Welcome to the January issue!
Happy New Year! I hope your legacy of life stories continues to grow throughout 2019. To kick off the new year, I’ll drone on a bit about how Family Legacy Video® recently took a legacy video to new heights.
I hope you enjoy this issue of the Family Legacy Video® e-Newsletter. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone toll-free (888.662.1294) with any questions or comments you have.
Cheers! – – Steve Pender
Up, up, and away!
2018 was an exciting year for Family Legacy Video®. One reason: We mounted a successful legacy video shoot in Italy (see the September 2018 E-newsletter). Another reason: The Italy shoot gave us our first opportunity to use a drone to capture some truly breathtaking aerials.
While I was producing and editing video for a PR agency on the east coast during the 1970s and 1980s, getting aerial shots was a major undertaking. First, you needed to rent a helicopter and pilot. Then, you had to rig the helicopter with a platform that would hold both a camera and camera operator; it was all very expensive and time-consuming. While there are still reasons that big budget productions go the helicopter route, drone technology, combined with lighter cameras, has opened up relatively inexpensive access to the skies for the rest of us.
As farmers in a mountainous area south of Rome, my client’s parents lived a challenging life. They were unable to sit back and truly enjoy the beauty surrounding them because of their daily need to scrape a living from the land. According to my client, his parents came to appreciate that beauty only after they emigrated to the U.S. and then returned years later for a visit. Capturing views of the countryside, mountains, towns, and villages that figured in his family story would be crucial. I immediately thought of aerials, and a drone to supply them, as a way to show off his ancestral homeland to its best effect.
In addition, my client and his family would be visiting the farmhouse where he was born and would be threading their SUV through narrow village roads on a drive to the church where his parents were married. The birds-eye view provided by a drone would allow us to cover these activities in really exciting ways. My client agreed, and we incorporated a drone into our game plan.
Luckily, we found a drone pilot who lived near where we’d be shooting. We booked him and his Phantom 4 Pro drone for the duration of our shoot. On the very first day, watching the feed from his drone as it rose above the rooftops of a medieval Italian town to reveal the surrounding mountains and countryside, I knew we had made the right choice. Throughout the shoot, our drone panoramas that we never could have captured otherwise; we also used it to simulate boom shots of structures like statues, towers, and building facades.
1. Regulations regarding drones will vary from location to location, so make sure you have the proper permissions when shooting over towns and cities. I took pains to meet with local officials (one a mayor and the other the head of the local tourist office) in the two towns where we planned to fly the drone. First, out of courtesy to make sure they knew who we were and what we were up to. Second, I wanted to get permission to fly over their areas and to see if permits were needed. They received us with open arms. No permits were required and, in fact, the tourist official was quite helpful getting us into a medieval tower and the church that was a key location.
2. Hire an experienced pilot. Discuss the job with the pilot or pilots you’re considering hiring, so they know what to expect and you can make sure they have the gear needed to do the job. If possible, view some sample clips showcasing their aerial work. Once on the job, be clear about the shots you’d like, but also ask for the pilot’s suggestions. Just let the pilot know what you’d like to achieve and chances are he/she can offer you some creative options.
3. Drones are noisy. Our Phantom 4 Pro sounded like a swarm of angry bees. Don’t plan on recording usable sound (dialogue, for example) when you’re shooting with a drone. For the instances where I wanted to see my client and his family from the air, but hear what they were saying, we first shot their action with ground-based cameras and wireless microphones. Then, we repeated the action and recorded with the drone. In the edit, I combined the audio from the ground with the action from the air. Since the drone was high above the family, you couldn’t see that their dialogue was out of sync, and those sequences worked beautifully.
– Steve Pender