Our free guide to buying aerial media

We hope you find this guide useful for future bookings

This guide is designed to help buyers of aerial media embrace an evolving and enriching new industry. Aerial media has become part of the mix when creating meaningful storytelling. This guide is aimed to become a useful tool to allow for best practices.

Summary

  • Respect the safety of others and their property. The operator knows the rules and has final say.
  • Each site has to be assessed before and on the day for safety and feasibility.
  • Take the time to select the right operator for the right assignment.
  • Weather impacts the final product so keep it front of mind.
  • Plan the shoot in advance. Make sure everyone has the information they need to carry out the assignment effectively.
  • Costing an assignment will depend on the requirements for the shoot. Make sure the tasks needed for desired results are well communicated with the operator in advance.
  • Flying aerial platforms is a skill and must be done within the limits of regulation.

Safety

First and foremost, no media is worth injury or property damage. Pilots are trained on safety and have to obey the rules set out by aviation authorities. Other stakeholders must respect that operators have the final say on the safety of an assignment. It is the responsibility of the operator to carry out pre-flight safety checks and to maintain a satisfactory level of safety throughout an entire operation.

Site Location

The site location offers the perfect backdrop for drones to do what they were designed to do. It is usually down to the client to decide where the shoot is taking place. So it’s good to be aware of the process that must follow by operators. This foresight in picking site locations will help produce best results. Operators must have a list of desired tasks for an assignment so that they can carry out a feasibility assessment. For each location the following things will be assessed:

Operators Checklist

Type of airspace and specific provisions
Hazards associated with industrial sites or such activities as live firing, gas venting, high-intensity radio transmissions etc.
Local bylaws
Obstructions (wires, buildings, masts, etc)
Extraordinary restrictions such as segregated airspace around prisons, nuclear establishments, etc.
Habitation and recreational activities
Public Access
Permission from Landowner
Likely operating site and alternative sites
Weather conditions

We encourage stakeholders to provide as much detail on the above when making enquiries. This will allow for a more accurate and faster quotation process. It will also allow the crew to focus on producing the media without having to address unknowns on the day.

Flying indoors requires a different site assessment, as the Aviation Authority does not govern it. This will fall under the responsibility of the property owner and their insurance provider to work with an operator to set conditions of flight.

Operations in urban environments are further restricted by Aviation Authorities because of a higher level of risk. The added complexity will mean that further time will be needed to obtain permissions and carry out pre-flight assessments. Some operators have gained an Operating Safety Case (OSC) granting permission to access urban areas. We highlight these operators under the permissions tag within our platform.

Selecting an Operator

How do you pick the appropriate operator for an assignment? There are a number of obvious factors that impact each and every assignment. The first is availability. Depending on the timeframe you’re working to, not all operators will be available for the desired time. The second is equipment and crew. Do the operators have the equipment and team needed to fulfill the tasks you require? The third is a budget. Budget restrictions can sometimes be the most frustrating obstacles to creative outcomes. It is important to have the budget and match accordingly. The final key is proximity. A lot of operators will travel to locations but the further an operator to a site will ultimately impact cost and time to get there and return.

It is necessary for every operator to have a valid license and insurance. We vet all our operators meaning you will be safe in the knowledge your operator is legal. We also have up to date information on all our operators reducing the time it takes to match the right operator.

Weather

The wonderful dice which natures throws us on the day. The time of year, day and location will all impact the outcome of the media produced on the day. Summer time when we have longer daylight hours, higher chance of calmer weather and better light are optimal conditions to fly and capture media. However, winter, after a snow storm can also provide rich occasions to capture stunning media. The advice is to start early and be prepared for the outcome it won’t be possible to fly. The operator will have the final say on what it possible and what isn’t on the day.

The Shoot

Where technology meets art. Allow time before the shoot for the operator to set up and carry out risk assessments for the day. The flight time of every drone will be different. Expect flight times between 10-20 minutes for media production. Operators will usually supply additional batteries but check before booking. It would be advisable to supply a charging point for battery refuelling where possible.

Camera stabilisation is achieved by using a gimbal attached to the drone. Most operators will supply a pilot and camera operator so that the specific tasks for the assignment can be fulfilled. This can be selected in our booking form.

Costs

Costing an assignment is dependent on a number of variables. Most operators have a standard rate card, which can be used to give a rough estimate. It is standard for expenses to be added to normal rates. Expenses such as travel, food and accommodation should be outlined during the quotation.

VAT will be charged if the operator is VAT registered so check before confirming. If there is a requirement for specific equipment, it is best to select an operator with this as stock equipment. You will end up paying less if this is the case.

Operating Limitations

Operators have to fly within the restrictions laid out by the Aviation Authorities and their permitted license. Standard rules limit most operators to line-of-sight flying. This means the pilot must maintain visual contact with the drone. The drone is restricted to flying up to 500 meters horizontally and 400 feet vertically. Some operators do have extended permissions so you should request to see these if that is the case.