Today, DJI announced the Phantom 4, a drone with massive capabilities but yet with it, a whole new set of ‘aerial filming companies’ flood the market.
DJI are by a large majority, the worlds biggest drone manufacturer producing amazing equipment at really affordable prices but whilst this giant company is boosting the industry there is a negative side… how do we know who is actually a professional anymore and what should we look for when hiring a drone filming company?
Before you do anything, make sure they are operating legally. When an operator is working commercially with drones, in the UK, they have to have a Permission for Aerial Work (PFAW). It’s issued by the Civil Aviation Authority and everyone is given a number; ours, for example, is 499 but these numbers are now up at over 1600.
Once you know a company has a PFAW, check they have insurance. If a company doesn’t have insurance then on your head be it. Your insurance will not cover the drone team as they have to be specific policies.
Some advice… don’t just trust show-reels. While they provide a great insight into the work of an operator they can hide a lot of secrets so take a look at the projects they have worked on before; are they credible? What kind of work are they doing (is it similar to your job)?
The most important asset any aerial filming company can have is experience. You need to ask yourself, how long has this company been going and will they really have experienced being on a shoot just like mine. Having confidence in your drone team is critical and likely to produce the best results.
Another factor that might help you make your decision is equipment. This isn’t so much the drone it’s self but more the camera you want to strap to it… There aren’t many of us out there lifting Arri Mini’s or RED Epics so make sure the camera is suited to your production needs.
Lastly, the big one… PRICE
There aren’t too many industries where price can vary so much per day but I don’t think there is an ever more relevant time to pull out the saying “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur” and this is only becoming ever more apparent as people set up with the likes of the Phantom 4. They do a job, but the person operating it needs to know how to get the best results.
We’re proud to be part of the Drone Aerial Operators group, a group of industry leading professionals worldwide servicing not only the media industry but also agricultural and surveying. If you have any questions about hiring an experienced operator for your productions then let us know!
Will Glover | Fleye Aerial | 1st March 2016