It is difficult to find someone who hasn’t heard of the recent invasion of drones. These unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’S) fly high in the sky and are controlled from on the ground. They’ve been utilised for search and rescue efforts, on the battlefield as weapons, and wedding pictures.
Recent films such as “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” “Harry Potter,” and “Skyfall” have already used drones, merely because these shoots were overseas where the restrictions were far less daunting. Now, according to a motion made by the Obama administration, for the first time in the United States drones will implemented in seven film and television productions (probably more since this news broke).
As time goes on more films will likely be given the same ability, in what Obama calls “a significant milestone.” While the list of films using drones continues to expand, I’d like to discuss the impact this will have for the future of the industry.
We have a new wave of camera direction that will allow films to achieve unique cameras angles with less costs and efforts. Drone filmmaking is revolutionising the manner in which we, as a generation, record.
This height of camera work is ideal for birds-eye view angles that make the action and characters on screen seem weak and defenceless. The final shot from Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street” is one that comes to mind. But wait that wasn’t filmed from a drone was it? No, obviously during the time it was likely filmed using a helicopter. This was done to catch Stone’s visualization of Bud Fox’s (Charlie Sheen) shameful walk up the stairs to await his trial after using inside information on stocks for personal gain. A shot like this with a drone is able to capture the same shot, only for less money than hiring a helicopter and needing less manpower to achieve.
Another issue that drones can resolve for film productions is risk of injury or death from helicopter crashes. In the past few decades, helicopters have caused large problems and unnecessary accidents. The Twilight Zone movie tragedy that took the life of actor Vic Morrow and two young Chinese child actors in 1982 remains as one of the worst helicopter accidents on a film set. The use of drones will help prevent helicopter crashes on film sets and promise a safer production as a result. While drone crashes are still possible, it’s extremely unlikely. A safer film production is ideal and with drones becoming an accepted mode of filmmaking, it will be certain to emerge a reality.
While the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) still has yet to remove the almost complete ban of drone use in commercial productions, it is easy to see that progress is certainly being made. One of the bigger issues that the FAA is concerned about is allowing drone use beyond an enclosed set, not just for safety reasons, but for privacy as well. The use of drones in filmmaking is uncharted territory that needs to be explored. However, for the use of journalism, not so much. Most of the public wouldn’t feel safe with drones flying all over the skies taking pictures and videos of their everyday lives, or their private lives for that matter.
If big production companies can receive exemptions, small video production companies are hoping the same ability will be granted to them. In the next year or two as the FAA oversees these drone regulations, don’t be surprised if this happens sooner than you think.
Drones are one exemplifying reason that the art of filmmaking is forever changing. What will come next? It is hard to say, but it surely is an exciting thought.