On hobbyist drones and video filming

I came across the following video on Facebook the other day. It’s a video from an 18 year old in Nancy, France, filming the beauty of his home town. What intrigued and amazed me, as someone who has worked in the aviation industry for about six years is how this video was filmed – with a drone helicopter. Check it out:

When we think of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) the first image to come to mind is usually the drones being used in Yemen and Afghanistan by the US ilitary to perform reconnaissance and to bomb people by remote control from the other side of the world. Such is the world of big military drones like the Predator.

But this technology, as technology often does, has also filtered down to the civilian realm in the form of smaller, much less expensive devices. Drones are finding use in police, fire, and rescue, giving a cheap, flexible, and safe (no pilot) way to perform aerial surveillance and reconnaissance.

The following documentary from Motherboard (VICE News) talks about applications of drones, both military (surveillance and attack) and civilian.

On the civil side, applications of unmanned aerial vehicle technology includes drones both for organizations and for hobbyists.The hobbyist space is a very interesting development, and is the type of drone used by the French teenager to film the beauty of his home town (And get into some hot water with the French aviation authorities – http://hypervocal.com/news/2014/teen-drone-summons/ ).

There are very lightweight (About 1 kg), affordable drone models meant for the hobbyist crowd, with some models in the neighborhood of $500 – accessible to almost anyone determined to save up the money. For some, this is a simple extension of the older tradition of RC aircraft. But with the development of cheap, lightweight cameras such as the GoPro line so popular with extreme athletes, this technology suddenly blows the doors wide open to aerial photography and filming.

With $1000 and enough hours of practice, anyone could potentially reproduce, to the extent allowed by camera quality, the kinds of sweeping, graceful aerial shots that normally require expensive crane equipment or aircraft rentals to film. Such a dramatic lowering of the bar to entry for such types of video could allow applications to educational video content. Basically, if you can operate the drone with the needed level of accuracy, you can get the shot you want. The only limit is your talent and imagination.

What are your thoughts? What kind of educational or training applications could you see for this technology, whether as a way to film instructional video, or as a teaching tool to show sights we usually would not see? Please leave your comments below.





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