Cinematography

  • New Perspectives with Aerial Filming

    LA Times – Drones are providing film and TV viewers a new perspective on the action
    Richard Verrier, Contact Reporter

    A dazed and bloodied student who had just been mugged stumbled down a darkened alleyway in a slum. He lifted his shirt, revealing a gaping wound, before collapsing on the ground as curious onlookers gathered around.

    Buzzing some 20 feet above the crowd of extras was a drone, its whirling blades humming like a swarm of bees. The aircraft carried a digital camera that captured the action for an upcoming episode of “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders.”

    The action is supposed to be occurring in Mumbai, India, but it’s being filmed at the Blue Cloud Ranch in Santa Clarita, a 95-acre facility with a variety of sets, scenery and equipment to make realistic-looking films and TV shows.

    Increasingly, a new piece of gear is showing up on set: drones.

    “We’re getting shots you wouldn’t get any other way,” said Tony Carmean, a co-founder of Aerial MOB, the San Diego company that supplied the drone for the “Criminal Minds” shoot.

    A year after the Federal Aviation Administration cleared the way for their use by the film and television industry, unmanned aircraft systems are becoming popular tools for directors and cinematographers.

    Drones aren’t yet ubiquitous — less than 10% of all productions use them. But demand is growing rapidly on film sets because they allow for more nimble filmmaking — and save money. A camera drone and crew costs as little as $5,000 a day, compared with at least $25,000 a day for a helicopter shoot.

    The city and the county of Los Angeles have issued nearly 60 permits for drones on film and TV sets in the last year, according to data from FilmL.A., the nonprofit group that handles permits for the L.A. region.

    TV commercial directors have been especially quick to adopt the new technology, using drones to film commercials for such brands as Tesla, Chrysler and Nike. Drones also have been used on several TV shows, including HBO’s “The Leftovers” and CBS’ “Supergirl.” A spot for Audi even features drones on screen, with the flying machines besieging workers in the company parking lot.

    Robbie Friedmann, a location manager and production supervisor, recently used a drone to provide an “over-the-shoulder” view of a man running through rugged desert terrain in Texas for the Discovery Channel show “Dual Survival.”

    “It was unbelievable footage,” he said. “It was something you would only be able to do with a helicopter, but those costs are really prohibitive.”

    The growing use of drones is changing the way that movies and TV shows are made, giving consumers a new perspective on the action.

    Film industry experts say they could open up new possibilities of filmmaking in much the same way that lightweight cameras did in the 1960s with movies such as “Easy Rider” and the Steadicam did in 1970s. That camera-stabilizing system, with its distinctive arm, was famously used in the climbing-the-stairs scene in “Rocky.”

    “Drones are like a Steadicam that can operate 200 feet up in the air,” said Michael Chambliss, a business representative for the International Cinematographers Guild. “It’s an entirely new vernacular in the language of filmmaking. All of a sudden we can do shots that we couldn’t do before.”

    Chambliss, himself a veteran cinematographer, has been working to educate his members and major studios about the new technology that was initially greeted with some caution.

    Until recently, the FAA allowed only public agencies such as fire departments to use drones for such things as tracking wildfires.

    The agency effectively banned their use for commercial purposes because they were viewed as potential aviation safety hazards and threats to national security.

    Prodded by the Motion Picture Assn. of America, the FAA took the first step toward allowing Hollywood to use drones when it granted a waiver requested last year by seven aerial photography companies, including Aerial MOB and Vortex Aerial of Corona.

    Drone proponents hailed the decision, saying it would put the U.S. on a more even footing with other countries where they are legal and used on films such as the James Bond movie “Skyfall” and “Transformers: Age of Extinction.”

    Until recently, many California drone operators did much of their work in South America, Europe and Canada.

    Filmmakers contend that drones create more distinctive shots because they can go where manned aircraft can’t — dropping down into narrow spaces such as alleyways and canyons and even flying through doors and windows.

    “Everybody is trying to develop a shot for them,” said Bob Harvey, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Panavision, which makes and rents cameras and lenses and has referred business to Aerial MOB. “They are certainly going to give more flexibility to artists.”

