Hiring a drone camera complete with operator and camera crew might sound like an expensive prospect, but drone hires actually offer a much more budget-friendly option than many of the alternatives.
For a start, a drone camera shot gives your production a professional look and feel, so if you are on the tightest of budgets, it’s an extravagance that is well worth making — even just for the sake of including an aerial tracking shot in your final edit.
Without any aerial footage, your production is limited to vantage points you can obtain from ground-level, or by filming from a fixed elevated position like a building or hillside — and these limitations are easy to spot when your finished film is seen alongside professional equivalents.
There are a few options to get aerial footage:
Crane-mounted cameras can give a swooping aerial shot by manoeuvring the crane arm, but getting the crane into position in the first place can be a major challenge, especially in remote locations, and you are limited to the range of the arm from any one fixed position.
Helicopters offer more freedom, but are expensive to hire and present their own challenges: the shadow of the helicopter on the ground below; manoeuvrability in enclosed areas; the difficulty of repeating the same shot more than once.
Drone hires give you much more manoeuvrability, still with the expertise of a hired film crew and ‘pilot’, but also with much broader accessibility to locations including where larger, manned aerial vehicles might not be permitted to fly.
When you hire a drone camera rig and a professional film crew to operate it for you, you are not left to try and get a professional standard of footage yourself using a hobbyist drone with a camera strapped on to it.
There are so many reasons why trying to do so would prove to be false economy: as a newcomer to drone piloting, it can be very hard to judge when you are flying too high, or too close to a populated area; even a light crash could cause expensive damage to the drone and to the camera equipment; and unlike professional drone camera equipment, you would be unlikely to have remote control over the camera itself.
With a professional drone camera crew, one person pilots the drone while the other directly controls the camera, allowing independent panning and zooming with an excellent degree of freedom, thanks to the special gimbals used when mounting the camera to the drone.
The pilot will only fly the drone where it is safe and legal to do so – so you will not face unexpected extra costs to repair or replace a crashed drone, or fines for endangering people and property.
Finally, drone hires allow you to pay for the amount of time you need to get the footage you want, and drone cameras are being used for everything from wedding photography, to real estate property images, to cinematic film and TV productions.
The reason why you need to hire a drone camera may even have a direct influence over the specific type of equipment you need, and again professional drone hire companies will be able to advise you on the best drone and camera for what you need.
As drone hire costs get cheaper and cheaper, and the standard of the finished film footage continues to rise, the benefits in terms of budget and schedule just stack up even more – making them a faster, cheaper way to get the kind of shots that were previously only available to the big film and TV studios.
Meanwhile for top-end budgets, you expect a top-end result, and hiring a drone camera crew can deliver value for money here too – it’s not all about cutting costs, by any means.
With drone camera rigs that offer 360-degree continuous movement, and tilting to 135 degrees beyond the vertical axis, you can get shots that are much more innovative and agile than could be achieved with any other conventional filming technology.
Cameras can film at beyond 4K resolution – up to 8K if it’s needed – while if you need a live feed of your footage for real-time television and film events, there’s the option of SDI-out broadcast up to 60 fps at 720p or 50 fps at 1080i.