) specifically targetting this market.
My interest in drones started from an amateur photographer perspective. I'm particularly interested in landscape and 360 degree panoramic photography, and wanted a drone to take photographs and shoot high quality video footage from the higher perspective they afford. Once I'd spent some time using the drone, I came to the conclusion that there was so much more that could be done with it, and many more people and organisations that could be helped - hence 330airial!
The aerial filming platform offered by SUAs has been seized by both hands by filmmakers across the globe. Impressive tracking, first-persion-view and scenery footage is delivered by a whole manner of SUAs, from relatively simple drones to expensive, cinema-film quality film industry drones costing tens of thousands of pounds. Whilst battery life, and by implication flight time, is limited, the ease with which batteries can be swapped and recharged means that filming with drones is a relatively simple process.
For large scale drone filming operations, the roles of pilot and camera operator tend to be split, allowing each person to concentrate on their specific taks. However, for most other operations, one individual is able to operate both the drone and its camera, making use of the multitude of modes and applications available on the drone, and in the software/app markets.
The use of SUAs in news-gathering has changed remarkably in a few short years, moving from paparazzi-style snaps to becoming valuable tools in the reporting process used by journalists and loved by news editors. Indeed, reporting using a drone to capture footage has become known as 'drone journalism', with classes being taught in this new subject.
The aerial perspective afforded by drones can help add an extra dimension in telling newsworthy stories, and indeed in the making of documentaries. Gaining footage of disaster sites, or dangerous locations, is made relatively straightforward through the use of SUAs, such as drone footage recorded of the Fukushima nuclear reactor in Japan, or the immediate area around the Chernobyl disaster area in the Ukraine.
It's natural for people to want to capture important life events - and since the introduction of the personal video camera, it's been relatively straightforward to do just that. As technology has improved the quality and nature of the recording devices, the range of events covered has also increased. We've now reach the point where video blogging, or vlogging, is seens as a normal broadcast medium, with its proponents able to deliver a high quality output for minimal cost.
SUAs feature prominently in the next generation of vloggers, but are also used by established photography and videography specialists to help their clients capture birthdays, weddings, christenings, and any manner of personal, family or group event. Safety considerations remain the main factor in recording any event involving people or groups on a close-up basis, but it is possible through a mixture of careful planning, tight organisation and the use of technical safety features to undertake this kind of work, capturing very personal footage to be preserved for posterity.