www.bakehouseaerial.co.uk https://www.bakehouseaerial.co.uk Your Imagination. Elevated. Sun, 05 Aug 2018 20:32:20 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://www.bakehouseaerial.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/sqAERIALweb-150x150.jpg www.bakehouseaerial.co.uk https://www.bakehouseaerial.co.uk 32 32 Drone Photography and why you need it https://www.bakehouseaerial.co.uk/drone-photography-and-why-you-need-it/ Sun, 05 Aug 2018 16:34:37 +0000 https://www.bakehouseaerial.co.uk/?p=42573 Bakehouse Aerial - Drone Filming in the UK, based in Yorkshire

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Bakehouse Aerial - Drone Filming in the UK, based in Yorkshire

Aerial photography has been around since 1858 when a French photographer took photographs of Paris from a balloon; since then aerial photographs have been captured from kites, fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, rockets and satellites. The latest advance in aerial photography uses a type of model aircraft, a UAV, fitted with a camera.

UAV photography uses an unmanned aerial vehicle equipped with still and/or video cameras to capture aerial views. UAVs, popularly known as drones, fly using multiple rotors (multi-rotors) and come in several different designs. One such design is the quadcopter; equipped with four motors and propellers it makes the ideal platform for shooting using professional still and video cameras like the DJI X5S.

Quadcopters are versatile flying machines. In the hands of a qualified pilot, who controls them using radio control, they can approach objects closely and zoom up to 400 feet in the air, the legal maximum. They can also hover for extended periods at low altitude. They are equipped with video cameras that transmit a live video signal to a receiver on the ground so that the images can be composed remotely before they are shot. Typically battery life restrictions limits flights to around 20 minutes between battery changes.

While conventional aerial photography using manned fixed wing aircraft and helicopters is prohibitively expensive for all but high end projects, drone photography is affordable and available to many different business and other activities. It can really make a difference and add considerable value. It has applications in public and private events and promotions, and is an important research tool. UAV photography can achieve angles that are not feasible using other techniques. Below we summarise some important applications.

 

Places where aerial photography makes a difference

 

There are many places where a bird’s eye view can make a real difference to your business, especially now that UAV photography is so affordable.

  • Aerial Inspection – drones can be flown to precise locations, which make it easy to carry out detailed inspection of roofs, chimneys and other structures to assess if they need maintenance or repair. It is generally much cheaper with drones than with traditional techniques such as using mobile elevated platforms.
  • Marketing – aerial photographs and videos can make a big impact on your promotional material. Whether an aerial image of your hotel, an aerial video tour of your theme park or golf course, or scenic views of the surrounding countryside, all can be affordably captured using a drone.
  • Construction – drones are gaining popularity in the construction industry where aerial photography can be used for site surveys and monitoring overall progress of major construction projects. Projects can be documented over time to provide a complete record of every stage of the work.
  • Property & Real-estate – aerial photographs of individual properties and new build estates can be a great tool for estate agents, giving potential buyers an entirely new perspective and make your estate agent business stand out from the crowd by adding a truly professional touch to your brochures and online images.
  • Archaeological research – archaeological UAV photography has been used by university research groups to survey important archaeological sites and digs and has played a key role in several important discoveries.
  • Family events – drones have the potential provide a whole new perspective on recording important family events such as weddings and special parties. Shooting part of your wedding video and stills from the air can add a whole new dimension, making a stunning visual impact on your record the most important events in your life.
  • News media – UAV photography is a great way of capturing live events for reporting to news media, subject to the appropriate legal constraints outlined below.

Drone Photography and the Law

 

While the increasing popularity of drones is to be welcomed, there are potential problems that relate to public safety and privacy. No-one is permitted to fly drones without regard to the rules. As a business you have certain responsibilities for the actions of your contractors, so it is important to use a drone operator who is entirely compliant with the latest regulations.

