August 19, 2013
Several notable films, including “Skyfall,” “Oblivion,” “Man of Steel” and “Iron Man 3” have used drone technology to capture spectacular aerial shots. Although there exist certain liability laws that govern how unmanned drones can operate in U.S. airspace, there are advantages for filmmakers. While productions have cranes to capture certain shots, drones have more reach and range. They are also more agile than a helicopter and can capture risky shots that would otherwise be generated by a computer.
“Ten years ago, when you wanted an action sequence you did them at 18 frames a second, then projected them at 24 — so that you could do them slow but it looks fast,” explains Emmanuel Previnaire, Academy Award-winning cinematographer. “Now everything has to happen fast. It’s become a very demanding industry in terms of motion control.”
Although drone technology can be immensely helpful to filmmakers, there are still risks to consider. If a drone crashed or caused damage to any persons or property, the consequences for studios would be grave. Therefore, certain regulations have been adopted to ensure that safety is constantly upheld.
“Every time a filmmaker wants to shoot in the United States using a drone, they have to ink a one-time deal with the authorities for permission. In other countries where the rules are more lax, the checks may be weaker or nonexistent,” reports The Washington Post. “And that’s led to an explosion in the international market for unmanned aerial footage.”
While drone technology is still developing in the U.S., its popularity is rapidly increasing in foreign markets, as well as with independent filmmakers.