Being a video production company in Indianapolis, we get a lot of questions about the latest technology and trends in video marketing. Here lately, there’s a very hot topic that keeps getting brought up – drones being used for video. It’s no surprise as drones are being discussed more in the media and showing up more at events as they become more affordable to the masses. Today, I am going share my opinion on the matter and offer some advice when it comes to video marketing.
Drones or Helicopters with Cameras?
First of all, let me just start by saying that I don’t particularly care for the word “drone” as it relates to video production. If you ask me, the word “drone” just has a negative connotation that comes along with it and I think that has led to much of the controversy surrounding the use of drones in the video industry. Once you start to think of “drones” as what they really are – remote control helicopters with cameras (unmanned aerial vehicles), suddenly the perception is different. You see, flying helicopters with cameras really isn’t that foreign in the video production industry. After all, news channels have been flying around capturing shots on video for years. The big change is that now these helicopters are unmanned and now they’re being offered at a price point that’s more reasonable to the general public. This is attracting more novice videographers and hobbyists thus leading to some of the drone controversy.
How Are Drones Being Used
One thing is for sure, drones (flying helicopters with cameras) are capturing some amazing aerial shots for video. Here recently, this video from a 4th of July celebration went viral on YouTube with over 9 million views.
While this is more of a “fun” use of a drone for hobbyist style footage, just stop for a minute to think about the potential for drones to be used for video tours of golf courses or for real estate development. It opens up a whole new aspect of HD video production that was previously too costly for many businesses.
But the more the idea of drones being used for commercial video production services is discussed, the more the regulations from the FAA are interpreted to mean that such use of drones is illegal…at least right now. While there is still some gray area, it’s understood that “the FAA states that any commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles — that is, use without recreational or hobbyist intent — is illegal.” So, what exactly crosses the line between recreational use or hobbyist intent and commercial use? Is it solely the ability to make money?
Here’s What I think About Drones
In my opinion, that’s where the FAA really needs to come up with a clearer definition and more realistic ruling that’s fair. I question how using a drone as a tool to produce an HD quality video for a business is any different than any other piece of equipment that might be necessary. Sure, there’s the concern for privacy and safety, but isn’t that a concern with real helicopters or other videos shot in the a public forum? It’s for these reasons things such as media releases, waivers and permits exist. I think the methods/tools for regulating the use of drones in a commercial setting already exist. It’s just a matter of the FAA making an informed ruling on how these apply to this new technology….and as one might expect I anticipate that will take far too long.
So What Happens Next?
As this recent article on drone entrepreneurs suggests, the video production industry is not going to wait for the laws to catch up. As the technology continues to advance, the price points continue to become more affordable and the trend continues to catch on – drones are going to make their way into commercial video production. Eventually the laws will be forced to adapt to the technology rather than the technology adapting to the laws.
How Do Drones Fit Your Video Marketing Strategy?
I love new technology just as much as the next person, but sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the latest and greatest while losing site of your video marketing strategy. There’s a lot of buzz around drones in the video industry right now, but until some things are sorted out the risk doesn’t outweigh the reward for most commercial applications. What I mean by that is that if you’re struggling to get videos completed or measuring the results of a recent video marketing campaign – then trying to figure out if you should be investing in a drone for anything other than recreational use shouldn’t be a business priority.