    Ian Woolf, a co-producer and unit production manager for “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders,” said the low-flying drone shot on the Santa Clarita shoot wouldn’t have been possible with a helicopter and was 10% of the cost. It took only two hours to set up the shot and 10 minutes to film the scene.

    “It’s easier, faster, quicker and safer,” said Woolf, who also used drones to film a scene at a ranch in Simi Valley standing in for Morocco. “From my perspective as a unit production manager, it’s amazing.”

    Helicopters can be hazardous. In 2013, three people were killed when a helicopter crashed in Acton during the filming of a reality TV show for Discovery Channel. In March, 10 people were killed when helicopters collided during filming of a reality TV show in a remote part of Argentina.

    “When you’re flying a helicopter you have a human being on board,” Chambliss said. “If something goes wrong you can almost guarantee people will get hurt or killed, whereas with a drone, all you need is a broom and a garbage bag. It’s a much smaller impact.”

    Of course, drones can still be dangerous.

    There have been a rash of incidents, mostly involving drones operated by hobbyists. A Pasadena infant was injured in September when an operator lost control of his drone.

    In another incident, a 57-year-old man was charged in Los Angeles with obstructing a police officer when he flew a drone near a police helicopter.

    In 2014, TGI Friday’s mistletoe drone promotion went awry when a drone filming in a Brooklyn restaurant struck a photographer, cutting her nose and chin.

    The cinematographers union, which has members employed by 16 drone companies, has been working with other industry groups to develop a set of safety guidelines for use of drones.

    Drones also have limitations, especially when it comes to filming high-speed action scenes, said Dylan Goss, partner in Team5 Aerial Systems, a Van Nuys company that supplies film equipment for helicopters and recently launched its own drones division.

    His company, for example, used drones to film scenes in Netflix’s “Narcos” series, but concluded that helicopters were more effective when they were hired for filming the fast-paced action in the upcoming “Point Break” movie.

    “I really believe for the large action work, and moving quickly and covering ground, the helicopter is best,” he said. “It’s about using the best tool for the job.”

    Under the new FAA rules, drones can be used only on sets that are closed to the public and cannot be operated at night.

    Operators must hold a recreational or sports pilot certificate, keep the drones within their line of sight and below an altitude of 400 feet.

    At least two people are required to operate the drones: one to pilot the craft with a controller and a second who operates the camera and acts as spotter to watch the drone in flight.

    Applications for drone waivers have flooded the FAA, which has authorized more than 200 companies and individuals to operate drones for film production, according to the agency’s website.

    Among them was Aerial MOB. The company builds its own drones, which cost as much as $30,000 to make. The drones weigh up to 30 pounds and rent for $5,000 to $14,000 a day, depending on their weight and size of the camera.

    One of its first high-profile customers was Warner Bros., which hired Aerial MOB in December to film a scene of a man running through the woods for an episode of “The Mentalist.”

    Since then, business has boomed. The company handles about a dozen aerial shoots a month, with business expected to exceed $1.2 million this year, Carmean said.

    “I’m getting calls left and right,” he said.

  • Aerial MOB: An Offer We Cannot Refuse

    Aerial MOB: An Offer We Cannot Refuse

    In late September 2014, Aerial MOB became one of the first six American film production companies selected by the FAA to receive a Certificates of Waiver or Authorization (COA) to use UASs for movies, television and commercials.
    Much has changed since then. Being the godfather of the drone industry has turned out to be a goldmine for Aerial MOB. Still, in the world of media, plot-lines, personalities and silicone enhancements don’t last beyond the pilot, and it’s no different in the burgeoning drone industry. The company would not have been able to grow so fast without being able to deliver on a golden narrative. The cream always rises to the top and Aerial MOB is one of the masters of visual drone storytelling.
    “Pre-certification, we were working, on average, once every six weeks. We were doing much smaller jobs with much smaller production companies. After, we average seven to eight jobs a month,” said Tony Carmean, Aerial MOB’s co-founder and chief marketing officer.
    With golden quality comes top companies with big budgets to spend showcasing their products. Aerial MOB’s client list now includes some of the biggest entertainment and media companies in the world, including BBC, HBO, MTV, and Warner Brothers, among many others. Car companies and consumer brands like NIKE, KIA, BMW and American Express have also gravitated to the MOB for its talent to create stunning visuals.

