Drones? The jury's still out for me.
Now I understand this is is a forum for people who want to use their drones successfully. But after careful consideration, I still think they can't be used with any great success. At this point in time, their capabilities can't be fully exercised. For a number of reasons.
The most obvious is... they're little tiny helicopters! They fall under the purview of the FAA, which I feel is proper. Public safety comes before a cool shot or making a buck. The FAA is trying to keep up, but the field is changing so rapidly it can't keep up.
These gizmos can also be very invasive. They can invade one's personal privacy. YOUR personal privacy. Yes, people in this forum would almost never be compelled to do that, but you can't count it out. It can happen. Ground rules and regulations still remain sketchy. I can tell you that if there were a drone outside MY bedroom window, the owner would be buying a new rig because I would sieze it and claim it as mine... and who would argue with me?
Drones have a marvelous capability to capture video never before imagined. But their operators must absolutely, positively be responsible and respectful and realize that machines fail. Their successful operation can NOT be 100% guaranteed. They can cause injuries and damage. So I think cool heads still need to create responsible, common-sense and RESPECTFUL rules for their operation.
Oh, and by the way--if there is EVER a drone over my house, you may assume that you have lost it forever. I have nets. I have rocks and a slingshot. Both are fatal -- or at least highly injurious -- to a drone. And I will not hesitate to use them. And I will laugh in your face should you ever be so foolish as to ask for your rig's return.
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA
[Dave LaRonde] "I can tell you that if there were a drone outside MY bedroom window, the owner would be buying a new rig because I would sieze it and claim it as mine... and who would argue with me?"
The FAA because as you already said it is a treated as little helicopter so taking down someone else's drone would be the same as taking down a helicopter.
I'm not going to argue with you because they most certainly can be used to violate privacy, but privacy violation would be easier with something like a Nikon P900 with a mega zoom or DSLR with long glass and the image would be even better.
Drones are an incredible tool. And just like a camera are incredibly affordable today. Yes, there are a lot of idiots out there, but that's why the regulations keep changing.
[Dave LaRonde] "Their successful operation can NOT be 100% guaranteed. They can cause injuries and damage.".
Which is why anyone using them for business carries insurance. And if you hire someone to fly for you, make sure they have their part 107 license and insurance.
For the same reason I wouldn't hire a production company for any project if they didn't carry insurance for on set accidents, in case you trip over a cord and break your wrist trying to catch yourself. Or is someone knocks over a tripod with a camera on it.
I can't think of a better time to say: Insert The Simpsons "Old Man Yells At Cloud" image here.
[Dave LaRonde] "But after careful consideration, I still think they can't be used with any great success. At this point in time, their capabilities can't be fully exercised. For a number of reasons.
The most obvious is... they're little tiny helicopters! They fall under the purview of the FAA, which I feel is proper. Public safety comes before a cool shot or making a buck. The FAA is trying to keep up, but the field is changing so rapidly it can't keep up."
Dave, are you a licensed Part 107 operator? I am. If you aren't, then you're not really qualified to talk about this.
Yes, the FAA puts limits on the ways you can use a drone. They also put limits on the way you can use commercial airliners, and not-tiny helicopters, and private planes. Would you say that those flight platforms can't be used with any great success?
Many of the limitations on commercial drone operation (airspace, speed, flight ceiling, beyond line-of-sight) are subject to FAA waiver. If you can demonstrate that you can safely execute your flight plan, the FAA will grant you a waiver to many of the restrictions around drone flight.
And you're telling me that you've never, ever, seen effective drone footage? You don't think they can be used with great success? Wow, that's amazing: maybe you should tell that to the producers of Game of Thrones, who used them instead of helicopters for this season's Icelandic aerials. Or maybe you like motorsports: why don't you call up World Rally Championship and let them know that the huge team of live-broadcasting drones they used this year just aren't as good as the old method of sitting on the ground with a camera hoping a car doesn't crash into you, for a three second shot of it driving by. Or call up any of the producers of these major Hollywood blockbusters and tell them they should have spent ten times the money on a helicopter instead.
