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Producing cinematographic shots like the action-packed ones that you see full of strong angles and death-defying stunts are expensive and risky at the same time. But, the emergence of drones has solved the issue of aerial cost per shot while still providing the public with beautiful and breathtaking imagery. Visual storytelling through the use of drones has almost become required for all filmmakers across the board. Here are 5 reasons why drones are here to stay in the film industry and certain ways to maximize their potential!

1. Versatility

When people associate drones with movies, they automatically think of aerial coverage of vast cities and miles and miles of luscious forestry. In todays day of age, drones are used for far more than just establishing shots. Drones can expand out to reveals, tracking, and a vast array of creative shots. In fact, in the recent blockbuster, Skyfall, the opening shot was done using a drone while 007 chases a terrorist across the rooftops on a motorcycle.

A classic method that many drone operators explore is the chase shot. This is done by usually having the drone overhead, chasing and tracking the subject. It gives the audience the feeling that they themselves are chasing the subject. Simply orient the drone overhead, ahead, or behind the subject and be sure to keep a relative distance between the drone and the subject.

2. Drones save “boat loads” of money

Ask any director or project creator and they will tell you the biggest drawback is budget. Drones eliminate the need for expensive tools such as cranes, jibs, and tracks. High end drones will take up about a tenth of the space as traditional film tools and allow a great deal of maneuverability and shiftiness that cranes and tracks don’t have. In addition, the setup time for a drone is a lot faster than most tools used on production sets, and as they say, “time is money.”

3. Drones are a tool

The awesome aspect of drones is that they are a very versatile tool for filmmakers. Make sure you realize their potential, but don’t get carried away with their awesome feats. Stay true to your story first, and if you see that a scene can be enhanced with a drone-then by all means!

For example, an excellent use for a drone would be a reveal shot. By using the drones ability to quickly ascend, you can reveal vast landscapes, tall skyscrapers, or even acres and acres of forestry. Drones have the ability to climb hundreds of feet, whereas cranes and jibs are limited to a certain height.

4. Scouting is key

As exciting as drones are, they require a good amount of prep time before the actual shoot. The operator needs time to test, inspect, and shoot 24-48 hours before the actual shot to get the scene completely down. With changing weather conditions and lighting situations, the operator must account for all variables before the shoot just in case of an inflight emergency. Give yourself or the operator plenty of time to prep beforehand so that during the live shot, it goes as smoothly as possible. It will not only save you money and time, but also produce a higher quality shot.

5. Stay up to date with drone rules/regulations

With the rules and regulations for drones always changing, make sure to stay up to date with the latest announcements via the FAA. With certain restrictions in place for commercial or recreational drone usage, it is important to follow all the laws associated with drone flight. Check out this article describing the necessary rules/regulations for drone flight.

Feature image courtesy of Jason Blackeye

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