    Tony Carmean said drones allow directors to be more efficient and more creative.
    “UASs get shots in close spaces in 20 minutes. Before you would need a half to full day just to set up,” said Carmean.
    “UASs also give cinematographers (the opportunity)…to get single continuous shots and long pans over (a landscape) that you couldn’t easily get before.”

    Aerial MOB uses about five different cameras, ranging from a low-end UAS similar to a GoPro in which the camera is built into the aircraft, to the mid-range Panasonic Lumix G DMC GH4, to the high-end Arri ALEXA Mini. The ALEXA Mini retails for $60,000.
    “All of our pilots are FAA certified and are professional cinematographers. They’re members of the International Cinematographers Guild Local 600,” Carmean continued.

    As it is commercially known, the highest the devices can fly is 400 feet. Most shots are done at 100 feet and under, eliminating the need for a van full of movie production equipment like dollies, jibs, trams, and cranes. Drones save industry money, but they have also help productions to remain lean, and mean.
    Carmean said when the pilots send a $100,000 machine up to film fireworks, “there’s a lot of pressure on the pilots.”
    The UASs are covered by insurance, but must be treated carefully because many are leased. A complex shoot for a stunt and explosion-filled car commercial can last three 10 to 12 hour days in the hot, dry Southern California chaparral.
    A tight crew of UAS pilots, directors and assistants, and contracted stuntmen work closely and tirelessly to get the shots just right. They are obligated to operate under FAA guidelines, but since Aerial MOB is part of the entertainment production industry, different and stringent rules apply providing another layer of protection and safety. Governing bodies such as local and regional permit offices have assumed jurisdiction when it comes to profession drone shoots in the Golden State.
    Aerial MOB does about 60 percent of its work in Southern California. Its crew has traveled as far north as Vancouver and south as Mexico City.
    Carmean said filming in another country requires a lot of preparation.
    “You list everything you’re bringing in, and everything you’re bringing out. We still have to file paperwork with the FAA for every job. The client has to go their permitting agency (where the shoot will take place) and file with them too,” he said. It’s not an easy process.
    UAS shots are not greatly affected by air pollution. Cameras can be outfitted with different filters to give a specific tone to footage.
    “We do a lot of car commercials where the UASs chase cars on mountain roads. We filmed a guy who got mugged with a reveal shot 20 feet above his head. For the CBS show The Mentalist, we had a very cool continuous shot, with a police officer and a detective out in the woods. The camera pans over the woods and heads in a certain direction,” said Carmean.
    Carmean said his job is coordination. He is on set often.
    “We do everything from the more laid-back plate shots (background landscape shots which do not contain actors or specific set pieces) to action scenes for TV shows,” said Carmean.

    Since Aerial MOB was among the first companies to receive certification from the FAA, it is also getting attention from politicians.
    In late April 2015, Aerial MOB’s partners were guests of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) at the 3rd annual Creativity Conference in Washington, D.C. The conference brings together policy makers, business leaders, entrepreneurs, and artists to explain how the expansion of the creative community encourages economic development.
    “We were in front of U.S. Senators and Congressmen and the news media, and met with U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA). We sat with the FAA for three hours afterward. The FAA listened and made some changes,” said Carmean.
    Carmean said he and other partners explained certification for every location shoot is a little onerous. They also offered suggestions for how to streamline the FAA’s paperwork processes.
    In the coming years, Ariel MOB is looking to expand beyond show business into transportation, building, and utilities inspection.

    “We (the company) made a conscious decision three years ago (to start UAS filming) last year when the FAA was set to grant certification. It was good timing. We have four partner owners, three full-time employees, and about 15 independent contractors. We haven’t lost anybody (since we started). We want to grow,” said Carmean.

  • LA Great Place for Drone Industry

    LA Great Place for Drone Industry

    On Thursday night at Cross Campus in Santa Monica, I spoke about the drone ecosystem and how LA is a great place to be building a drone company. Los Angeles was the center of aerospace innovation in the 20th century. Together with our friends across industry, we’re making it the 21st century home for the next frontier of aerospace technology.
    Donald Douglas founded his aircraft company in Santa Monica in 1921. In 1924, the first ever flight around the world was made by the Douglas World Cruisers, which took off from Clover Field, the present-day site of Santa Monica Airport.

