The safety of the crew and the people we are working with is naturally our main concern, so there are a few drone safety rules that need to be followed in order to make it a rewarding and pleasurable experience for everyone involved.
Pilot and ground crew
The pilot has the responsibility of ensuring the safety of everyone concerned, so he/she also gets to have the final say. While working with the director to achieve the best final result is of paramount importance, if a shot is deemed unsafe by the pilot it may mean having to consult with the director to make adjustments/changes in order to find a safer way to achieve a specific shot.
People, Privacy, Public Roads and Controlled Airspace
Aero Drone Films has a very strict policy with regards to drone safety and privacy and not endangering the public. To this end we practice the following restraints:
- No encroaching on peoples’ private space without their express permission (so no spying on the neighbours or stalking celebrities and so forth).
- No flying over public roads unless the road has been cordoned off specifically for a shoot and all cast and crew members are completely aware of the drone and drone safety rules at all times.
- No flying in or around crowds unless crowd is part of a film set or advert and are extra’s or crew and fully aware of the drone.
- No flying in controlled or prohibited airspace
Line of site
Flying the drone out of line of site the pilot is not only reckless, but dangerous as well. We keep our drones within a range of about 150m from the pilot, and always with an unobstructed view of the craft, for safety reasons as well as to maintain maximum control of the craft and better accuracy in getting the shot. If the shots are planned properly there are very few reasons to need to go any further away.
Max Height and Speed
The maximum height we will take the drone to is 100m for the safety of the people on the ground as well as any possible air traffic that may be in the area, although helicopters and planes have to maintain an altitude well above the 100m limit we have. Generally speaking however we prefer to stay within a 50m ceiling. This also ensures maximum control of the craft and more accurate flying to get the shot.
High speed flying can create unstable footage as well as endanger the gear and anyone or anything in the immediate vicinity. So while we are able to do tracking shots relatively safely at about 25 to 30km/h, we advise against it. There are other ways of achieving the illusion of speed in Post Production or with altitude and angle of the drone.
Mother Nature naturally plays a big part in whether or not outdoor filming can take place. Flying in rain and fog is not possible and wind is a big factor as well. Even though the drones are fitted with GPS navigation systems which help to keep the craft where they should be, gusting winds in excess of 10km/h make it unsafe to fly. Other factors to take into consideration are thermals, updrafts and downdrafts, which can be found close to mountain sides or buildings etc. Because of these factors, any flying close to a building (for example), can only be done in ideal weather conditions to ensure safety.