In the UK safety regulations stipulate:

  • The pilot is legally responsible for the safe conduct of the flight
  • People and property must not be endangered.
  • The drone must be kept in visual line of sight of the pilot and can only be flown in daylight hours.
  • It mustn’t be flown within 150 metres of congested areas or open air groups of people of more than 1,000 individuals.
  • It mustn’t be flown within 50 metres of any vehicle or person apart from takeoff and landing.
  • Maximum flying height is 400 feet

Any photographer who pilots a drone commercially must have prior permission from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). This can only be obtained by people who have passed a practical and theoretic exam on flying small unmanned aircraft.

Additionally all images collected are subject to the Data Protection Act as it applies to their collection, storage and use for commercial purposes. Drone photography laws are still in a state of flux so these rules could change in the future. 

 

Finally

 

Drones can add a new dimension to commercial photography. Whether you are looking for a stunning eye in the sky view of your wedding or you wish to use aerial photography for your construction projects, marketing or real estate business, with a drone it becomes not only possible, but affordable too. Drone photography is both cheaper and more versatile than alternatives such as cherry pickers and conventional (manned) aerial photography. You can also capture angles that are not available using other methods.

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How to choose a drone hire company for your TV Shoot https://www.bakehouseaerial.co.uk/how-to-choose-a-drone-hire-company-for-your-tv-shoot/ Wed, 01 Aug 2018 18:07:42 +0000 https://www.bakehouseaerial.co.uk/?p=42546 Bakehouse Aerial - Drone Filming in the UK, based in Yorkshire

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Bakehouse Aerial - Drone Filming in the UK, based in Yorkshire

If you’re looking to get incredible aerial shots for your next TV project, you’re probably already considering hiring a drone, or using a specialist drone filming company.

There’s a lot to consider when choosing a drone hire company, so we’ve put together this guide to a typical drone shoot day, with the key things you can do to make sure the shoot runs smoothly.

Prepping your drone shoot

A typical TV drone shoot day can begin with a very early start. Those sunrise shots wait for no-one, after all! By choosing a professional drone hire company familiar with call sheet times, you can be sure everyone will be on set, on time, and ready to begin.

Communication is key

If you are hiring in a drone operator, you’ll need to be sure they understand the director’s creative vision for the drone shoot. A typical drone shoot day will begin with a meeting to discuss the key shots, and how your team are going to achieve them. Any reputable drone hire company will have already researched the shoot area, and will be aware of any challenges or safety restrictions which need to be considered too.

If workarounds are required, your drone operator should be able to recommend other filming techniques like jibs, gimbals or steadicam to achieve the shots you need.

Creative drone filming

Getting the perfect drone shot is about more than sending it up and hoping for the best! When choosing a drone filming partner, it is worth investing in a company who are able to offer not just the right technical equipment, but those who are able to understand the creative vision for your drone shoot.

Look for a drone company with a solid showreel of similar projects. Client testimonials are also a great way to be sure that your drone operators are skilled at collaborating with producers and directors, and are able to take creative direction. It’s still your shoot, after all.

Not all drones are equal

Time is precious on a shoot, so you need to be sure your drone operator has the right equipment. At Bakehouse Aerial, we use state of the art controls in-flight, along with programmable waypoints to track each shot when necessary. Our drones use real time monitoring, putting you as the client in full control.

When working a drone shoot, it’s important to consider the weather conditions too, as not all drones will suitable in challenging conditions. High winds, or wet weather can all mean delays. The best drone filming companies should be able to advise the most suitable equipment to use, and have a range of options available to ensure the best results.

The final footage

After each shot is captured, you should review the footage with your drone operator to make sure you have all the raw shots you need. Agree with your drone operator the procedure for handing over final footage and any backups required too. If there is any agreed post-production required, it helps to be clear on any timings agreed for final sign off here too.

By choosing only experienced and reputable drone hire companies, you can be sure your drone operator is familiar with each of the steps in a drone shoot above, and there will be no nasty hidden surprises on your shoot day.

