Think when Hiring a Drone Pilot

If you’re looking at hiring a drone to assist you in completing a project, there’s a lot to consider.   Obviously you need to be sure that you’re hiring a qualified insured professional pilot and that’s why we recommend using Drone Safe Register to find your perfect drone partner, as all of our pilots are guaranteed CAA approved and insured.

However the considerations don’t stop there. Whether you’re filming for television or cinema, shooting marketing material for your business, carrying out property or land inspections or creating 2D maps and 3D models, there are some things to consider.

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Firstly, is a drone the right tool for the job? It might sound an odd thing for an organisation like Drone Safe Register to say, but while drones can do amazing work, they aren’t right for every occasion.  They are a no-brainer for mapping, surveying and modelling; they can create stunning general views and scene setting shots and capture a location from a completely new viewpoint. However, if you’re looking for a tool to capture interactions between people or pieces to camera then there are better ground based ways of doing it.  Hiring a drone to film something that it’s not really designed for will likely result in the drone operator under-performing and the client being disappointed.

Plan, Plan and Plan Some More

Once you’ve decided that a drone is the tool you need, then this follows on to the next point – plan the shots you want.  Drone pilots will be able to contribute with ideas according to their experience but the clearer the brief you can give, the better your results will be. Flights are relatively short as drone battery life is limited so you will achieve more if you have targeted objectives.  A detailed brief will also allow the pilot to accurately plan, risk assess and flag up any potential issues before the day, avoiding any nasty surprises.

Be Realistic on Timescales

Certain areas and projects will require more planning and consideration than others. For example, flights in congested or sensitive areas may require longer planning time for the relevant permissions to come through, and ensure that your footage is being legally obtained.  It isn’t the drone pilot creating the delay but sometimes, bureaucratic wheels can be slow to turn, so factor this in with your planning to ensure that you can stay on schedule.  A drone pilot with a clear brief will be able to advise you if there are likely to be delays and should be involve in the project as soon as possible.   Also don’t forget that skilled pilots are in demand and may be booked up in advance.

Watch out for the Weather

When it comes to timescales, it’s important to know that the weather also needs to be on your side when it comes to aerial filming and photography and not just from an aesthetic point of view.  Rain and high winds will ground a drone and let’s face it, there’s never any weather guarantees in the UK. All drone pilots will watch the weather for the best opportunities but Mother Nature will do as she wishes so allow a little contingency for her capricious ways.

Not All Drones are Created Equal

The same applies to drone pilots – each will have their specialities and skill sets so always check their show reel and portfolio to ensure that they have the kind of work you are looking for.  It may be worth asking questions about the kind of equipment that they have in their fleet, specifically the payload or camera and lenses that they can deploy, however, you can trust a professional drone pilots to only use the right kit for the job in hand.

If you’re in need of filming for a cinematic project, your operator needs to be able to provide the quality that you are looking for and that is definitely a specialist area that you will likely pay more to achieve.  Inspection work may require different cameras such as thermal and multi-spectral imaging cameras for use in agriculture – it’s a question of finding the right horse for your course.

Post Production

This is a really specialist area when it comes to video and so you need to decide up front whether your want your UAV pilot to provide unedited footage or the finished article.   It’s time consuming work so you’ll need to allow additional time and budget if you don’t want to handle it in-house.  There’s less involved in editing photographs but there will still be an overhead attached to it. Thermal images will need to be interpreted by a thermographer trained in understanding the results obtained, and even a photograph from a house portrait will need to be professionally edited for best results.

Brand New World

The drone industry is still very new and so there can be a tendency to think that a camera in the sky and one operator on the ground are much like another. However, there can be the world of difference between them in terms of equipment, experience and specialisation.  Drones can add benefit and production value to so many projects so the very best advice that we can give you is: –

  • Research your operators to make sure that they have experience in your project requirements

  • Ensure you have briefed them thoroughly so you know it can deliver the quality you require from the most appropriate equipment

  • Be realistic with your timescale, budget and pan for the weather

  • Check that you are using a legal operator with the appropriate insurance and certifications

This way, you will get exactly what you need to enhance and deliver your project. Select form our range of qualified and insured pilots to find the right operator for you.

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Peter jones and drone safe register


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About the Author: DSR Journalist

Harrison Green