As for the rest...shall I go through and pick apart each of your arguments and tell you why you're wrong? Yes, I think I will.
[Dave LaRonde] "These gizmos can also be very invasive. They can invade one's personal privacy. YOUR personal privacy. Yes, people in this forum would almost never be compelled to do that, but you can't count it out. It can happen. Ground rules and regulations still remain sketchy."
Yes, that pesky new invention, the stepladder and telephoto lens, is sure dangerous. Ever use a computer? That's a thousand times more likely to get your personal information stolen. Also, this isn't a reason drones can't be effectively used. It's a reason you're scared of them and don't understand them.
[Dave LaRonde] " I can tell you that if there were a drone outside MY bedroom window, the owner would be buying a new rig because I would sieze it and claim it as mine... and who would argue with me?"
Any judge, Dave. Personal property laws apply to drones, too. In fact, they also apply to footballs, jocular tone notwithstanding.
[Dave LaRonde] "Drones have a marvelous capability to capture video never before imagined. But their operators must absolutely, positively be responsible and respectful and realize that machines fail. Their successful operation can NOT be 100% guaranteed. They can cause injuries and damage. So I think cool heads still need to create responsible, common-sense and RESPECTFUL rules for their operation."
You could say the same thing about Technocranes. Or cable cams. Or any car rig. Or special effects pyrotechnics. Or news helicopters. But those aren't new to you, so why pick on them?
[Dave LaRonde] "Oh, and by the way--if there is EVER a drone over my house, you may assume that you have lost it forever. I have nets. I have rocks and a slingshot. Both are fatal -- or at least highly injurious -- to a drone. And I will not hesitate to use them."
The NTSB considers drones to be aircraft.
Therefore, if you knock my drone out of the sky or damage it, the FAA will have to speak with you about that. Specifically:
(a) Whoever willfully—
(1) sets fire to, damages, destroys, disables, or wrecks any aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States or any civil aircraft used, operated, or employed in interstate, overseas, or foreign air commerce;
...shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years or both.
Still wanna throw rocks at my drone, Dave?
Here's the deal, Dave: you need to either go work with a licensed operator, get licensed yourself, or stop talking about it. We all recognize that there are yahoo hobbyists flying out there for fun, but anyone doing it commercially is getting licensed and insured, and believe me, anyone doing it professionally has no intention of spying on you or flying recklessly. They don't have time for that. So stop grousing about it. You're just shouting at the clouds.
You can shout at me to get off your lawn all you want, but believe me, I won't be there, and neither will anyone else with a drone. I'll be out getting kickass aerial footage for my projects, none of which include the lawn or windows of a cranky, hopefully clothed please God, video producer.
I am 150% in FULL support of Dave on this one.
I am an FAA licensed & insured UAV pilot. I even belong to a drone advocacy group which is dedicated to working with the government to enact laws that protect the public's interests, while allowing commercial drone pilots the freedom to make a (darn good) living flying their drones responsibly.
No drone pilot who spent all the time & money studying and practicing and taking the FAA's test to get certified, has the time or inclination to spy on anyone. I can also tell you that, if you're not serious about becoming a commercial UAV pilot, the amount of information you have to learn to pass that darn FAA test will turn you off pretty quick. It's a crazy difficult test that costs $150 each time you take it. Failed it? Pay another $150 to test again! I took online classes in preparation for taking the test. Those classes cost me (well, my business) $350 and I studied about 2 - 3 hours a night for about 2 months. I passed on my first try, but not with the score I would've liked.
As far as quality of video, I have YET to film anything that hasn't totally blown my mind at how smooth and, frankly, STUNNING the footage is when I get it back to the edit suite. The Phantom 4 Pro may be the smartest money I've ever spent on a piece of gear. I can just let the drone hover (even in decent wind) and the video looks as if I put a tripod on a huge ladder!
As far as crashing and all that; yes, it's always a possibility. But that's why we get insured. Besides, people crash cars and planes and boats and motorcycles every day! At least when a drone crashes, the chances of it hurting someone on the way down are practically nil. Additionally, the technology is constantly evolving and getting better all the time. In the case of my Phantom 4 Pro, it has OBSTACLE AVOIDANCE in every direction, but up. Hell, it won't even LAND if the ground is too wet. It also has some really cool flight modes that help a pilot get the perfect shot.