To take a look at how we planned and completed a major TV shoot for BBC4 recently, have a look at our Ferrybridge Power Station project case study here (*add link) , or get in touch directly to discuss how we can help you plan your next TV drone filming project.

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New UK drone laws – Press Coverage https://www.bakehouseaerial.co.uk/new-uk-drone-laws-press-coverage/ Mon, 30 Jul 2018 17:38:47 +0000 https://www.bakehouseaerial.co.uk/new-uk-drone-laws-press-coverage/ Bakehouse Aerial - Drone Filming in the UK, based in Yorkshire

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Bakehouse Aerial - Drone Filming in the UK, based in Yorkshire

The press have been covering new UK drone laws over the last couple of days. Here’s a quick run down of what you need to know:

  • Fines of upto £1,000 if you fail to register your drone (if it weighs more than 250g)

New drone rules which are now law:

  • Drones must fly below an altitude of 400ft
  • Drones must not fly within 1 km of any airport’s boundaries
  • Drones weighing over 250g will need to be formally registered with the CAA
  • Drone pilots must be able to present their registration documents if requested to do so by the police.
  • Drone pilots will be required to take a drone safety test before they’re allowed to fly
  • Drone users will be told to use apps to plan their flights, to make sure that they are not entering unsafe or no-fly zones

Recreational drone users must:

  • Always keep the drone within sight
  • Keep 500 ft away from crowds and/or built up areas, if your drone is equipped with a camera
  • Stay 150 ft away from people and buildings, if your drone is equipped with a camera
  • Avoid flying over or 150 ft near to open areas with more than 1,000 people present
  • Adhere to local council’s rules about drone flights in the area

This is all detailed in the Drone Code which can be found here: http://dronesafe.uk/drone-code/

How will the new drone laws improve aviation safety?

New laws introduced today will restrict all drones from flying above 400 feet or within one kilometre of airport boundaries.The legislation follows a year-on-year increase in the report of drone incid… Read more

 

New UK drone laws come into force today and if you flout them you can face jail

Official safety tests will be held for owners in Britain as part of a wave of new laws to crack down on the flying machines. Plans are in place to push forward with laws which would require people who… Read more

 

Drone legislation: use, restrictions and enforcement

The government is to consult on new measures to prevent the misuse of drones, including on-the-spot fines and the ability to seize them if necessary. The new measures are intended to ensure drones are… Read more

No Drone Zone Comes Into Force At Gatwick

Any one caught flying within a kilometer of the airport could go to prison for up to five years or get an unlimited fine. From today, anyone flying an unauthorised drone within one kilometre of Gatwic… Read more

What are the drone laws in the UK, when is it illegal to use them and is there a fine?

POLICE have reported a dramatic surge in neighbour rows and snooping fears involving drones.The unmanned aerial gadgets, most of which are lighter than 250g, have also caused near-misses in our skies…. Read more

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Everything You Need To know.. to make the right choice when hiring a drone operator. https://www.bakehouseaerial.co.uk/hiring-the-best-drone-operator/ Tue, 18 Jul 2017 15:11:28 +0000 http://www.bakehouseaerial.co.uk/?p=77 Bakehouse Aerial - Drone Filming in the UK, based in Yorkshire

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Bakehouse Aerial - Drone Filming in the UK, based in Yorkshire

How do you find the right drone operator when there are 4500 to choose from?

 

As of July 2018 there are approximately 4,500 CAA licensed drone operators in the UK – so finding someone to film your next batch of aerial footage should be easy, right?

Well, maybe not. There are lots of things that you need to look out for, so here’s my completely biased guide to finding a drone crew. We’re commercial drone operators, so the caveat here is: Do your own researchThat said, here we go:

What does “CAA approved” (or PfAW, PfCO, CAA licensed, licensed drone operator…) really mean?

