Is drone footage essential?
IS drone footage essential in contemporary video and film making or is it just a nice option to add polish to the main story? You may be a viewer, a content producer or someone who commissions videos but you probably have an opinion on the subject. I'd love to know where you stand on the inclusion of drone footage in the videos you watch make or commission. Personally I don’t own a drone, have never included drone footage or commissioned a specialist drone operator. Thus far I have never felt the need to include it above other production needs.
Do I really need a drone?
Don’t get me wrong aerial footage adds an extra dimension to finished cuts. With the recent affordability explosion it seems seen the world go drone footage crazy. Crazy to the point where they form much of a content of an increasing number of videos. Does this mean that viewers expect or want it in the videos they watch? Or will the increased use lead to it's downfall through overuse.
Using camera motion is great for impact but show something sensational too many times and it becomes the norm. It can even result in being less impactive and even detracting from the main story.
So just how much drone footage is ideal in a finished cut, 20 percent, 10 percent, 2 percent? If there is none do you think the video lacked something?
Overuse isn't restricted to drones, the temptation with any new tool at is to use it a lot. Using it a lot is great in terms of learning to use it well and acquire plenty of coverage. As any editor knows it’s a painful place sitting in front of the timeline without enough coverage! Selective sparing use of drone footage is in my opinion the best way to maintain its impact in final cuts.
I have a decent amount of quality production kit at my immediate disposal but I don't own a drone. There have been times when I have considered the purchase but there has always been a better use for those funds. I favour high quality cameras and lenses striving for a high IQ. This is on the basis that to expect quality output, high quality acquisition is required. So the majority of my investment goes on the A camera set-up and lens package.
The downside for one man band operations such as myself is having to equip yourself to provide a variety of coverage. This could be a second camera, speciality cams like POV, underwater etc. Providing motion in terms of a slider, camera crane, motorised heads and of course drones.
This is where the budget gets stretched especially when like me you allocate a large amount of it to your main A cam / lens set-up. So what do you do with the rest of the budget? Spread it thinly and buy the cheaper end of the market options just to have the capability of capturing a wider variety of shots? Or accept that you won't even attempt to acquire this ‘bonus’ coverage and not buy the cheap options for those tasks. This latter approach leaves you with a bit more of the budget to direct towards say a better B cam of better slider or a better drone.
For me I have always ended up with the other options ahead of the drone. That doesn't mean to say I won't ever add one to my arsenal at some point? As the prices are coming down and the base quality increasing it is becoming a viable option.
There are other issues to consider, the ever changing and more restrictive licensing and registration aspects of drone usage. The question of public liability insurance - does your current policy cover such usage? Do you even have PL insurance? If you provide a professional service then you should of course be insured.
It seems like the world and relatives are all running around grabbing drone footage so perhaps there is the root overuse. The new restrictions would mean any professional outfit will need the appropriate certificates and insurances in place.
This in itself may well reduce the appetite to religiously shoot such footage. I can see increased legislative control of drone use in commercial video production leading to a situation where the truly pro operators will be the only ones using it regularly. We will eventually arrive at a situation where finished video offerings are not drone footage saturated. There will always be the g those who will just carry on and grab footage without complying with legal requirements. Thats ok for them... until they come up against a problem.
What Do You Think?
So what do you think, if you are a producer, camera op, video maker has the drone become an essential must have for you? If you are a consumer, a video viewer, I’d love to know what you think too? Is drone footage essential in this day and age or is it just a frill that adds a little bit of polish to a production? Does it turn you off viewing if the video has too much drone footage at the expense of a decent story or core content? Let me know your thoughts you can: