Professional.  Legal.  And Safe.

Whether you need just a few aerial shots to complement the visuals for your story, or something more...let's do it right... 

I'm certified by the FAA as a Remote Pilot for commercial use of small UAVs (drones).  And that means I can plan the shots you want for your project to make sure they are both safe and legal.  In my pre-flight check, I'll make sure there are no FAA airspace restrictions and I'll review aviation weather forecasts.  You should know that in some cases, we'll find that it's not legal or safe to fly a UAV at a given location, or at a specific time, or under certain weather conditions.  Or, I may need to seek FAA authorization or waivers to get the shots you want.  We may also need to seek permission from the property owner.

Well, all this "FAA stuff" may not seem like a lot of fun.  But it's just a part of our responsibility as professionals to do our jobs safely and legally.

The fun part is getting great aerials with a UAV.  Below is a video of a recent test flight I took along the California Coast. 

And below the video, you can check out a producer's pre-flight checklist and some "aerial storyboard ideas".  I hope these are useful as you plan your project.

Pilot & Editor: Brian Cardello

Producer's Pre-flight Checklist.

These are some pre-flight details to discuss with your pilot as you're planning your project:

  • Flight Date(s) & Alternate date(s).
  • Location permission.  (Private Property?)
  • Number of aerial shots needed (aprox.).
  • Total duration of flights (aprox.).
  • Landscapes only?  If people are in the shots, we'll need the usual "video release", plus permission to fly directly over these people (if needed).
  • Crew size & number/type of UAVs.


Aerial Storyboard Ideas.  You may not know in advance exactly what kind of drone video you want to capture for your project.  But it's a good idea to spend some time planning so that you can develop at least a "wish list" storyboard.  This will help your pilot keep the flights safe and legal.  And I think you'll also get more great shots without wasting precious flight time. 

  • Tripod in the sky.  There may not be a hilltop or tall building nearby to give you a great vantage point for a wide shot of your shoot location.  But with a UAV, you can get that shot...steady as a tripod, and from a great angle and elevation.  The lens doesn't even need to be very high in the sky, or very far away.  Your viewers may not even realize it's a "drone shot".  Which I think is kinda cool.
  • Easy Arrivals & Departures.  Now take that "tripod in the sky" and put it on a dolly, moving slowly closer to the scene, or moving slowly away.  These shots are quickly accomplished with a UAV, and look great.
  • Sky Slider.  Moving the UAV side-to-side is another simple way to add production quality to your aerials.
  • 45-Degree Ramp.   For this one, the pilot does an "Easy Arrival or Departure" and adds an elevation change of 45-degrees as the UAV moves away from or toward the subject.
  • Straight-Down.  Some landscapes and locations look absolutely fascinating from the sky, looking straight-down.  It's quick and easy to set this shot up and then grab the shot from multiple altitudes until you get the one that's just right for your editor.  And while we're at it, we'll move the drone straight up and away for a moving shot, and then descend slowly straight down again.  Always good to give the editor choices!
  • Crane Arm.  If you've worked with a crane or jib, you know what I mean.  For this shot, we might fly the drone straight up while tilting the camera down to keep the subject in frame. 
  • Crane Arm with Dolly-in.  And now we'll make a "crane arm" shot, and add forward movement.
  • Orbit.  Imagine a "sky slider" which orbits around a subject or object.  We can program the flight so that it's the right elevation, distance, and speed.
  • Reveal.  This technique can be applied to most of the moving UAV shots.  Just let the foreground block the view of the lens, and then reveal your subject as the camera/UAV makes it's move.

Okay, maybe you have some additional ideas?  If so, let me know know.  And in the future, I'll be posting some video examples of each storyboard shot. 

We're on our way now to capturing some great aerial footage.