Hollywood continues to consider drones for media production since they have the potential to save money, offer creative options and create a safer set. Drone-makers, rigging manufacturers and aerial production companies have joined forces to offer camera-equipped drones and services. However, federal law prohibits the commercial use of unmanned aircrafts. The FAA is currently reviewing a request by the MPAA to allow drones for use by the film and television industry.
“Unmanned aircraft systems offer the motion picture and television industry an innovative and safer option for filming. This new tool for storytellers will allow for creative and exciting aerial shots,” explains MPAA’s Neil Fried.
Others are more apprehensive, as the drones could potentially be dangerous and require extensive care with use.
“To conduct an operation like filmmaking with a UAV in U.S. airspace, users need a certified aircraft, licensed pilot and Federal Aviation Administration approval, according to FAA spokesman Les Dorr,” explains The Hollywood Reporter.
For instance, “The Expendables 3” used this technology while shooting in Bulgaria, as a drone flew out of a window and returned through the same window — a feat that a helicopter could not accomplish. HBO’s “Game of Thrones” has also made use of drones in the U.K.
“On ‘Expendables 3,’ the original shooting plan called for about 38 days of helicopter shots, but that was reduced to no more than 10 when the drones proved their versatility,” notes THR.
While a helicopter and crew can cost up to $20,000 per day, a drone and crew cost up to $8,000.
“It’s a great way to get new perspectives. Instead of using a jib or a crane, it allows you to have an infinite crane arm,” explains DP Dan Kanes.
Aerial Media Pros’ Patrick Smith adds, “the one-take shot is what the directors of photography and producers really like, the ability to follow something really close and then pull back or go high for a reveal.”