10 Questions About: Hiring a Crew with a UAS
Drones are amazing tools. With cameras such as the ARRI Alexa, the GoPro Hero4, and E1 getting smaller and lighter while still shooting high quality video in any location, drones allow DPs to grab stunning aerial footage and creative shots they were not otherwise able to capture. Crews Control represented DP Jordy Klein recently sat down with us here at Crews Control, and I had the opportunity to interview Jordy to get the answers for the most important questions a client should know when hiring a crew with a drone:
So let’s start with the most important question: do you have your 333 Exemption?
Absolutely. Never hire a crew that doesn’t have this exemption because you run the risk of receiving a fine from the FAA.
Have you ever crashed during a shoot?
I love this question. It always makes me laugh – people’s reactions are priceless when you ask them this. It’s like asking a camera operator if he’s ever dropped a camera during a shoot. In reality, anyone who says “I never crash” doesn’t know what they’re talking about…or they’ve never actually flown a UAS. While I have never actually crashed an aircraft on a shoot, I have certainly had my share of mishaps during the testing of new hardware. This could have just as easily been on a shoot.
Do you bring a spare aircraft or spare parts for your drone in case you have a minor accident?
Always – unless it’s cost prohibitive. If I’m unable to bring a spare drone because of shipping costs or space, I’ll bring all major components needed to repair it in case of an accident. Don’t listen to someone saying their drones are “state of the art” and “never have problems” because that’s just not true. They’re all made of electronic parts from China and are usually hobby-grade. You may only get one flight out of your drone or you could get a thousand. It’s kind of like playing Russian Roulette.
What kind of parts do you bring?
I always have spare propellers, motors, electronic speed controllers, motor arms, and a flight controller on hand. You should always ask your crew what kind of flight controller they use. If they don’t know, that’s a HUGE red flag.
Okay. What kind of flight controller do you use?
I’m not sure…JUST KIDDING. Most people just use DJI Flight controllers. The most common low end DJI controller is the Naza, the high and would be the WooKong and A2. All of these are good controllers. Freefly also makes really nice aircraft and controllers; most other controller on the market is just a DJI copycat.
How many battery packs do you need to bring?
I usually bring 6. That’s the magic number. I bring 6 memory cards as well. I always change the memory card between flights. It would suck if you had an incident and lost all the footage from previous flights just because you didn’t change cards .
Is that usually what it takes to last the whole day?
Yes, that’s usually plenty – even if the client is asking for repetitive flights that always lasts me. Even so, I always bring a small Honda generator with me to these shoots to charge the batteries on-site if I need to. My generator can charge up to three packs at a time. You can also use a car battery, but it’s nowhere near as fast. If you don’t have a generator I highly recommend purchasing one – you can even rent one from a place like Home Depot if you need.
What kind of video downlink do you have?
The DJI Light Bright is pretty common, and the best to use is a Connex. Both of these are high end HD transmitters. Some people use SD transmitters because of how reliable they are but…they’re SD.
Do you have a second monitor for the client to see the video?
Always. I have a 15” monitor that I bring for clients to look off of and to keep them from constantly looking over my shoulder at my monitor. Both of my monitors run off the same batteries as my aircraft.
Do you have insurance?
I sure do.
And it covers the aircraft camera?
It does indeed cover the aircraft camera. Crashes can happen and a crew should never ask the client to recoup money for an accident. I certainly never would.
I think that was more than 10!
Totally fine! I’m always happy to answer questions.
Thanks for your time, Jordy!
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