    Douglas World Cruisers, prior to departure from Santa Monica, CA on the first circumnavigation of the world by airplane in 1924.
    The first commercially viable airliner was the Douglas DC-3, every copy of which was built at the Santa Monica factory.

    Delta Air Lines Douglas DC-3

    The Douglas aircraft factory at Santa Monica Airport employed more than 44,000 people in the 1940s.
    As Douglas developed heavier airplanes and eventually jets like the DC-8, the runway at Santa Monica became too short and the company moved to nearby Long Beach. Just south of Santa Monica in Culver City and El Segundo, innovators like Hughes developed airplanes, helicopters, and satellites.
    Today, SpaceX is forging new ground from their Hawthorne, CA headquarters, and companies like Virgin Galactic and XCOR have joined Scaled Composites in the nearby Mojave desert.

    Ben speaking at Cross Campus in Santa Monica on September 24, 2015.
    But what does the future hold for aviation technology? Since the Wright Brothers’ first flight in 1903, aviation technology has been about connecting people across borders. When Charles Lindbergh made his record-setting solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927, he couldn’t have possibly imagined that only 40 years later people would be getting on Boeing 747s in Los Angeles and arriving in London just 10 hours later. Air travel has become a natural part of our lives.
    The next frontier of aerospace technology won’t be about connecting people across borders, it’ll be about connecting one street corner to the next, it’ll be about collecting data to help us understand our communities better. It’s all about local. We’re already seeing drones being use for all kinds of inspiring applications, like aerial photography and cinematography, much of which is driven by Hollywood (also part of LA). Aerial Mob and CTRL.ME Robotics, both LA-based companies, create awesome aerial art. Santa Monica-based Dronebase helps connect real-estate, construction, and other industrial customers with the aerial images and data they need.
    In ten years, the ways in which we’ll most be enjoying drones haven’t even been dreamt up yet. There are myriad opportunities for innovators to jump into this exciting emerging ecosystem and build great businesses. It feels great to be a part of this new community of collaborators.
    For my team and me at AirMap, our calling is to provide access to the world’s low altitude airspace information so that drones and their operators can understand where it’s safe to fly. Without this information, innovation cannot take flight. And our job isn’t easy. Gathering, scrubbing, curating, and maintaining a global, precise, dynamic airspace dataset is hard. Serving that information up in ways that are simple to use is even harder. That’s why our team is dedicated entirely to this specific contribution to our new industry.
    One example of how AirMap makes its airspace information useful is through the Know Before You Fly campaign. Together with industry and government collaborators, we’re helping to keep people who are new to drones as safe as possible.

    AirMap airspace information integrated into the Know Before You Fly campaign.
    Another example is the integration of AirMap’s airspace information into the popular app for recreational drone pilots called Hover, which provides weather information, a news feed, flight logging capabilities, and other information, in addition to an airspace map.

    Download Hover from the Apple Store or Google Play today!
    Next week, AirMap will be releasing its map SDK to a limited number of beta tester app developers in preparation for a mainstream release by the end of the year. The SDK allows developers building apps for drones to easily incorporate airspace information into their products. Sign up for early access to the SDK by visiting AirMap’s website at www.airmap.io.
    AirMap is hiring! If you love drones, you like the idea of working with a bunch of smart, passionate, executers four blocks from the beach in Santa Monica, and you want to build a foundational element of the aeronautical infrastructure of the future, we want to talk with you! Learn more by clicking here.

