planetMitch note: this is the third part of a series (part 1 here and part 2) being written for planet5D by TJ Diaz – we'll have more to come soon! Also please note that TJ sells these copters. With the recent changes around using multicopters for photography and video, we thought it appropriate to have an update.
The Promise of Multicopters
From TJ Diaz of XFLY FILMS:
The promise of multicopters used for capturing high-quality aerial videography and photography is getting a lot of creatives very excited. The idea of being able to deliver aerial imagery as a commercial service sparks intense interest within the field due to the low cost compared to manned aircraft.
With the ability to safely lift and return expensive rigs provided by this next generation of unmanned aerial vehicles relatively inexpensively, comes the potential to monetize an aerial videography and photography service that delivers unbelievably stunning shots. The use of multicopters will significantly add to production values and boasts a relatively low cost of initial investment.
Why use a Multicopter for Aerial Videography?
Aerial videography demand is growing. Presently, successful entrepreneurs either own or rent time in low-flying planes or helicopters to capture the creative and stunning images needed by the advertising, feature films, and the production companies that they work for. Planes, helicopters, and pilots can be prohibitively expensive and present an obstacle to many photographers hoping to get into the field.
The status quo is changing.
The FAA is currently addressing regulations required for commercial use of unmanned aerial systems within the borders of the U.S.A. Once approved for commercial use, the sky is literally the limit for talented aerial photographers prepared to enter the industry.
Staying Inside the Regulations: Compliance Issues with Soon-To-Be Written FAA Regulations for Unmanned Aerial Systems
Legally, there are currently no laws about the commercial use of MR copters, although there are applications from other areas of the legal system that may apply. These include:
1. Privacy issues. Property owners have the right to restrict access to the land that they own.
2. Safety considerations. Broadly interpreted, when anything is used in a way that causes physical harm to a person or property, an individual may be held accountable under the law. Piloting an unmanned aerial vehicle in an unsafe way is treated in the same way that acting in an unsafe manner with any other tool or vehicle is covered.
The FAA is in the process of developing the rules and regulations meant to address the commercial use of multicopters. Until this work has been completed, the FAA has requested that unmanned aerial systems only be used by hobbyists. Hobbyists are defined as someone who engages in an activity for sheer fun with no type of gain, including monetary.
However, a recent court ruling in an FAA case against aerial videographer Rachel Pirker, who used a remote controlled aircraft to take commercial video for the University of Virginia Medical Center, found that there was no rule to prevent Pirker's use of unmanned aerial videography. To date, while the FAA has threatened additional prosecutions and fines, there have been no convictions and no fines have been issued. This ruling does not open the floodgates for use of UAVs into the national airspace but it is very positive for the unmanned industry. We await further news from the FAA.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Insurance Points to Ponder
Expect insurance rates for pilots to be calculated in a similar manner as car insurance rates.
• More expensive camera equipment and multicopters will have higher premiums.
• Since larger, heavier and faster equipment can cause more damage, liability costs will be higher than they are for lighter, smaller, and slower devices.
• Pilots who have a good flying record should expect reductions in their premiums over time.
• Companies such as Transport Risk Management are already offering UAV insurance.
Get Ahead of the Game by Learning to Fly a Multicopter Now
Forward-thinking aerial photographers are learning to fly in expectation of the release of the FAA regulations. The Unmanned Vehicle University currently offers a full pilot training certification programs. Outfits such as Troy Built Models and our company, XFLY FILMS, have UAV Pilot training programs as well as offering purpose build aerial photography platforms for sale. In the future, expect to see more creatively designed ads and artistic aerial photography by up-and-coming videographers and photographers who are embracing this new technology.
(cover photo credit: snap from the XFLY FILMS)