Aerial photos or videos can be a great way to capture a new, exciting angle of your special event! Adding people or movement as the subject of drone footage adds interest to the shot, which makes for compelling imagery. This new perspective is growing in popularity for many types of events, from weddings to fundraisers to fairs and festivals.
But because drones can be dangerous when flying around groups of people, the FAA has set rules in place to ensure that safety procedures are followed by all drone pilots. These rules are very clear on what you can and can’t do as a pilot. In spite of these restrictions, you are still able to shoot stunning images of events! If you are prepared, properly trained, and take all the right precautions, you can capture amazing photos and videos to commemorate any event!
Follow These Basic Guidelines
First of all, there are several things you should take the time to do when droning over an event. The most important thing to do is always to be prepared and make sure you research the area in which you will be flying before the day of the event. The following are some steps to take to ensure you capture the event as best you can while staying safe:
Plan, Plan, Plan
Before the event begins, make sure you do your research! Know the schedule of the event, map out any obstacles, scope it out on Google maps, identify launch location, etc. This way there will be no surprises when the event is actually happening. After all, this event will only happen once, you don’t want to miss anything!
Visit Site the Day Before Shooting
Sometimes it can be helpful to make a trip out to the event venue before the day of the event.
When scoping out the venue, identify a good launch location for your drone, as well as a backup spot in case it is unavailable during the event. It also might be worthwhile to do a quick test flight to see exactly what the venue will look like from the sky. This could also be an opportunity to capture some establishing shots, even if no one is at the event yet. For example, if you have been hired to shoot a wedding at a church, you could take some establishing photos or videos of the church to showcase the venue – when edited together no one will know they weren’t taken the same day!
Get There Early
Again, the last thing you want to do is miss anything. Get there early – like, really early – to have enough time to set up and ready to fly long before the event even starts. Always leave extra time in case you can’t find parking, get stuck in traffic, or anything else that could go wrong!
Stay on the perimeter, not straight above people
The most important rule to follow from the FAA, regarding events, is that you cannot fly directly over people! Yes, that can make flying over an event a bit complicated, but it is essential that this rule is followed to keep everyone safe. So to avoid being directly over people, stay low and capture the event from an angle.
Bring backup equipment
Always bring backups for everything! Whether it’s batteries, propellers, SD cards, etc., make sure you have more than you think you will need. You only get one chance to capture the shot – once the event is over, it’s over!
Bring a Visual Observer
Because you will be flying close to people, it is all the more important to keep an eye on your drone. It’s easy to focus on what you are filming and lose sight of your actual drone, so bring a friend to keep an eye on it to be sure you are maintaining a good distance from any obstacles.
Avoid These Mistakes
There are also a few things you definitely should not do when flying over an event. These things could put people in danger of getting injured, risk breaking or losing your drone, or disturb the event. The following are several things you should avoid when capturing an event with a drone:
Flying Directly Above People
This is the big one. No matter what the event, make sure to never fly directly over a group of people! Imagine if your drone ran out of battery and fell from the sky directly over a crowded event – someone could get really hurt! Not to mention the lawsuit that would put you out of business. Get creative on how to capture the event without ever putting your drone right over anyone.
Distracting from the Actual Event
I’m sure you’ve noticed that drones can be a bit noisy. Depending on the model that you have, your drone might be loud enough to draw people’s attention away from the event. Getting too close can be noisy and distracting. Ideally, you can take off and land without anyone even noticing you are there!
Flying Too High
Another common mistake is flying too high over the event. From 400 ft, people look very small and hard to distinguish. Try to get as close as you can without putting anyone in danger, but also staying far enough that the drone is not distracting – the sweet spot in my experience is about 200-250 ft., but can vary depending on the event.
Taking Off Too Close to the Event
If anything goes wrong while your drone is in the air, chances are that it will automatically return to the home point, and you might not be able to stop it. Make sure to set the return to home far enough away from the event that if something does go wrong, there is no chance of the drone landing too close to a group of people.
Following these guidelines will help you be successful when droning over any event!
Get Certified to Fly Commercially
The Dronegenuity Part 107 Test Prep Course does a deep dive into all of the topics that are covered on the FAA’s Part 107 Exam. This exam is required for drone users who intend on using their drone commercially. In other words, if you intend on making money with your drone, this course sets you up to take the FAA’s exam and get your certification. We’ll cover topics such as FAA regulations, weather, radio communications, sectional charts (of course), the national airspace system, and more. Enroll now to take your first step towards FAA certification.
We’d love to hear from you if you want to learn more about the benefits of aerial drone photography for the real estate industry. If you’re interested in obtaining your Part 107 Commercial Drone License or other drone training courses, please contact us at Dronegenuity today! We offer professional aerial photography services, performed by FAA licensed drone operators for customers of all sizes. All of the work that we do is completely customized and we make the process simple and convenient.