The Power of Perspective: The Benefits of Using a Drone
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a…robot?
That thing is way smaller than I thought. What the hell is that? Is it holding an Amazon package? What is this madness??? Whether it be in a multi-million dollar feature film or your little sister’s wedding, film production has adopted drones as the ideal way to capture powerful perspectives that benefit your story and help keep costs down.
Let’s step back a second…
In 1917, the Wright Brother’s pioneered the first military drone called the “Ruston Proctor Aerial Target.” The goal was to act as a sort of flying bomb that would be targeted at enemies during the war. However, this flying Jetson’s style military genius wasn’t operational until the German Military took the concept a step further in 1943 during World War II. Though these crazy robot birds were originally developed for weaponry purposes, like most things, over time we realized that technological revolutions have multiple purposes. In 2006, according to a Wall Street Journal report, non-military drone use began to take flight. They first were utilized by farmers, until the FAA issued the first ever commercial drone permit. From that point forward, the helicopter movie shots of the past had met their match. We can now achieve what used to cost tens of thousands for a much smaller price with a more efficient workflow.
We utilize this advantage every chance we can in our productions. Our company specifically has had the privilege of filming all over the world, therefore we have had the chance to capture some unbelievable footage with this wonderful device. Our clients, much like yours, expect work that stands out from the rest. Drone work is almost like a “cheat code” for helping your work to pop in a way that will appease your client. Aerial footage adds a powerful perspective in cinematic value. The “birds eye” view allows the content to be scaled, to feel bigger and more dramatic and important. We can utilize this to help viewers feel “control” while watching, a valuable toolset for any filmmaker.
With that being said, we need to make sure we put praise where praise is due. Yes, this technology has added to the filmmaker’s toolbox in an invaluable way… but you still need a filmmaker. No camera, editing software, or technology can ever fully supplant the need for a great artist and/or operator. Just because you purchase a drone does not mean you will begin to have top notch drone footage. Like anything, it is a skill that requires hours and hours of work to become great at. You should also understand the “why” of this tool - why is it that you’re getting this perspective for the story? Will this help my audience empathize with the story or protagonist? Or will this reveal too much too early on? Knowing the “why” for this tool will help justify your vision. Over saturating your own work with Drone footage is another challenge filmmakers will face - be vigorous with your choices and visions. Understanding your “why” is key.
The drone revolution is wonderful and as a Producer I am certainly grateful for it, but I will always bet my chips on talent and people before I bet them on technology and products.