  • Alton Native Blazing Path with Drones

    Alton Native Blazing Path with Drones in Film Production

    That was the day he and his partners became the first cinematography company granted Federal Aviation Administration approval to use unmanned aerial systems, also known as drones, for filmmaking and commercial productions.
    “Three or four years ago, my friend was really into remote-controlled aircraft as a hobby,” said Carmean, who grew up in Alton and has family in the area. “He was always trying to get me into them … now he’s one of my business partners at Aerial Mob.”
    Aerial Mob is a San Diego-based company known as an innovator in unmanned cinematography and unmanned aerial systems technology. Aerial Mob has a partnership with the Motion Picture Association of America, which has endorsed applications for the use of drones on movie sets.
    “Most people think of the word drone and get a bad image in their mind,” Carmean said. “Actually, they are just really sophisticated remote-controlled planes or aircraft — they’re one and the same. To be able to use them to film commercials and movies will be a lot safer than using a helicopter and a lot less expensive as well.”
    The biggest concerns for the FAA are safety and privacy, which resulted in a ban on the use of drones for commercial purposes, but under a law passed by Congress in 2012, the FAA is developing rules that ultimately will allow drones to operate in national airspace.
    “The FAA has leaned on us for knowledge of the technology,” Carmean said. “Now that they’re (FAA) setting up new guidelines, we’ve been able to help them with the technical aspect of robotics technology and the satellite-guided navigation.”
    Under the FAA’s guidelines, the unmanned aerial vehicles must stay at least 100 feet from people who are not part of the production crew. The vehicle must weigh less than 55 pounds, including the camera and lens, and cannot fly more than 57 miles per hour. Another concern for the FAA is airspace safety. Drones cannot operate higher than 400 feet and must stay at least five miles from an airport to ensure they do not interfere with other aircraft.
    “Using the UAS will save costs for film production companies as well as cut down on the time it takes to film scenes,” Carmean said. “With cameras that are run on tracks, if the camera had to swing around in all directions, the track would be visible in the shot and would have to be digitally edited. With the drones, you don’t have that problem. It also can take up to a day to set up the needed equipment to film; with the UAS, it takes us about 30 minutes and we’re ready to shoot.”
    The drones come in several sizes but have to maintain the FAA’s weight limit. Aerial Mob has drones ranging in size from 2 feet wide to 5 1/2 feet wide with four to eight propellers.
    “We’re talking about being ready to go on set in two to three weeks,” Carmean said. “Right now we have over a dozen UAVs. I think around the first of November will be the target date.”
    The use of drones is being considered for applications other than filming for Hollywood. In May, the FAA said it would allow companies to apply on a case-by-case basis for exemptions to the commercial drone ban and indicated it would look favorably on bids to use drones to inspect pipelines and monitor crops. Real estate agencies and oil production companies are interested in the technology.
    “To use drones to check on maintenance on wind turbines or other areas that are difficult to access would be safer than sending a worker out,” Carmean said. “News media would greatly benefit from the use of UAVs in the field in unsafe environments such as weather or dangerous locations. I believe you’ll see the day when pizza will be delivered by a drone.”
    To date, six companies have been given approval from the FAA for the use of drones, including Astraeus Aerial, Aerial Mob, Snaproll Media, Vortex Aerial, Pictorvision and HeliVideo Productions.
    – See more at: http://advantagenews.com/features/alton-native%E2%80%99s-company-blazes-path-for-unmanned-filmmaking/#sthash.6FQHQEWn.dpuf

  • Warner Bros Uses Drone on The Mentalist

    Warner Bros Uses Drone on The Mentalist

    The weekend before Warner Bros. studios planned to make television history, the weather was not cooperating. In normally sunny California, there had been days of rain. Luckily, mother nature played ball. On December 15, 2014 the production team of “The Mentalist” was able to fly a drone on set for the first time in Motion Picture Association history.

    In September 2014, the Federal Aviation Administration gave permission to a handful of drone companies to begin operating in Hollywood. The industry lauded it as a huge step forward. Drones are a cheaper and easier way to get aerial footage than, say, a helicopter. Hollywood has been using them to film memorable movie sequences for years (remember the flying car scene in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”?). The only catch was, because of a ban on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAS) in the U.S., production companies had to go to Europe, Canada or Asia to shoot those scenes.

    Related: FAA approves drone use in Hollywood

    Now a small number of companies are allowed to operate in the U.S. including AerialMob, the company operating the drone camera for “The Mentalist” scene. CEO Treggon Owens says his company has made a point of working with the FAA on things like safety rules.

    “[The September decision] means we can work legally and most importantly it means that the studio types, people like this group, will legally allow us to operate. Nobody on the studio level and above would ever allow drones to operate on our sets without drones being legal,” he said.

