Things we get asked a lot
Frequently Asked Questions
What cameras can you fly?
The gimbal on the octocopter is designed specifically for flying the Panasonic GH3 allowing it to deliver sub-pixel stabilized shots. Very soon we will be switching to the GH4 to allow filming in 4K with external recorders offering 4:2:2 10 bit quality. Alternatively, our state-of-the-art hexacopter and quadcopter aircraft carry 3D gimbal stabilized GoPro Hero 4 recording 4K at up to 30fps and 1080 at 120fps.
Previously, our aerial filming drones have flown larger aircraft carrying the Red Epic, however, the significantly reduced flight time, additional cost and increased safety concerns has led us to seek a more practical alternative. By using an external recorder on the GH4 our aerial filming drones can fly longer, safer and cheaper and still deliver 10 bit, 4K cinema quality footage that can be visually matched to any camera on the ground.
How is the helicopter powered?
All our aircraft use lithium-polymer (lipo) batteries.
How long can you fly for?
Flight duration on the octocopter and hexacopter can vary from 8-11 minutes, whereas flight time for the much lighter DJI Inspire 1 quadcopter last be up to 25 minutes, although actual times depend on how hard the aircraft is working during flight. Flight duration of the aerial filming drone may also vary based on payload, wind speed, and air temperature. However, with a power source on location we can cycle batteries meaning we can effectively fly our drones all day.
If a specific application needs either the octocopter or hexacopter to fly longer, we can use more powerful batteries that potentially deliver drone flight times up to 16 minutes.
How long to change batteries between flights?
In takes approximately three minutes to land a drone, swap over batteries and be back in the air ready to film.
How long does it take to charge batteries?
Charging a single drone battery can take around 45 mins, although we can charge up to 6 flight batteries in parallel on one charger reducing the overall time to only 2.5 hours.
What is the range of the drone?
Although technically this is only limited by the range of our controllers which can transmit up to 3 km, for safety we only fly our drones up to a height of 120m and within 500m of the pilot, and always remain in line-of-sight. If a greater range is needed the pilot can follow the aircraft from a moving vehicle.
Do you need to have any qualifications?
Yes. Without them you would not be insured or allowed to fly. We have our RPQ-s qualifications, aerial work permissions granted by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and are fully insured with a public liability of up to £2 million.
What do we need to include in our risk assessment?
We will provide you with a comprehensive risk assessment tailored to your shoot as part of our pre-deployment preparation.
What weather can you film in?
So long as it’s not raining and wind speeds are no more than 10m/s (22mph or 36kph) we can fly!
What happens if we have to cancel?
There is no cost if you cancel up to the day before the start date of the production other than for any completed work that had been agreed. This usually gives enough time to assess things like weather on the day. Afterwards, cancellation on the day prior to the start date may incur a small fee to cover any preparation costs. There is no discount for a production that is cancelled once it has begun.
Can you fly outside of the UK?
In most cases, yes. However, we will need to obtain flight permissions from the relevant country’s aviation authority, which can take up to a month or more. All our drone equipment is packed in travel-safe Peli cases or padded bags to avoid damage and keep weight to a minimum. In most situations the lipo batteries for the octocopter drone cannot be transported by airplane and will either need to be sent by courier or sourced locally.
How noisy are they and how do animals react around them?
Contrary to what some people think, the drone noise is not caused by the motors (which are virtually silent) but by the cavitation from the propellers smashing into the air. As a result there is currently not much that can be done about that, although the drone noise does drop-off considerably after only a few meters above ground.
Right now there are still very few examples of drones used to film animals in the wild and reports of their reactions vary considerably. For example, in our experience and those of others, Spider monkeys like drones, elephants hate them, cormorants happily fly alongside them, while seagulls attack them and dolphins just couldn’t care less. However, it does seem to be different in every case so we recommend running trials with our smaller aerial filming drones before moving onto larger ones.
How much do you cost?
You’ll find our daily rates and kit hire costs are comparable to that of any experienced cameraman, and possibly even less. For example, on longer productions, especially those working overseas, you only pay for rental of the aircraft and camera, etc. on days they actually fly (to a minimum of one day in five). Also, our daily rates are generally discounted on travel days and any contingency days you include for possible bad weather.
We take huge pride in our work and want to deliver only the very best footage, which is why we have designed budget-friendly measures such as these to allow your production to dedicate more time on location to aerial filming.
To get a detailed quote tailored to your production, or just to discuss your options, drop us an email or call us on 07956 601 612.
How do you plan your shots?
We use a carefully crafted, proprietary approach, to aerial camera blocking. Our Hot Shot system, goes way beyond typical aerial moves, offering a clear understanding of why one shot works and another might not. Based on the subject matter and the effect you’re after, we can rapidly develop unique camera moves that contribute to your story. For more complex shoots we can meet before the day of the shoot to consult about your objectives and work with you to craft an aerial shotlist tailored to your production. If this seems like something you might need just get in touch and we’ll be happy to discuss things in more detail.