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Drones are illegal to fly commercially in the US....so who's buying?

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Rich Rubasch
Drones are illegal to fly commercially in the US....so who's buying?
on Apr 25, 2014 at 2:34:28 am

Thought I'd start this discussion here. One of the "other" buzz items at NAB besides 4K and Gimbals were once again the drone copters, most of which carry the likes of a GoPro or a GH1. Some much larger for DSLR's and small Red's. Seems like they are selling too.

But technically they are illegal to fly commercially in the US....for now. One court case put a California real estate videographer out of business and in another case the judge pretty much let the guy off.

So it is risky...but some believe it will give them just the edge in their productions to get them new work.

The shots are great, have a pretty specific application and the copters can be dangerous...not to mention a videographer is not necessarily a pilot, although almost all of the ones I spoke with think they are.

What's the concensus? Wait till the laws pass and do it right? Buy one now and fly it as a hobbiest and see if in fact you are a pilot after all? Just hire it out as the job calls for it? Get one and start billing for it right away?

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage
Founder/President/Editor/Designer/Animator
http://www.tiltmedia.com


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walter biscardi
Re: Drones are illegal to fly commercially in the US....so who's buying?
on Apr 25, 2014 at 3:15:14 am

You have to be smart and truly understand how the laws work and what you can and cannot do legally. The guys at Yonder Blue Films are absolutely freakin' amazing with their roster of quad copters and cameras. They've shot for pretty much every broadcaster and filmmaker in the US.

The only way to truly do this correctly is you have a pilot and a videographer. One person MUST be concentrating on the flying to keep things safe. The Videographer controls the camera and that's all they do. Pilot always overrides the videographer.

When you do it correctly, and keep the drone in line of sight, keep it under 400 feet and do everything else you're required to do, the work is amazing. Those smaller the pilot is also the videographer is where things get dangerous and sloppy. Are you concentrating on the shot or properly concentrating on the copter. You can't do both correctly at the same time.

You also NEVER fly over people. NEVER. When Yonder Blue shoots scenes with a lot of people they always fly the periphery.

We're going to see if we can get them back to the Southeast Creative Summit in 2014. Their workshops were among the most heavily attended, especially the one that answers many of the questions you ask in your thread.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
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Biscardi Creative Media

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Mark Suszko
Re: Drones are illegal to fly commercially in the US....so who's buying?
on Apr 25, 2014 at 2:22:39 pm
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on Apr 25, 2014 at 2:25:34 pm

Walter is completely right here. Nobody should be single-manning these things in commercial usage.

My take on using camera drones is that like jibs and steadicams that came before it, the drone is just another, specific tool, used for specific shots. You use it when that is appropriate and conventional aerials or jib/pole/zipline shots don't fit the need or budget. We're still in the infancy of the technology, with a few high-end operators who have mastered it, and a lot more people who are fascinated by drone shots as a gimmick, and they go looking for reasons to apply the tool, even where it isn't the best fit.

What I'd like to see is outfits like Rockport, Sony, and other film school programs, develop actual training programs and flight schools for drone ops, where you can get certified in safe and lawful operation before you use them commercially. If any wannabee can just click and purchase a system, and go right into the field with it, with visions of making BIG MONEY shooting used car lots and wedding or real estate video, you're going to see a lot more things like this:









As a dabbler in radio controlled flying hobbies, In my opinion, abuse of the hobby gear for commercial applications is bad for the hobby AND the business, because it will lead to much stricter regulation eventually. Already, new FAA rulings regarding drones are starting to have detrimental effects on my hobby flying due to the rules conflating hobby flying and commercial flying as being the same thing and needing the same rules.


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Rich Rubasch
Re: Drones are illegal to fly commercially in the US....so who's buying?
on Apr 28, 2014 at 9:01:25 pm

From the Model Aircraft guy who's in charge of Government regulations, here's his take from a hobbiest point of view:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Unfortunately, there currently is a lot of ambiguity, misunderstanding and misinformation regarding the use of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) for business or commercial purposes. Whether it is truly illegal is debatable; however, it’s clear that operating a sUAS for business purposes without specific FAA approval/authority is outside FAA policy.

