April 11, 2018
Drones and the 21st century
Drones have changed not only the creative video landscape but also many other industries around the globe.
“Total drone unit sales climbed to 2.2 million worldwide in 2016, and revenue surged 36% to $4.5 billion” according to research firm Gartner.
The drone report!
Goldman Sachs believes that the drone market will be worth over $100 billion helped by the commercial and government sectors; http://www.goldmansachs.com/our-thinking/technology-driving-innovation/drones/
Many years ago when I started flying drones they weren’t called drones, the community would refer to them as multi rotors or helicopters and it will probably come as a surprise to many of you that you couldn’t buy a fully built drone; it had to be built of existing parts for RC cars and planes. Once it was put together it would then need coding and a lot of faffing around so it would fly; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ER2GxMo0X3E
Some clever person took apart a Nintendo Wii controller and used the gyroscopes/sensors to build a flight board for a drone which meant the the drone would self stabilise if set up correctly; http://www.multiwii.com/wiki/index.php?title=Multiwii_Beginners_Guide_to_Basic_First_Flight
Originally none of the drones had cameras or gimbals; cameras were crudely attached with gaffer tape or bolted down and as you can imagine, the picture quality wasn’t great.
As time progressed some Chinese manufactures produced stabilisation gimbals that held a GoPro – this was a huge step up from the gaffer tape and finally the footage started to look much improved. Although better, the picture quality still wasn’t great as the gimbals had to be programmed. So the amount of patience you had correlated directly with the performance of the camera gimbal. A very fiddly process and even the temperature could affect performance. The picture often suffered from what we call jello; https://youtu.be/n3xUe76b-IE
Move on 5 years and things have really changed. DJI has stepped up the private drone game to a whole new level of technology. Other companies are struggling to keep up. 3D Robotics used to make drones but got bought out and now mainly concentrates on software. Yuneec which tries to be innovative, just has too low a price point to compete. But then there are the heavy lift drones such as the UK based, free fly Alta 8, the Aerigon and the Shotover U1. All of these drones pack some serious punch and can lift a payload as heavy as a Red or an Alexa mini so they are perfect for feature film or high-end advertising where a full camera setup is needed.
Along with the increased use of drones, there is also an increase in legislation and regulations around using them for commercial purposes. The CAA has passed a law that requires a permission for aerial work before a drone can be flown be for monetary gain. In turns this protects pilots within the drone community and ensures a certain level of safety with every professional operator; https://www.caa.co.uk/Commercial-industry/Aircraft/Unmanned-aircraft/Small-drones/Permissions-and-exemptions-for-commercial-work-involving-small-drones/
The use of drones stretches far beyond aerial filming. They are being used for a whole array of purposes from crop spraying, (https://www.dji.com/mg-1s?site=brandsite&from=nav), topical survey mapping, deliveries (https://youtu.be/vNySOrI2Ny8) and light shows (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWFeE6saMnU). Drones are even being utilised to provide internet to remote locations around the world; https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jul/02/facebook-drone-aquila-internet-test-flight-arizona
Drones have changed many industries already and will continue to change many more. The fact is that drones are totally sci-fi and they help us as mankind to feel like we are in the 21st century.