Hollywood Welcomes the Drones

Nice report from CNN on Hollywood’s official foray into drone photography:

A small UAV offers amazing advantages for filmmakers – acting both as a crane and as an aerial photography platform.  This will save huge dollars in production costs and logistics.

Unfortunately, the FAA’s exemption system to date sets high barriers to entry that, in our view, are largely unnecessary.

Drone Tech News of the Day

Every day, we see more and more stories on developments in drone tech. Here are some stories that have been making the rounds, today.

Somebody went out and created a biodegradable drone:

The bulk of the prototype is made of a root-like fungal material called mycelium. It was cultivated in a custom drone shape by Ecovative Design, a company in Green Island, New York, that grows the stuff as a lightweight sustainable alternative for applications like wine packaging and surfboard cores.

The fungal body has a protective covering of sticky cellulose “leather” sheets grown by bacteria in the lab. Coating the sheets are proteins cloned from the saliva of paper wasps – usually used to waterproof their nests. Circuits were printed in silver nanoparticle ink, in an effort to make the device as biodegradable as possible.

So far, so good. But then there’s this:

The next part the team hope to make safe to degrade are the drone’s sensors, and they have already started studying how to build them using E. coli bacteria.


DJI has launched a kick-ass new drone that includes a 4k camera. We just like the way this looks.

Back in Hollywood, people are starting to understand the potential benefits from the FAA’s approval of seven 333 exemption applications:

The day rate for a helicopter can range from $20,000 to $40,000 with crew. Operating a drone with crew can cut costs down to a rate that ranges between $9,000 to $15,000, according to Carmean. Elements that affect drone day rates pends the camera, aircraft, crew and location.

“The possibility of making shots that you couldn’t do before is extremely exciting. A director and a director of photography can say I want this shot in a movie and we can get it without a helicopter,” said Poster.

“The insurance; it’s a lot cheaper to insure a 25-pound drone than it is to insure a three-ton helicopter,” Chris Schuster, CEO and lead drone pilot at Vortex Aerial told TheWrap.

The demo video at the link is pretty cool.

Music Video Would Be Illegal to Film in the U.S.!

Pop band OK GO is well-known for its innovative music videos, in which the band captures amazing in-camera effects and choreography in a single take. Their most recent video, for their song, “I Won’t Let You Down,” is no exception. This Busby Berkeley-style production will put a smile on your face:

How did they manage to do that? Well, part of the answer is that they used a drone.

It is perhaps worth noting that the video was filmed in Japan, where they seem to have taken a more pragmatic approach to drone photography than our own government. If this had been filmed in the U.S., OK GO might have been hit with a hefty fine, and we might have been deprived of the pleasure of watching this delightful production.

FAA agrees to movie production exemption

The FAA has agreed to grant an exemption to Hollywood production companies to use drones in aerial photography. Although the scope of the exemption is not entirely clear, based on the article, this seems like a breakthrough:

In May, seven aerial photo and video production companies asked for regulatory exemptions (known as a 333 exemption) that would allow the film and television industry to use drones with FAA approval. Those seven companies and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), were asked by the FAA to develop the guidelines and safety procedures under which they planned to operate. The FAA reviewed those procedures and is expected to approve the drone-specific rules and standards that will enable Hollywood to be exempt from existing aviation regulations.

One might hope that those procedures can serve as a model for other aerial photographers, but with one major caveat: Hollywood productions tend to exercise greater control over the filming location than many could possibly afford. A typical movie or television location crew will employ local law enforcement and/or private security to prevent interlopers from wandering onto the set. They also tend to have numerous production assistants acting as spotters and gofers, all within walkie-talkie range.

Still, progress is progress. It will be interesting to see the final guidelines when they are published.

Disney files three patent applications for drones

The Orlando Sun-Sentinel reports in a not-as-funny-as-the-writer-thinks-he-is sort of tone that Disney has filed a series of patent applications to use drones in its theme parks.

The first two systems

could be used for the drones to carry either screens for displays or lights overhead. Both would be lightweight and flexible enough to move easily and be controlled from the ground. Of course, both easily could be seen as creating a high-tech digital fireworks show overhead that would be safer and more controlled – and which would cost less than the nightly pyrotechnics that go off at the parks now, as well.

The third concept

would use multiple drones attached to balloons or super-large puppets to make them move – and in the case of the puppets, seemingly walk – as the drones control the movements of the characters’ limbs.

We suspect that part of Disney’s goal is to produce shows similar to this:

Or, pace the linked article, perhaps Disney has other plans in mind?


h/t SaintPetersblog