Let’s face it… the film industry spends a lot of money. Everyone wants to cut costs though, but we’re still using huge jibs, dolly’s, cranes, etc… These things not only cost money to rent, but the man-hour costs are very high. On a good day, it takes about an hour to set up rails, balance jibs, set the camera gimbals, and the costs of dedicated PA’s to watch the area to ensure no one gets hurt.
Enter UAV’s (aka drones). For the time it takes to block the shot, and unpack the UAV, you can be in the air and shooting and taking the most of the valuable light. It takes only three people (Chief Pilot, Visual Observer, and payload operator) for the entire operation. This obviously cuts down on costs right there.
What does this have to do with jibs, cranes, dolly’s and such? Well, when people think of UAV’s they immediately think of dramatic aerial shots, swooping in on a car driving down the roadway as an establishing shot. What most people don’t understand is that new UAV technology means a very stable camera capable of taking steady shots at any altitude… even ground level. This means a dolly shot taking an hour to set up can be done with a drone in a manner of minutes. UAV’s can track the same as a dolly shot and also has the ability to move in more than a straight line… in fact a UAV can also be used as a steady cam, following the scene anywhere it goes. The possibilities are endless. In fact, UAV’s can go from a ground level walk and talk to a 20 foot eye in the sky crane shot in less than a minute. All this is done in 4K or better video quality.
The versatility of UAV’s hasn’t been fully explored in mainstream film and tv yet, but once the industry catches up to the technology, I suspect there will be more and more UAV utilization in the future. Whether your goal is to cut costs, or just decrease setup times, UAV’s are the way to go.
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