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What is a drone?
A drone in this context (Air) is loosely referred to as a Remote Piloted Aircraft (RPA) which is basically an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). The most common UAVs configuration for commercial drone use is the quad-copter. The quad-copter has 4 spinning propellers to generate lift, and resembles a mini-helicopter. They are very popular for video shoots due to it’s vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) and holding altitude capabilities .
Before the rise in consumer interest in UAVs, the word “drone” was primarily used to refer to the UAVs used by the military.
What is the best drone?
Each drone is designed to fill a specific mission profile. The determining factor will depend on a lot of different factors: Image Quality, Payload Capacity, Special Features, Battery Life, Project Budget, Project Location among other things.
All and all it will really all come down to your own personal opinion. However, at the time of writing this, we believe the DJI’s Inspire 2 with X7 camera is the best pro-consumer drone available on the medium-to-low budget Film and TV market, followed closely by it’s cousin drones, the Mavic 2 Pro and newly released Mavic 3 series.
The higher end bigger-budget Film and TV drones usually require a heavy-lifter and more than one operator: a Remote Pilot in Command (RPIC) and a Payload Operator. The payload operator is usually controlling a Gimbal/Camera combo and/or a wireless Focus control. This option allows you to greatly modify the payload Camera (Arri, RED, DSLRs, etc) and switch between prime lenses.
What kind of regulations are there to fly a drone?
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ruled in 2018 that if you operate a drone commercially that weighs between 0.55 lbs and 55 lbs, you must register it through them and obtain a Part 107 Certification.
Registering your drone with the FAA requires you to provide them your name, address, and phone number as well as paying a $5 fee. The registration number will last for 3 years. The part 107 license has to be renewed every two years.
Aside from the registration and license requirement, the FAA also has basic rules in place for commercial and non-commercial users:
Don’t fly near manned aircraft
Fly below 400 feet AGL or “above ground level”
Keep the drone in line-of-sight (LOS)
You cannot fly a drone that weighs over 55lbs without additional certification
You cannot fly your drone for commercial purposes (unless you have a part 107 license)
Don’t fly within 5 miles of an airport without a Certificate of Authorization (COA)
You cannot fly your drone over stadiums, prisons or critical infrastructure
Don’t fly your drone over people or crowds of people without an FAA Exemption.
These regulations are put in place to ensure safety to yourself, to others, and to manned aircrafts in the sky.