Drone Technology in the World of Entertainment

Entertainment As We Know It:

Since the establishment of the film industry, storytellers, screenwriters, and producers have always looked for ways to make movies all the more enjoyable. Movies and films enable audiences worldwide to feel almost every emotion, experience different cultures and develop their imaginations.  

Motion picture through advanced technologies has allowed the entertainment industry to continuously advance overtime. Throughout history, cinematographers and photographers alike utilized everything from motion toys, cranes, helicopters, and planes to capture beautiful aerial shots for unique movie scenes. While these technologies paved the way, they also made movie sets all the more expensive. Getting the perfect shot always requires multiple tries and numerous hands on deck. Fast forward to today: drone technology has made aerial photography much more accessible and affordable! Almost all production sets are bound to have a drone and drone photographer handy. These days, drone pilots manage to capture dramatic and cinematic views that could never have been imagined in the movie industry years ago. Additionally, drones gather footage otherwise inaccessible by on-ground camera sets. 

If you are a passionate drone pilot looking to take your talents to the next step, this post is for you. In this article, SkyWatch Pilot and Aerial Cinematographer, Rhyan Taylor, helps us get a better understanding of what it means to be a part of the entertainment industry!

SkyWatch.AI Goes Behind the Scenes

Rhyan explains that the secret to succeeding as a drone pilot for film and video production all stems from one thing: a passion for aviation, technology, and photography. Becoming a drone pilot is the perfect way to combine all of these interests. But there is a catch, to truly break into the business of commercial drone operations, you have to take these interests a few steps further. Pilots must acquire numerous flight hours, advanced operating and flying skills, familiarity with given equipment and obtain relevant FAA certifications.

And don’t forget: getting involved in this industry requires lots and lots of networking.

"Expressing your desire to work with people in the field is crucial in developing professional relationships. Getting the paying gig comes down to networking, marketing, professionalism, and to some extent being in the right place at the right time."

Safety and Professionalism

When it comes to landing the dream job, there are no shortcuts. Based on personal experience, Rhyan encourages pilots to practice and gain confidence in flying their drones so that they can truly perfect their skills. Rhyan also reaffirms the importance of thoroughly studying all FAA regulations. Pilots should utilize online and mobile map resources so that they can always be familiar with their flying location. Lastly, pilots should never take unnecessary risks and must always be respectful and mindful of others.

Once you have gained the proper skills and confidence, it will be much easier to reach out and connect with the right commercial drone companies.

"I practiced and persisted until I was comfortable flying around people and over personal property and at greater distances. Once I was confident and had a body of work established, I contacted a few commercial drone companies in my area and did exactly what I mentioned above. I recently worked with Skyecam as a drone tech/spotter for the Red Carpet World Premiere of the new Spider-Man!"
Spider-Man Premiere
Photo Taken at Red Carpet Spider-Man World Premiere

During the Spider-Man World Premiere, Sony Pictures had an 80-foot-long Spider-Man inflatable stroll down Hollywood Blvd to raise excitement. In order to allow millions of viewers to experience this one of a kind event, Sony Pictures decided to have a drone live-stream the event from above - making it the first Marvel red carpet event ever to have a drone flying over Hollywood Blvd! Read all about this event via Sony Pictures.

Skyecam, an industry leading Los Angeles based Drone Production company, was able to provide just the right service for this type of Hollywood level work. Rhyan's professionalism and drone skills made him an essential asset on the day of the event!

Check out more of Skyecam's work during the Spider-Man Red Carpet Premiere here!

What Drones and Equipment Should You Use?

Using drone equipment for film and video production covers a wide spectrum. While one job may use a small quadcopter, the other job may require a four-man team to manage the aircraft, gimbal, camera, media, etc.

Production for major feature films requires complex systems called heavy lifters. These drones can safely fly up to 55 pounds of gear. Pilots taking on such films must be prepared to use bigger and more elaborate cameras and lenses such as ARRI Alexa Mini or Angenieux Optimo. This type of equipment can cost as much as two luxury sports cars. Yes, you read that right - perhaps a good place to remind you about the importance of drone insurance on these jobs.

If you are taking on smaller productions, Rhyan notes that the DJI Phantom or the Inspire 2 system are just what you need. While these aircraft are capable of basic flight operations and do not require multiple operators, they are very much capable of delivering stunning, high-quality video and images. The quality vs. complexity paradigm is invariably thinning year by year. 

“With the development of drone technology, complexity of the UAV systems have decreased and image quality has greatly increased.”  

In other words, today's UAV operators can capture outstanding high quality images without necessarily breaking the bank! 

What Does the Future Hold?

Only time will tell how drones will continue to change entertainment as we know it. As the technology continues to advance, the demand grows, so we are confident drones in the entertainment industry are here to stay! For now, SkyWatch.AI Drone Insurance is proud to provide pilots the peace of mind they need when taking on one of these types of commercial jobs. We encourage all professional drone pilots to share their stories and help us build a strong network of commercial (insured) pilots. Want to have your most recent work featured as well? Contact us today at SkyWatch@skywatch.ai to tell us about your most recent project.


Make sure to check out of more of Rhyan's work below:

"The footage above was taken at Trona Pinnacles with a DJI Inspire 2 flying the X5S camera. This area is remote but very famous in film and television and some of you may recognize it from SciFi movies like Star Trek V, Battlestar Galactica, or Planet of the Apes. The otherworldly landscape is the result of the mixing of ancient alkaline lake water mixed with calcium-rich groundwater a long long time ago - we’re talking 11,000 - 25,000 years ago."

Please note: this airspace is restricted. Pilots must check Special Air Space notifications before launching any UAV.


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