Flying High


You’ve seen them on the news, you’ve seen them in the media and chances are, you’ve seen them flying above your head.  “Drones”, as they are commonly called have been making some headlines in recent months.  These nifty little devices can capture aerial video in what Brian Glazen refers to as the “sweet spot”.  He’s been flying for several years now, perfecting the art of not only piloting these gadgets, but also getting the perfect cinematic shot.  “I knew I wanted to start learning to fly a few years ago when our clients were calling for shots that required us to stay under 500 feet in the air”, Glazen recalls.  “We were renting helicopters for everything above 500 feet, but when we needed to get inside that 0-400 foot range, this was our best option.”

Knowing how to fly one of these copters is one thing, but it takes more than that to build a beautiful shot composition.  At Think Media Studios, we can proudly say that we’ve been flying since before these copters were available to consumers.  The recent “drone” related incidences and frankly, lack of common sense, has prompted us to share our knowledge and help people understand what to look for when choosing an aerial video company.

Questions to ask:

1.    Years of Experience – In our case, we’ve been flying for several years and waited about a 1.5 years before offering this as a service to our clients.  Safety is a major factor that should not be taken lightly.

2.    Insurance – How much liability insurance does a company carry – if they carry it at all?  Many companies do not carry insurance or, they simply don’t carry enough.

3.    Risk factors – what are the risk factors in using a copter for your shoot?  Are there people, buildings, water, wind… is this company experienced enough to examine all these areas and do they have enough professional integrity to say “today is not a good day to fly”.  Will they choose safety over “getting the shot”?  Will they risk losing this expensive piece of equipment to avoid a potentially hazardous situation?  We do.  We have. And we will.

4.    Technology – it’s not enough just to own a “drone” and attach a Go Pro camera to it.  At Think Media, we have a fleet of copters to choose from based on what the job calls for.  We choose our cameras on the ground to achieve a desired outcome, why wouldn’t we do the same in the air?

5.    Plan B – does the company you are researching have a back up plan in the event that their copter goes down, needs repair, or is permanently disabled on the day of your shoot?  Again, this is where having a fleet of copters is in our best interest.  We are prepared for any situation.

Currently, the FAA does not have regulations or licensing for flying these devices… but they will.  Glazen leads several advisory groups on this and other copter related topics.  He is convinced that licensing will dramatically reduce the hazards we are seeing as of late.   “I feel strongly that the FAA should and will require licensing at some point.  This is not a game, this is a craft and one that could be dangerous in the hands of people who are not responsible and experienced” Glazen said.  “We do not view our copters as toys that we attach a camera to, we consider them as appliances like we would any other piece of production equipment.  Skillfully operating our ground appliances ensures the people on our set are safe, we have the same obligation when we take to the sky”.

We put together some footage of our showcases some of our aerial work to date.  Some of it may look familiar as we employed the use of this technique in our recent broadcast spot for PlayhouseSquare’s Dazzle the District: Lighting the Legacy on Fox 8.  The original concept for this piece called for the use of an actual helicopter. It quickly became clear that getting the cinematic shot we were looking for required the use of our multicopter, to get us below where a helicopter could take us.  Using this appliance provided us an intimate and unique view of Star Plaza and allowed us to capture the beauty of this massive chandelier, the newly installed retro signage, and the new gateway entry points… up close and personal.  Click here to see our recent aerial work.

Mary Hipp
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