    What Owens is hinting at here is a major grey industry for drones in this country. He estimates that thousands of flights take place each day. There are a number of industries clamoring to legally be able to use drones. Take farmers, for instance, who hope to use the unmanned vehicles to regularly survey hard-to-reach areas of their fields in order to detect problems early and improve harvests. Owens explains further:

    A grey market drone is doing everything from doing real estate shots today to construction management to power line inspection. Those things are happening on a day-to-day basis across the nation. There’s also a heck of a lot of video being generated and used. I mean any car commercial you see on TV there’s generally going to be an aerial and I’m going to guarantee you, since there’s only been eight legal jobs done, none of those car commercials were done in a legal framework but every single car commercial you see on TV has this.

    It’s not just Hollywood. Dozens of industries have lobbied the FAA to use drones. In fact, the FAA’s very first exemption to the UAS flight ban went to oil giant BP (BP) who used a drone to monitor remote oilfields in Alaska.

    It’s no wonder these businesses are anxious – the drone industry estimates it will be worth some $82 billion by 2025.

    The FAA was supposed to have a final decision on UAV use by the end of 2015, but there’s growing speculation that, despite the pressure, the FAA may not meet its deadline. The reason, perhaps not surprisingly, is logistics.

    There are a number of different types and sizes of drones, and people like Owens think not all drones should be treated equally. “[In the] United States, no matter what, if it’s a paper airplane or that large drone behind me, it’s the same thing. So I think that’s the biggest distinction between foreign governments and us is the non-tiered system.”

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    Owens, though, is hopeful that when the final FAA rules are in place there will be a tiered system, with fewer restrictions on small drones that you would use in, say, your backyard, to the major $30,000 crafts that he’s using on set. That said, if the FAA has to craft several different sets of rules depending on vehicle size, that could take longer. According to a recent Fortune article, “By their own admission regulators have had a hard time developing a set of regulations that reasonably apply across all sizes and classes of unmanned aircraft.”

    Once the FAA comes up with a set of rules, the shadow industry, including the 100 plus companies Owens estimates are operating in it, will be subject to a unified code of safety standards across all the interested industries. Until then, a blanket ban remains in effect…with the exception of Hollywood.

    The drone footage shot in the above video will be featured in the season finale of “The Mentalist” airing February 18th on CBS

  • Drones Coming to Hollywood

    Drones Coming to Hollywood

    The FAA will approve Hollywood’s request to use drones for filming, government and industry sources familiar with the process have told Forbes. On Thursday afternoon the FAA will announce its decision, and explain the procedures under which production companies will operate and the aviation rules which they are exempted from, the sources say.

    In May, seven aerial photo and video production companies asked for regulatory exemptions (known as a 333 exemption) that would allow the film and television industry to use drones with FAA approval. Those seven companies and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), were asked by the FAA to develop the guidelines and safety procedures under which they planned to operate. The FAA reviewed those procedures and is expected to approve the drone-specific rules and standards that will enable Hollywood to be exempt from existing aviation regulations.

    The process was an onerous one that began more than four years ago with aerial cinematography companies working to develop internal guidelines. After filing their request for an exemption, the industry began drafting rules and guidelines, with the participation of pilots, lawyers, consultants, unmanned aviation experts, cinematographers, representatives from the studios, and experienced cinematography companies including Aerial Mob, Astraeus Aerial Cinema Systems, Flying-Cam Aerial Systems, Heli Video Productions, PictorVision, Snaproll Media and Vortex Aerial.

    A representative from Vortex Aerial, one of the companies involved in the exemption process, said, “We are very proud to be a part of this monumentally historical event. Being the result of over 4 years of industry leader collaboration we can only hope that this most daunting and financially taxing of tasks will finally come to fruition and not be yet another false start for our industry.”

    Aerial Mob, one of the aerial cinematography companies involved in the exemption process features this image on their website.
    Aerial Mob, one of the aerial cinematography companies involved in the exemption process features this image on their website.

    The exemption is expected to specify detailed procedures under which companies may operate. The companies involved expect to release clear safety rules and guidelines that will set the standard for other companies to follow. The exemption allows the companies to fly pursuant to specific rules for the types of flights film productions plan to conduct. By definition, the exemption means that Hollywood will not need to to comply with some of the general flight rules covering pilot certificate requirements, manuals, maintenance and equipment mandates and certain airworthiness certification requirements.