 

The CAA don’t license anyone. They offer a ‘Permission for Commercial Operation’ (PfCO). The PfCO is a document that allows people to charge for their drone work, it also gives certain exemptions to the main law (the Air Navigation Order). That is all a PfCO is.

The CAA PfCO process involves:

  • Attending a ground school for a few class room sessions.
  • Writing an operations manual.
  • Having your operations manual checked and approved.
  • Taking a flight test.

The process does NOT involve:

  • Demonstrating that you can operate a camera.
  • Demonstrating that you can frame a shot so that looks good.
  • Demonstrating that you can fly a drone so that the footage looks good.
  • Demonstrating that you can move control the camera as the drone moves.
  • Demonstrating an understanding of any filmmaking techniques.
  • Demonstrating commercial understanding.

BIAS ALERT! We’re filmmakers that have qualified as drone operators. Real film and photography experience is essential! Without knowledge of filmmaking (and knowing what does and doesn’t work) drone shots quickly become boring. Which is bad.

Finding a drone crew with a PfCO probably demonstrates that they understand their safety case, operational procedures, the law and their technical flight capabilities. I say probably because in some cases it doesn’t really mean anything at all.

You don’t have to look very hard to find training companies that will sell prospective drone operators pre-written operations manual (that the pilot doesn’t really understand). Some operators with PfCOs flying in places they shouldn’t, and beyond the safe operating limits of their drones (breaking the law as they go, either due to ignorance or general disregard).

BIAS ALERT! We wrote our own operations manual. We’ve got a 100% unblemished safety record. We’re insured. We’re in our fifth year of commercial operation.

Around 1 in 4 PfCO holders do not renew their permission, and cease to offer drone services.

TAKEAWAY: If a drone company has a PfCO they can charge you money to do drone work. If they don’t have a PfCO they’re breaking the law when they hire themselves out, and you probably are too. If a drone company doesn’t have a PfCO they don’t have insurance, as the hirer you’d probably get sued in the event of an accident. Not good.

Why are drone weights (7kg, 25kg) relevant and what are ‘heavy lifter’ drones?

 

The CAA grant two main PfCO permissions, one for drones that weigh under 7kg and one for drones weighing under 25kg. Different rules apply to each permission.

A big (heavy) drone will lift a big (heavy) camera. Arguably, you don’t need to lift a big camera very often. To make things confusing, most of the heavy lifter drones in use aren’t lifting big cameras at all, they’re lifting tiny cameras – which means they’re probably not a very good choice. 

Heavy lift drones (bigger drones) are a total pain. They use heavy, dangerous batteries. They fly for relatively short periods of time and they usually can’t fly within 150m of built up areas.

I know this because we had one (a DJI S900). And we stopped using it. Completely. It took a long time to set up, offered virtually no camera control and was really heavy and awkward to move around.

This makes people who have invested £10,000 or £20,000 in their drone platform sad! They like to tell everyone that their larger drone is better, they want to protect their investment in out of date technology – they want to make money with their drone, which is fair enough. But it’s probably not in your best interest to hire ‘big’ drone unless you have a specific need.

BIAS ALERT: We fly commercially with an Inspire 2, we no longer use heavy lift drones. Our Inspire footage has been used by the BBC, Channel 4, 5 & ITV.

Drones with 6 or more motors are a little more stable in the air. In theory they’re a little safer, but also heavier, so in the event of a crash they’re more dangerous. It’s six of one and half a dozen of the other.

The kind of cameras that make using a heavy lift drone worth while are £30k – £50k+, some drone operators work with these types of cameras and have drones capable of lifting them. Some of these heavy lift drone operators have special permissions that allow them to fly their larger drones very close to buildings and other people. These operators charge a premium, if you have a budget of £3k+ per day, then specialist heavy lift operators are a great choice. If you don’t then you’re probably better off avoiding the hassle of big, heavy drones.