As you mentioned, there are many UAS operators that see FAA’s policy as unenforceable and choose to operate outside this policy. I’m not sure this is the most prudent approach and I would agree with your decision to wait until there is a change in the policy or regulation in place that enables commercial sUAS operations.

That having been said… The AMA recognizes there is a growing community of sUAS operators that are using this technology for a purpose, largely aerial photography. We believe the safety considerations are the same whether or not this purposeful use is for recreational or commercial purposes.

As such, the AMA is currently developing an operational and safety program that will provide a safety structure for those who wish to operate their aircraft in a safe and responsible manner. We believe this is important to, 1) stem the mounting onslaught of bad press and publicity arising from the irresponsible use of this technology, and 2) to provide a safe haven from onerous regulation for those who choose to operate safely and responsibly.

We are working with a group of stakeholders and prominent members of the sUAS community in the development of this program, and hope to announce and launch our sUAS program by midsummer.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Takeaway? Become a skilled hobbiest first to determine if this is your bag of tricks (can fly without crashing) and is something you want to pursue professionally. Then plug in to the FAA guidelines and any new forthcoming legislation.

A small handful of over zealous video guys could very possibly put a black mark on our industry...it's only going to take one serious crash and a lawsuit and all the craft that were sold at NAB will be grounded...

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage
Founder/President/Editor/Designer/Animator
http://www.tiltmedia.com


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walter biscardi
Re: Drones are illegal to fly commercially in the US....so who's buying?
on May 5, 2014 at 12:37:07 pm

There is a multi-rotor community similar to Creative Cow that has a lot of first hand knowledge coming from within the industry. The guys from Yonder Blue Films have been in there quite a bit answering questions for folks looking to get into the industry.

[Rich Rubasch] ".it's only going to take one serious crash and a lawsuit and all the craft that were sold at NAB will be grounded..."

These types of generalizations are completely unfounded. What's the nature of the crash? What was damaged? Was anyone hurt? Where did it crash? What were the weather conditions? What were the skills of the flying team? And so on.

A camera assistant was recently killed in Georgia on the set of "Midnight Rider" due to the negligence of the Director for putting the cast and crew on an active railroad bridge. It inspired the #SlatesForSarah campaign and she was briefly recognized at the Academy Awards.

Should that one incident have shut down the entire movie industry because an innocent woman died doing her job due to the negligence of the Director? Does this Director's actions speak for the entire industry? Is this Director representative of the entire industry so the government should step in and shut down all TV and film production across the country?

That Director and the Producers of the film should be charged with some sort of a crime for the death of that camera assistant but to date, nothing has happened. In fact the Director is still trying to get the film made by moving it to Los Angeles and away from Georgia.

So making a generalization that one incident (of which there have already been multiple) will ground the entire industry just sounds a bit unfounded.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

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Rich Rubasch
Re: Drones are illegal to fly commercially in the US....so who's buying?
on May 6, 2014 at 11:53:42 pm

Well, technically all drones sold at NAB are currently grounded for commercial use since it is technically illegal in the US to fly commercially. I was implying or imploring or both, that the best approach currently is to become a fervent hobbyist and get really, really good at becoming a skilled pilot so when the time comes for the legislation to make commercial flying legal for videographers that we are well prepared and versed in both law and safety.

Or we might be "grounded" once again.

Capishe?

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage
Founder/President/Editor/Designer/Animator
http://www.tiltmedia.com


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Mark Suszko
Re: Drones are illegal to fly commercially in the US....so who's buying?
on May 8, 2014 at 5:54:34 pm

A group backed by large communication companies is protesting the FAA rules on grounds that Journalism isn't a business activity, but an expression of Free Speech, so TV News drones should be allowed right away without any more impairment than manned camera helicopters.

It's an interesting argument. I would say even if allowed, there would have to be *some* stipulation as to minimum safe equipment and operating standards, the same as helicopters.


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