We’ve all dreamt of flying above the earth, in a languid perspective that reveals the secrets of our landscapes; which perhaps why the “aerial shot” is one of the most elemental parts of film productions; something that either gives us direct narrative perspective, or allows us to lose any perspective to a fugue state of wonderment.
However, getting that stuff has traditionally been very expensive; but those costs have dipped dramatically now that camera-carrying drones have started to become increasingly prevalent as a new and flexible method of obtaining that all-important aerial footage. A drone is a much easier and cost-effective production method, and new company Airstoc offers up cost effective alternatives to filmmakers by offering both off-the-shelf stock footage, but also, for the more adventurous productions, the opportunity get hooked up with camera operators to create their own specific footage.
We talked with Glen Moore of Airstoc to get the down low on the high shots:
1) We’ve all heard increasingly about drones in the last couple of years: how did your company get ahead of the curve in identifying this as such a rich area for commerce?
One of the co-founders is a professional drone operator. He decided in 2011 that drones will be the future and set up his own drone filming business then. As you can imagine he struggled a lot in the early stages because no one was using drone technology really. However, in 2013 he saw the operators in the UK and abroad growing exponentially, and realised that someone had to capture this market early doors to bring it all together and help it grow. So as a result we set up Airstoc with the philosophy of working with the very best professional drone operators in the world and help drive the industry forward.
2) As well as being able to buy stock imagery from your site, Airstoc offers a “bespoke” option where clients can commission new footage. How does this work? Does your service refer a local operator and drone/camera; and if so do you also work on permits and permissions?
We work with some of the very best professional operators from around the world and currently in 66 countries, giving us a global reach and enabling us to refer local operators in that region, where possible. Customers from any industry and anywhere in the world, can come onto our site and request bespoke work, obtain various quotes and confirm the job, thus eliminating all the stress, time and cost they would typically spend on this process. It is a very simple process for them which will continually improve and adapt with the industry.
We cover all jobs whether this is for a few photographs, a full promotional video, aerial mapping to a cinematic production, with our operators having the necessary equipment to carry out a multitude of jobs. Our site also allows customers to see the work of our operators by viewing their profile pages or stock footage prior to confirming any job.
At the moment the operators liaise with the customers to organise permits/permissions. This is helped by working with local professional operators who know their countries regulations and process for obtaining permits/permission. Sometimes customers will have this organised and other times the operators, but it is something in the future we want to bring into our offering.
3) What kind of legal and safety restrictions are there in ascertaining whether a drone shoot is either practical or permissible?
At Airstoc we don’t carry out our shooting, we utilise our network of operators for this. However, as we work internationally, we have to be aware of all the rules and regulations so we are well informed and know the limits.
As a UK company, and focussing on this country for now, we are lucky to have formalised rules and regulations in place, with operators who want to be professional and fly commercially having to obtain a licence. The CAA [Civil Aviation Authority] still has a long way to go, but compared to other countries, these regulations have really helped develop this industry in this country.
All operators have to obtain permission prior to flying with some areas of wilderness being very easy to get approval. It becomes much more difficult in and around cities, where permission is still possible to obtain but takes longer with a keen focus on the safety aspect. Then there are areas, such as airports, where high restrictions are in place.
This process and approval method is very different country to country but the key elements are the same and all professional operators place a huge emphasis on safety, and will ultimately make the final decision as to whether it is possible to fly or not.
4) How can filmmakers save costs on their own productions by taking the “leap” to using drones?
Drone technology has and will continue to revolutionise the film industry, amongst many others. It suddenly opens up a new dimension and a completely unique perspective that you just cannot get from other methods. The most exciting aspect is this technology has only just scraped the surface and has already transformed films.
One of the most important factors is the cost for filmmakers. Using drone technology is a fraction of the cost of traditional methods and suddenly enables aerial shots to be captured in different locations around the world. This enables both independent and small filmmakers, alongside multinational production companies, to utilise this technology and add a dimension to their production they never have been able too before.
On top of being low cost, the quality is incredible, the equipment can be deployed in minutes and it fills the void between ground cameras and traditional aerial filming methods, by working from ground height up to 400ft; and these are just a few examples as to why they adopt this technology. I always say to any potential customer to give the technology a try once and let them decide; not surprisingly these are now regular repeat customers.
You can see Airstoc’s website at: https://www.airstoc.com