Capturing Winter Olympic Footage From the Air Using Drones

You may have noticed that drones are being used this month at the Winter Olympics in Sochi to capture footage of ski and snowboarding events. While drones can cost upwards of $40,000, they are quieter and cheaper than using a manned helicopter. Also with drones, filmmakers can typically get much closer to the subject. While limitations currently exist due to regulations and concern of potential crashes, we should expect to see more use of unmanned aerial vehicles for sports photography in the future.

“Drones are also more flexible than cable-suspended camera systems, which are also present at the Winter Olympics,” reports Quartz. “While live transmission is tricky — it requires an extra transmitter, which weighs on the drone — [Remo Masina, who uses drones to film skiers for commercials] says he’s flown such devices at over 40 mph while delivering live, high-definition video.”

Masina suggests that drones are the future of sports broadcasting. One company has already developed a prototype drone that can automatically follow an athlete from just a few feet away, which opens unique possibilities for a sport such as downhill skiing.

“There are limitations: In many countries, drone regulations are still lagging behind the times, and it might not be clear to a broadcaster that they can be used legally,” notes Quartz. “Then there are concerns about crashes. But with the risks low and potential benefits high, it could be that sports photography will be one of the first uses of drones to go mainstream.”

The article includes video samples of footage captured by U.K. drone provider HeliPOV.