Look what I'm trying to say without rambling too long (not doing that well) is, you had a point maybe even a YEAR ago... but now, not so much.
Now, people who fly drones just for fun.......eeeehhhh.....
I don't think you're in full support of Dave, but the rest...spot-on.
I thought I'd make some personal observations about drones, and this thread seemed as good a place as any.
Drones have fundamentally changed the visual communications business at least a much as the invention of Steadicam. Their unique capability to get aerials in places even a full-size chopper with a Tyler mount can't go, is revolutionary. Some films are now being made that could never have happened without this technology.
That said, as is the case with a lot of innovations in this business over the years, at the front end of a new trend, it's going to get overused a bit and not always be the right tool for the job, even as people explore the limits of what it can do. Those are growing pains, to be expected, and we're already starting to see a new "visual grammar" of aerial imaging evolving in film making applications.
This is exciting and interesting to me, because it's fundamentally changing how we can choose to tell a story. Some of the applications, I find, especially in wedding type videos, to be a little on the ridiculously over-dramatic side. But it's as important a tool as was changing from fixed tripods to dollies and jibs. And, like with the simplification and democratization of dollies and jibs and sliders, we see a lot of places where they're just over-used, for the sake of using them, and not really an essential element in telling the story.. But that's going to settle down over time.
The down side of this exciting era reminds me of the CB radio fad in the 70's, when, to the consternation of Ham operators and truckers everywhere - suddenly everybody and their mom had to get at least a base station - if you think the chatter on social media is irrelevant, inane, and useless TODAY - well, it was pretty bad on channel 14 then, too, lemmetellya. And casual civilian users would often illicitly boost their power, for kicks, making the trash transmissions cover a wider area. The FCC eventually had to throw up their hands as the problems got too numerous to get a handle on. CB got so clogged up and unwieldy, it lost a lot of the initial attraction, and as mobile phones came in, the majority of casual users fell away.
I'm thinking it will be that way for a while with drones and casual users playing with FPV rigs of various levels of sophistication. Last week, a plane finally reported a collision with an illegal drone, flying above legal altitude, in the approach corridor of an airport runway, way inside the airport exclusion zone. Isolated ya-hoo, undoubtedly. I promise we'll see more, before we see less, because retailers don't care about end user restrictions or conduct, and just want to move a lot of product.
If the abusers remain obnoxious enough, I expect rules for pro usage will tighten further, which bums me out as a recreational RC aircraft hobbyist. We already have enough problems with loss of field space to development. When the first batch of new, drone-relevant rules came out, it also wiped out maybe 25 percent of the conventional available RC hobby sites as well. I own a couple of palm-sized drones for messing around in the back yard or basement, but for serious use at work, we have a dedicated, FAA-legal 2-man team ( pilot and safety op) with advanced gear and all the legit paperwork and pro procedures to get the shots we need. People like that are not the problem. Most who post here are not the problem. It's the amateur consumers dabbling with "toys" that's an issue. There's not a lot that can be done except awareness campaigns and making examples of the worst offenders, but perhaps another tack is to work thru the manufacturers, to get more of the safety systems of pro drones into every level of consumer "toy" drones, at the source. And for the Makers and DIY'ers, parts suppliers could put those features in the chipsets and programming apps the hobbyists use to scratch-build with. Geo-fencing, Altitude sensing and limiting, auto RTLS when signal is lost or battery is low - these should not just be features for "pro" setups only, but basic standard features across the spectrum of applications, at every price point. I think our industry orgs like NAB and the like should be talking to the drone makers' associations in earnest, about ways to make the consumer-level gear safer and less easy to abuse.
My turn to go cloud-yelling now, so I'll stop.
Mark, your post is what an intelligent critique of the current state of drones looks like. No cloud-yelling going on here.
I agree with Mark, drones have fundamentally changed the visual communications field and how stories can be told in so many different applications.