Drones among us: the gear

Whether you realize it or not, you’re seeing more and more shots filmed with unmanned aerial vehicles (commonly referred to as drones). They’re silently making their way into sports coverage, reality TV programs, and even real estate listings. Read our intro to the subject here.

In the first of the series, we’re covering the basic gear. You’ve got:

Controller: Apart from the extra knobs, this looks like it belongs attached to a Nintendo with a cord. Speaking of, gamers will have a head start here because keeping the copter airborne (let alone steady and facing the direction you intend) requires intense coordination.

Screen: Built into the controller, this lets you see what the camera sees. Beginners don’t get much use out of this because their eyes are locked on the airborne gear they dropped a couple grand into (and don’t want to see drop to the ground).

Copter (as in helicopter): This is the vessel that gets the camera in the air. In this case, it’s a DJI Phantom that was retrofitted for use with a camera by the folks at DSLR Pros.

Gimbal: This goofy-sounding device serves a serious purpose—stabilizing the shot and eliminating the jello effect.

The Camera: This part is up to the user. At this point, the most common camera in flight is the GoPro, but there are copters that fit larger, heavier DSLR cameras.

Stay tuned for more. In our Drones Among Us series, we’ll be covering pros and cons, security and legal issues, and tips from early adopters.

If you want to explore using a drone for an upcoming shoot, our friends at Crew Connection have crews on the tarmac ready for takeoff. Just drop them an email or give them a ring here.

About Crew Connection: Crew Connection connects you with video production crews across the country and around the globe. With more than 25 years of experience and thousands of shoots to our credit with film crew pros, you can trust our expert coordinators to match you with the right freelance video crew and equipment every time.

Drones among us: intro to the series

Whether you realize it or not, you’re seeing more and more shots filmed with unmanned aerial vehicles (commonly referred to as drones). They’re silently making their way into sports coverage, reality TV programs, and even real estate listings.

As an owner of the equipment himself, Freedom House Productions founder and principal Mark Isherwood has an eye for recognizing such shots, saying of a scene in Chicagoland that pans across a school’s roof: “Unless it’s a 1,000-foot jib arm, that’s a drone.”

Perspectives from a few hundred to a few thousand feet used to be limited by the length of a crane or the locations a manned helicopter could safely and legally fly. Aside from the logistical benefits of using drones, they also increase production value: A user can get a GoPro on its maiden voyage for a relatively minimal investment. With all their benefits (and for the sheer fun involved), drones are finding their way into hobbyists’ hands as well as into professional production houses, such as Freedom House Productions.

Stay tuned here on our blog, where we’ll be covering drones in greater detail in the coming weeks. In addition to breaking down the gear, we’ll cover pros and cons, security and legal issues, and tips from early adopters.

And if you want to explore using a drone for an upcoming shoot, our friends at Crew Connection have crews on the tarmac ready for takeoff.

About Crew Connection: Crew Connection connects you with video production crews across the country and around the globe. With more than 25 years of experience and thousands of shoots to our credit with film crew pros, you can trust our expert coordinators to match you with the right freelance video crew and equipment every time.