CreativeLive – New Skills for Aerial Imaging

Learning is an ongoing life long process.  No matter how deep we are into our specific field there is always the opportunity to learn new skills and pickup new tips.  When your running a business full time however it can be hard to find time to dedicate to education.  This is especially true in the field of aerial imaging, where technology changes so fast and many of us come from non related fields, there can be a lot of new skills to learn from flying the drone, through to editing the imagery, and marketing our services.

We recently wrote about CreativeLive as a learning resource on our sister website blog over at schooner labs as a great online source for education for those with limited time.

CreativeLive uses a freemium pricing model, the classes are free to live stream or can be purchased to watch at a later date if they don’t match your immediate schedule.

Photographer Chase Jarvis and entrepreneur Craig Swanson in Seattle in 2010, they leverage their background to bring a wide range of industry experts as instructors for their courses, giving the viewer some of the best in breed real world experience across the topic areas.

In terms of aerial imaging, CreativeLive offers a number of courses that directly apply to day to day needs around photo editing & video production. There are also a number of aerial & drone specific courses in the available library. In addition they also carry courses on managing your business and getting the most out of social media promotion and branding and related topics.

So when you have some free time between UAV operations, have a look at CreativeLive to see if there may be a chance to learn some new skills you can apply to your aerial imaging business to help move things to the next level.

Note – We are a CreativeLive affiliate and the links provided do provide us a small amount of funding if you purchase any of their offerings.  As with everything we share we only recommend items we truly believe in and have used.  Like you we are just a small business and making every penny count is key in the quickly changing aerial industry.

DJI Reveals Zenmuse X5 at InterDrone

In this episode, the Roswell Flight Test Crew provides same-day coverage from DJI’s announcement of the Zenmuse X5 gimbal for the Inspire One at the InterDrone conference in las Vegas, Nevada. Using a Micro Four Thirds sensor with interchangeable lenses, it provides 12.8 stops of dynamic range and includes the world’s first aerial auto-focus system. It is capable of capturing 16 megapixel still images, supports ISO settings between 100 and 25,600 and provides advanced, 3D noise reduction. At the event same event, DJI also announced the Zenmuse X5R, a 4K cinema camera capable of recording raw CinemaDNG files to a 512 gigabyte miniSSD, as well as the DJI Focus, a wireless follow-focus system.

Choosing a Drone Aerial Service Provider

ChecklistWhen it comes to selecting a drone service provider for your aerial media needs it can be a daunting task.  The industry is in the very early stages of growth so reliable recommendations and reviews can be hard to come by.

With drones becoming cheaper the barriers of entry are low and many are jumping in to the game putting out their Drone Aerials shingle with little to no previous experience. As a result, pricing alone is not always the key determining factor for selecting the best provider for your needs.

The true measure is in value provided and getting an end product that meets or exceeds your expectations and is done safely.  Not all aerial media is made the same, low quality visuals can directly impact your brand and image.

As with any outsourcing you need to choose wisely who to work with and who you want to develop an ongoing relationship with.  The following are some key factors to take into account before hiring an aerial provider.

Within Canada all commercial drone use is regulated by Transport Canada (most other countries have similar regulatory bodies, such as the FAA, CAA).  Operators must follow these regulations to operate legally.  In most cases in Canada this requires the operator to have what is knows as a  Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC).  If the provider does not have one (or doesn’t know what it even is) then you should avoid using them as you could potentially be liable in the event of an accident while on your property.  It also indicates their general lack of knowledge on the regulations or a decision to ignore them completely. (In some instances an Exemption can be used, however these apply mainly in very rural locations so most often cannot be used.)

If the provider does not have what is called a Standing or Blanket SFOC (these are open long term certificates) already in place and relies on operation specific certificates then you could have to wait for 20 days up to 3 months+ for approval for your specific work.  Those holding Standing SFOCs are generally able to work with very short notice as no further processing by Transport Canada is required. Be sure to ask what sort of SFOC the provider holds and what if any lead time may be required before the actual aerial work can be done.

Also SFOCs are regionally granted, so ensure the operator you are looking to hire has one for your specific location as there are multiple regions across Canada. (more…)

Medium vs Message: Drone Aerial Media Quality or the Lack Thereof

A few weeks ago I sat in the doctors office waiting for an appointment, on the wall was a LCD display showing information and ads of local businesses. One ad caught my eye as it featured aerial imagery of a golf course obviously shot with a drone.  What really stood out however was not the golf course itself but the poor quality of the aerials – jello, unlevel horizon, jerky camera movements, fisheye, and general amateurish look to it all.  The video didn’t so much highlight the golf course as it made obvious the use of a drone, which in the end is not the message I suspect they wanted to send to potential customers.

With the rapid growth of drones that are easy to fly by almost anyone we are also seeing the rapid increase in the adoption of aerial imagery in to advertising campaigns.  These systems now put aerial media within the budget of almost any business allowing them to give unique new views of their properties, projects, services.

While it may seem the “cool” thing to do to add any sort of aerial footage to your marketing campaign, the fad phase is quickly coming to an end.  With so much drone based media out there it has less of the “wow factor” it did a year or even a few months ago.  In that early phase the medium became the message and the use of a drone alone would attract attention and eyeballs.

As things evolve however the focus is less on the tool and more on the resulting imagery that it creates; as such the quality of the footage is becoming increasingly critical. It needs to highlight the product/project/brand and not the device itself.  Potential customers aren’t looking to buy a drone from most businesses, they are looking at the products and services themselves and that needs to be the focus of the resulting use of the drone footage.  If the footage looks unprofessional then so will the product or service you are trying to promote.

Much like the early days of website development when anyone that new some HTML became a “web developer” so to has been the case with drones, with hundreds of  aerial businesses popping up from everyone that owns a DJI Phantom or similar systems and overnight becomes an “aerial video professional”.  As with any profession owning the tools does not make one a skilled professional in using them.

Companies looking for aerial footage need to choose wisely.  Most people would probably not choose a doctor or dentist based on who is the cheapest despite their experience and credentials, the same applies to services like aerial imagery.  You get what you pay for in the end in most cases. The quick cheap route may end up producing footage that negatively impacts the brand and overall image.

Throw in the fact that many of the cut rate providers may also be operating illegally and a company could potentially end up with liability issues if something were to go wrong doing an aerial shoot.

The same applies for companies that buy their own drone thinking its the cheaper and easier route to take.  Being proficient and producing high quality footage takes skill and experience, it is not simply a matter of buying the tool, you need to know how to use it effectively, efficiently, safely, and legally. (See our article on Inhouse vs Outsourcing)

As the use of drones grows we will see more and more aerial imagery making it into the mainstream of many company’s marketing plans,  those that use it effectively will be the biggest winners,  those that use it poorly could tarnish their brand.