Drone filmmaking opens new horizons

Octocopter capturing footage from up in the air. Courtesy of Christiaan Cloete Octocopter capturing footage from up in the air. Courtesy of Christiaan Cloete

Amanda Tuzi
A&E Reporter

Drones are not only an important tool for military and police services, but a worldwide aerial phenomenon for many other industries.

Drones, also known as Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs), vary from a large plane to a palm-sized helicopter. They can hover in midair, do backflips and get into small spaces, according to Transport Canada.

These machines are being used for scientific research, traffic and accident surveillance, search and rescue, promotion and advertising, international and national news and for aerial film and photography.

Humber’s upcoming second mounting of a Drone Filmmaking and Photography workshop, will teach piloting, operating and the rules and regulations of drones. According to the workshop description, the class will be taught with two sized drones. The sessions will be held Oct. 15 and 22 combined from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. or Oct. 25 from 9 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

“They (participants) will have a better understanding about the rules and regulations of what you need to know before you can use a drone commercially and they will have an understanding on how to balance a camera on top of the drone, how to prepare it and how to be safe when they fly it,” said Christiaan Cloete, workshop instructor, UAV pilot and camera operator.

Cloete said the class would be taught with two different-sized UAVs, an octocopter that has eight propellers and phantom quadcopter that has four propellers and is smaller in scale.

“They’ll also get a little bit of knowledge on how to control drones by using a little microdrone, which is the size of the palm of your hand, and they’ll be practicing that indoors in the class,” Cloete said.

Participants do get a chance to go out into the field to see how the drones work in the film industry.

“They open up a great opportunity, in nature, advertisement, television series and everything,” Cloete said.

The workshop fee of $310 includes the four-propeller Hubsan quadcopter participants will practice with and then keep afterwards.

“Speaking as a photographer I think they’re a really good way to get shots you normally wouldn’t be able to get,” said first-year Humber Broadcast Television and Videography student Andre Apperley, 19.

Humber is one of very few institutions in Ontario that teach how to successfully use UAVs in the film and photography industry.

“The reality is it’s a technology that’s here. We have to live with it,” said Jeremy Cohn, 24, camera/editor at Global Toronto and graduate of Humber Journalism.

“I’ve worked with helicopters before. There’s big money in renting helicopters,” he said. “You’re a little bit limited in what you can do with an actual helicopter and you’re working with a million, $2 million worth of gear whereas a drone would cost you very little compared to that.”

The workshop doesn’t require a license to teach on or fly the drones. Transport Canada’s rules and regulations state that operators of UAVs that weigh less than 35 kilograms are allowed without to fly without a certificate.

“If it’s for recreational use don’t fly it around people, don’t fly it in low areas, join your local flying club. They’ll have a designated flying field which you can go fly and play there, because normally a lot of people will be there to help you if you’re a beginner,” Cloete said.

Some drones have various built-in safety features such as returning back to original location of take off when the battery runs low or the copter goes out of range.

The Hubsan quadcopter is one of the cheapest palm-sized drones on the market.

Cloete said a larger-scale drone will cost around $700 and the devices can work their way up to millions of dollars for plane-sized UAVs.

“The drone has come in handy,” said Cohn. “I’ve used it for some storm chasing and tornado damage assessments.”


Octocopter in action:

Photo Courtesy of Christiaan Cloete