TAKEAWAY: If you need to lift a cinema camera like a RED or Alexa, or you’re on a high value TV drama, and if you have a £3k – £5k daily budget – look for a specialist operator (we can recommend one).

What do I need to know about Dual Operator ‘v’ Single Operator drone crews?

 

When you’re filming something complex* with a drone you need two people, one to fly the drone and one to move the camera. The camera moves completely independently of the drone. It’s impossible to create certain types of shot with just one person in control.

Single operators, i.e. a pilot attempting to control the camera at the same time, have two options: Fly simple shots, or use some kind of automated tracking software. Tracking software isn’t very flexible, it will often fail and lose the subject, or just lose the plot in general – like software does.

Pilots are legally obliged to maintain ‘line of sight’ with the drone. If they’re busy looking at the camera view, or programming software, they’re probably not completely aware of the drone’s location. If they’re neglecting their safety obligations, sooner or later something will go wrong.

Some jobs need an observer, or more than one observer. Sometimes this can be the client, camera operator or an additional member of crew. The bottom line is you need a dual operator crew for the best drone footage.

*so what is complex? Well, if you need to track something that is moving – the drone’s AI isn’t particularly good. If you want to pan and tilt the camera at the same time – that really needs a camera operator. If the flight itself is tricky, the last thing the pilot wants to be doing is trying to control a camera. Etc., etc.

BIAS ALERT: Surprise, surprise. We operate as a dual operator company when required!

What do all these technical specifications mean (HD/4K/RAW/PRORES/5.2K/8bit/10bit)?

 

Operating a drone (and filming with it) is a technical endeavour. The hardware needs to be good, the pilot needs to be good, the camera operator needs to know what they’re doing technically, and creatively; and somehow this all has to happen in real time in 3D space. Part of that complexity comes from the quality of cameras and the files that they produce.

When you’re commissioning a drone you may:

  • Know exactly what technical specs you require.
  • Have no idea what technical specs you require.
  • Require specific capabilities but not have the budget to get them.
  • Not care at all.

So, here’s my no-BS guide to filming tech specs:

  • HD – Like your telly at home. HD is a minimum standard for filming.
  • 4K – Like the telly you’ll have at home next year. The picture is 4x bigger than HD. People filming with drones should film at 4K, it’s nothing special and it’s not really about having a bigger picture. 4K lets editors ‘zoom in’ for HD, and also helps if they need to stabilise footage during edit.
  • H.264 / H.265 / MP4 / MOV – Standard filming file formats. 90% of what we’ve filmed for TV is H.264. We’re now beginning to H.265 (smaller files) and Prores (better quality) – depending on client needs.
  • RAW – RAW video images are great, RAW gives colour editors the most flexibility in editing. However RAW takes a beast of a computer process the files and tonnes of storage space (about 1000 gigabytes for 15 minutes of footage). If you really need RAW video expect to use up at least a day extra in edit and to spend £200 or so on hard drives for the footage. If you’re a normal user your computer will not be fast enough to deal with RAW files.
  • PRORES – Prores is an Apple file format, people like Prores because it’s a nice format to edit, it runs fast on Macs, and it protects detail and colour. Prores is great if the camera shoots prores all by itself, but it’s also possible to convert standard files (like H.264s) to Prores, which is a complete waste of time. So. If you need Prores files – make sure they’re captured natively by the camera, not transcoded from 8 bit footage.
  • 5.2K – Like 4K but bigger, why not! Again, this is likely to be RAW or PRORES, you’ll need computers capable of handling it.
  • BITRATE – Guess what? You can have good HD and bad HD, good 4K and bad 4K – it’s probably bit rate that makes the difference. And it does make a difference.
  • 4:2:0 / 4:2:2 / 4:4:4 – If you’ve read this far you’re a real glutton for punishment, well done. I’ll just mention the words “chroma subsampling” – it’s beyond the scope of this article, but if you’re really interested then Google is your friend. 90% of our work to date has been 4:2:0 – which has been fine for use on the BBC, Channel 5, Channel 4 and ITV. For those needing more colour fidelity we can now shoot Prores 4:2:2.