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    Hollywood is an appropriate industry to be granted one of the first exemptions, said Tony Carmean of Aerial Mob, because it can address the FAA’s two major concerns: safety and privacy. “Most studio productions take place on closed sites with an established perimeter, ensuring that personnel on those sites are affiliated with the production and are aware of inbound aircraft,” he said. Aerial Mob has worked with clients such as the BBC, Nike, Harvard University and MTV. The company suspended all operations inside the United States while awaiting FAA approval, oftentimes filming in Mexico, which has a more permissive environment for aerial cinematography.

    The companies involved in the exemption process have extensive flight experience with both manned and unmanned aircraft, suggesting that certification as a pilot of manned aircraft may be a criteria that the FAA believes is important for the operation of unmanned aircraft. To date, the FAA has received 45 requests for exemptions from large and small companies across a range of industries including agriculture, oil and gas, pipeline inspectors and surveyors. “We have even received an exemption request from a realtor, and a person asking for permission to use a UAS for news gathering,” said FAA spokesman Les Dorr.

    Currently, Certificates of Waiver or Authorization are available to public entities that want to fly drones in civil airspace. The FAA says that commercial operations are authorized on a case-by-case basis. Such operations require a certified aircraft, a licensed pilot and operating approval. The exemption process under Section 333 provides an additional avenue for commercial UAS operations.Drones Coming to Hollywood

  • Drones and The Future of Movies

    Drones and The Future of Movies

    If you’re a filmmaker on a credit-card budget, you probably can’t afford a helicopter to take those aerial shots of cityscapes and landscapes that big-budget filmmakers use to create a sense of panoramic grandeur. But you can afford the next best thing: a flying drone camera. That’s right: the same technology that allows the U.S. to spy remotely and to drop bombs from unmanned aircraft also allows you to capture killer bird’s-eye-view shots for your movie.

    See Peter Travers’ List of the Best and Worst James Bond Movies

    Drone cinematography is still in its primitive stage. For one thing, the UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) don’t have much range (about a mile) and only have enough battery life for 10 to 15 minutes of flight. Plus, the built-in cameras only have 720p resolution, or medium high-definition. (That’s about the quality you might get on a good smartphone.) But the latest drones also come with a camera mount so that they can hoist full HD (1080p) GoPro sports cameras. There’s still the little snag that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not yet permit private businesses to operate drones in the United States. (Non-commercial filmmakers may use them, but only below 400 feet and in sparsely populated areas.) But the agency will begin issuing drone licenses to businesses by 2015, and Hollywood could be the first set of private users.

    Last fall, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Hollywood’s lobbying arm, pressed the FAA for a waiver to allow the use for filmmaking purposes of smaller drones with less range than those used by the CIA. Waiver or no, by the end of the decade, the FAA estimates there could be as many as 30,000 public and private drones in the air, making drone manufacture into a $90 billion industry.

    In the meantime, the unmanned fliers are still primarily government-operated, usually with law-enforcement agencies at the controls, doing overhead surveillance. Naturally, individual citizens and even some municipalities are worried about the potential for abuses of privacy of having thousands of drones in the sky. It’s no wonder the drone industry’s lobbying arm, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) likes to play up drone applications that are primarily scientific or commercial, including filmmaking.

    While drone use is still restricted here, overseas filmmakers have gotten their hands on UAVs. A prankish pair of Irish filmmakers used a drone to shoot footage of goings-on at Google and Facebook’s offices in Dublin. For the conglomerate that has already made satellite photos of your house available online to anyone, turnabout is fair play says drone-wielding filmmaker Caroline Campbell. “We feel that it is no more intrusive than something like Google Street View,” she told Wired. (You can watch some of Campbell’s film, Loitering Theatre, here.)

    As with Google Glass, it’s easy, then, to imagine that the first theatrical features to make significant use of drone technology may not be the ones that exploit its use in action sequences or inaccessible locations. Rather, they’ll be the ones that take advantage of its Big Brother-ish spycraft. They’ll be films like the Francis Ford Coppola classic The Conversation that remind us, by cautionary example, of how little privacy we still possess.

    Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/news/drones-and-the-future-of-movies-20131028#ixzz3m1OEUWnq
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  • Ad Week – Drones in Film Production

    Ad Week – Drones in Film

    Ever since Twitter used drones to create buzzy six-second videos at Cannes last year, the remote-controlled devices have ditched their reputation as weird flying gizmos the military uses in favor of one as a new marketing platform. And brands are finding new ways to incorporate the videos into virtual-reality campaigns.
    Today, Patrón and agency Firstborn are launching the “Art of Patrón Virtual Reality Experience,” giving viewers an inside look at how tequila is made at its Hacienda Patrón distillery in Jalisco, Mexico. The brand joins a growing list of alcohol marketers using virtual reality with a new twist—the use of drones to film projects.
    After viewers put on an Oculus headset, they see the world from the perspective of a bee, Patrón’s icon. They then get a virtual tour of the Hacienda’s agave fields, distillery and bottling room, and get to see all the steps that go into making a bottle of tequila.
    According to Lee Applbaum, Patrón’s global CMO, the idea behind the campaign came from the fact that the distillery is located in a remote part of Mexico. The virtual reality is meant to replicate, as closely as possible, the on-site experience.
    Using custom-built drones equipped with seven GoPro cameras, a team of FAA-certified pilots from Aerial Mob maneuvered the machines to capture complicated shots at the Hacienda like a 30-foot drop or a close-up of the agave plants. They also collected the sounds of workers in the field to make the virtual experience more realistic. The live-action shots were then overlaid with computer-generated images.
    In one scene, the bee flies through a keyhole into a room where employees are chopping up agave plants. Another shows the bee hovering over a field of flowers and cacti.

    “It’s very ironic that we’re using cutting-edge technology to tell this story of a very traditional, time-honored and ancient process,” Applbaum said. “All of this audio and video from the drone gives you this sensation that you are this bee flying through places that ordinarily you simply could not do.”
    The project took five months to complete and will be used at retailers and Patrón events and seminars. “While we want it to be immersive, engaging and entertaining, we also had to ensure that it was equally informative and very real,” Applbaum said.

    Drone Reality
    Earlier this week, GoPro acquired software company Kolor, which some belief may be the first step in building its own headset. If the camera’s previous marketing is any indication, a GoPro-backed virtual-reality headset would likely sell itself.
    Meanwhile, British Columbia’s tourism department used drones and helicopters late last year to make sweeping three-minute videos of the province’s mountains and landmarks.
    Cirque du Soleil choreographed drones for a fun video that looked like dancing lampshades. And even movie directors are finding new ways to get the perfect shot.
    “When you’re shooting a 360-degree environment you have to consider your entire surroundings,” said Firstborn’s associate creative director Cameron Templeton. “Shooting via drone is starting to emerge as a filmmaking technique, but it’s very new territory for VR.”

  • Panavision, Drone Company Aerial MOB Form Alliance

    hollywoodreporter.com announcement
    SEPTEMBER 04, 2015 2:03pm PT by Carolyn Giardina

    Panavision will recommend Aerial MOB as their preferred drone company in the U.S.

    Aerial MOB — a provider of drone services for feature and TV production — has reached an agreement with Panavision through which the camera and lens systems supplier will recommend Aerial MOB as its preferred drone company in the United States.

    The recommendation from lens and camera systems giant Panavision could help boost business for Aerial MOB, which has recently provided drones services on series including Supergirl, Criminal Minds Beyond Borders, The Leftovers and The Voice. (Panavision customers are not required to work with Aerial MOB.)

    “Their focus on providing advanced aerial technology, with an emphasis on safety and performance, forms a natural alliance of our two companies,” said Bob Harvey, Panavision’s executive vp, global sales and marketing.

    A year ago this month, the Federal Aviation Administration approved operator exemptions for six aerial production companies to use small, unmanned aircrafts systems (UAS), or drones, for filming motion pictures and television programming in U.S. airspace. Aerial MOB was among those six companies, and additional exemptions have been granted since them.

    This was big news when it occurred, as a growing camp in Hollywood has asserted that mounting cameras on drones offers new creative options, cost savings and, perhaps, safer sets. But regulatory issues had been a hurdle; in order to conduct a commercial operation with an unmanned aircraft in U.S. airspace, users had needed a certified aircraft, licensed pilot and FAA approval. The FAA is currently working to loosen these regulatory restrictions.