One of the many benefits that comes from working with a professional film production company is that you’ll get full access to the best film equipment and top-notch technology that will boost the production value of your videos, and the positive perception of your brand.
Without the assistance of a professional film production company, you may not have access to key pieces of equipment, such as dollies, steadicams and sliders. Using them to their fullest abilities may even be a bit beyond your experience level or outside of your comfort zone.
While drones look like the fun toy airplanes we all grew up seeing or flying, today’s professional film production drones are actually pieces of specialty equipment. It can take a great amount of practice, let alone filming experience, to know what kind of shots you’ll be able to achieve with a drone and how they can be used.
Here is a basic guide to how drones are used in film production today. Get ready for lift off!
How are drones used for film productions?
You’ve most likely heard of drones before, and originally in the context of being used by the military; but, there are many different types of drones. Drones have become essential pieces of equipment in the film production world.
You know those eagle eye shots that you’ll often see in car commercials? The ones that look like they were taken from a helicopter tracking the car from the air? Or a clean overhead shot of your building, or any key location?
You can get those types of shots using a drone. Drones have become quite beneficial to production budgets. Only a few years ago, you would’ve had to have rented a helicopter to get these types of shots – something that would’ve cost a great deal more.
Types of Drones
There are many types of drones on the market today, many of which were built for the specific purpose of filming. The prices of these drones vary wildly depending on what types of features they offer.
Some of these drones have extremely advanced features, while some are a little more basic and are meant to provide the function of obtaining aerial footage and not much else.
The following are some of the different types of drones that a professional film production company may own or have access to:
DJI Inspire 1
The DJI Inspire 1 is a next-level drone used by professional film production companies. It provides more stability for the camera, which allows for smoother footage.
You’ll also have full control over its camera since it’s not fixed, which makes it easy to get different angles from whatever position the drone is in. There are three models to choose from that range from $3,099 to $7,999.
Depending on the model, the DJI Inspire 1 may include these features:
- Either a built-in X3 camera or an X5 camera
- The ability to shoot 4K at 24 to 30fps and 1080p at 24 to 60fps or 4K raw footage
- Between 18 and 25 minutes of flight time
- Independent flight and camera operation through the use of multiple controllers
- GPS positioning
- Intelligent flight features
- Easy-to-replace body parts
- The ability to use the camera in a handheld capacity
We choose to work with the DJI Inspire Quad Copter here at Grey Sky Films. Check out this behind the scenes video where you can see it being used!
The DJI Phantom
The DJI Phantom is one type of drone used for video production. Although the original Phantom series were built to carry GoPro cameras, the third series has its own cameras built in. The Phantom makes use of four helicopter-like blades at the top and carries the camera beneath it.
There are several models available, from standard to professional, that range in price from $699 to $1259. Depending on the model you choose, the Phantom has some of the following features:
- The ability to shoot 30fps
- The ability to shoot either 2.7K or 4K footage
- The ability to fly between 17 and 25 minutes straight
- Intelligent flight modes
- Follow me feature
The Parrot Bebop
Like the DJI Phantom, the Parrot Bebop is a beginner level consumer drone that is a popular choice for obtaining HD aerial footage at an affordable price. There’s only one basic model available, which costs $499 – but for $899 you can purchase it with a Skycontroller.
The Skycontroller is a remote control – but what makes the Parrot Bebop unique is that you can control it from your IOS or Android phone as well as your tablet. The following are the features of the Parrot Bebop drone:
- The ability to fly for 11 minutes straight
- A built-in camera that shoots 1080p footage at 30fps
- The ability to wear a headset and fly the drone in a first person view (FPV).
- A safety feature in which the blades will stop if they come into contact with a physical object.
One thing to keep in mind about the Parrot Bebop is that the camera is front facing. This can limit the types of shots that you can get from an aerial view.
The Freefly Alta
The Freefly Alta is one of the most advanced camera-carrying drones available. Unlike beginner and intermediate level drones, the Freefly Alta has six rotor blades.
Since it doesn’t come with a built-in camera, it allows you to attach your own camera at the bottom or top of the drone. It will cost you $8,495, but offers the following features:
- Between 10 and 45 minutes of flight time
- The ability to carry a camera up to 15 pounds
- The ability to fly at a 45 degree angle
While drones can get very specialized and expensive, even beginner level drones can help improve the quality of your video content. The more advanced the camera drone features are, the more you’ll benefit from flexibility and customization in the type of footage that you can capture. With the help of a professional film production company’s drone filming services, the sky’s the limit!