When you’re trying to set a budget.

 

From what I can see price seems to be a fairly good indicator of quality, most of the time.

You’ve got a set of operators working for < £300, their footage tends to look pretty dull. It’s not suitable for commercial projects really, unless you get lucky. Next, you have the middle ground operators working between £300 and £600 – they’re a mixed bag, often one man bands or people with older camera/drone combos. The £600 – £1,000 operators do a lot of commercial and TV work, most of it looks reasonable to me. The £1,200 – £3,000 bracket takes in the specialist operators, and those who can’t bare to put their prices down, even in the face of increasing competition.

BIAS ALERT: We’re in the £600+ range, but we do offer a discounted single operator rate for the Phantom 4 Pro.

When you “only need a drone for an hour”

 

Drone jobs never take an hour. Sometimes a local drone job can be completed before midday, or started after midday and charged at a reduced rate. But more often than not a booking will be at the full day rate to cover the actual work involved.

Unfortunately there is a stack of planning, battery management (this is actually a thing), risk assessing, and set up to every job. Fortunately that means safe and effective drone filming once a crew is on site, but it also means…

  • Legally, all flights need a desktop survey and risk assessment. This takes an hour or two, depending on location and complexity.
  • Most jobs require an hour of discussion / arrangement time upfront.
  • Jobs require a journey, which rarely takes less than an hour.
  • One hour of flying time allows for 2 flights of 20 minutes.
  • From arrival to set up takes about 20 minutes.
  • From finish to leaving site takes about 20 minutes.

When you’re trying to figure our which drones are pro and which are toys.

 

We’ve worked commercially with several drones: A DJI Phantom 4 Pro, a DJI S900, an Aeronavics Skyjib, a Vulcan Black Widow (I’m not making these up), a DJI Mavic Pro, a DJI Inspire 1 and a DJI Inspire 2. Some drones have bespoke cameras, some use standard cameras.

The drone and camera is absolutely important. Photographers like to say “it’s not the equipment that matters, it’s the creativity and vision”. That might be true for street photographers, but not for drones. Every single variable needs to be as good as possible. As good as you can afford.

Here are some common drones, along with what they’re suitable for:

 

  • DJI Phantom, Phantom 2 – Home videos, fun (or anything with a Go Pro)
  • DJI Phantom 3 – Real estate videos, single operator shots.
  • DJI Inspire 1 – Entry level TV, corporate video, web video. Some complex shots. Dual operator. NOTE: Make sure it has an X5 camera, the older X3 doesn’t cut the mustard.
  • DJI Inspire 2 – Any TV, low budget film, corporate. Advanced shots. Dual operator. RAW & PRORES.
  • DJI Spark – Home videos, fun.
  • DJI Mavic – Real estate videos, basic single operator shots. Test flights for bigger drone.
  • DJI Mavic Air – Real estate videos, basic single operator shots. Test flights for bigger drone.
  • DJI Phantom 4 Pro – Damn good drone – don’t consider a using a ‘single operator’ unless they’re flying at least a P4 Pro
  • DJI S900/Skyjib/Vulcan with Panasonic GH4/GH5 – Same as Inspire 1.
  • DJI S900/Skyjib/Vulcan with Sony A7R2/R3 – Great for stills photography, limited flight time, limited camera control.
  • DJI S900/Skyjib/Vulcan with Sony A7S2/A7III night time work, limited flight time, limited camera control.
  • Skyjib/Vulcan/other heavy lifter – Great for REDs and Arri’s. High end solution – TV Drama / Movie budgets.

BIAS ALERT: We’ve owned many of these combos with the exception of Spark. We now exclusively use the DJI Inspire 2 and P4 Pro.

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