Ask Drone Girl: How do I fly my drone over an event?

Photo screen grab from The Drone Dudes

Here’s the next installment of Ask Drone Girl. Got a question for her? Send your email here.

Question

Hi Drone Girl,

My name is Laura and my son and his cousin started a droning business in Michigan about a year ago. Recently they were asked to drone a festival in our town, Lake Orion, and they readily accepted needing the exposure. I have a question…have you ever filmed a festival or in an area with large crowds. How do you launch your drone? Do you cordon off an area or have a launch pad? We’re worried about the thousands of people milling around the area and the danger of the blades of the drone.

Thank you,
Laura

P.S. the boys company is insured.

Answer

Hey Laura,

This is a great question, and I’m glad you have safety first in mind! Flying over people is tricky. Take the exposure, and give exposure to safe drone flying practices while you’re at it.

I have filmed in large crowds, and it’s tricky! People love to come up to you and talk to you about what you’re doing, and while it’s easy to want to be friendly and have a chat, you also need to focus. I photographed a crowd with a drone flying over Crissy Broadcast in The Presidio for The San Francisco Chronicle. Luckily at this event there weren’t too many people, so I was able to stand away from people in a grassy area to launch, without having to cordon off an area. Most drone injuries happen during takeoff and landing, so Continue reading Ask Drone Girl: How do I fly my drone over an event?

Drone footage shows massive scale of Beirut protests

This is an excerpt from a story written for MarketWatch.com. Read the entire story here.

MW-DS924_beirut_20150824154435_ZH (1)Thousands of people in Beirut gathered to protest a trash dispute that has led to giant garbage piles across the country.

The protests have been mostly coordinated by participants of the “You Stink” campaign, a group calling for answers to a crisis that began back in July when residents of a town hosting Lebanon’s largest landfill refused to allow garbage trucks to dump waste there, according to The Wall Street Journal. The protesters called for the government to find an alternative landfill site, but with no alternatives, garbage collection is at a standstill.

This weekend’s protests quickly turned ugly, as police fired water cannons and rubber bullets at the crowd. At least one protester died.

Drone footage shows the scale of the protest in the streets around Martyrs’ Square:

This isn’t the first time drones have been used to document protests.

“It’s a valuable tool — a way for reporters to get a perspective on the action and get a sense of the size of the protest,” said Faine Greenwood, an analyst at policy think tank New America, who studies the development of drones.

Aerial video of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests went viral in September 2014, showing shots of the crowd as it massed in the city’s business district. Months later, a drone showed footage of thousands of activists marching in Mexico City on November 20 demanding action from the government following the disappearances of 43 students in Mexico’s Guerrero state in September.

But there are also potential issues when using drones to cover protests, including safety reasons.

“You don’t want drones flying over people’s heads for no good reason other than just a gimmick,” Greenwood said.

Read the rest of this story here.

Behold, the rise of the drone film festival

This is an excerpt of a piece originally written for MarketWatch.com. Read the entire thing here.

It seems like just about everyone in San Francisco has had a drone for a few years now, including this guy who proposed to his future-fiancee in Alamo Square.

And now, San Francisco is getting its first-ever drone film festival.

The Flying Robot international Film Festival is accepting submissions through Sept. 15 of short films less than five-minutes long, where aerial footage is central to the narrative.

“I had the idea for a drone film festival after witnessing the rise of so much epic aerial filmmaking over the past few years,” the festival’s creator, Eddie Codel, wrote on his website.

“Now that consumer camera drones are readily available and fairly inexpensive, we’re seeing a huge uptick in aerial cinema on YouTube and Vimeo. I want to highlight the best stuff out there and really encourage filmmakers to take it to the next level.”

Categories include “Cinematic,” “Aerial Sports,” “Drones for Good,” and “Student Film.” The winning films will be screened on Nov. 19 at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco.

Read the rest of this story here.

This ‘airborne pet’ drone flies on a leash

This is an excerpt of an article written by Drone Girl for MarketWatch.com. Read the entire story here.

When a two-pound toy drone crashed on the White House grounds in early 2015, the nation went into a frenzy over legal and safety issues surrounding drones.

President Barack Obama called for greater regulation of drones, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer brought up the specter of al Qaeda-manned drones, and the drone-maker itself installed a firmware update that prevents its drones from flying near the White House.

But one company’s potential technological solution seems completely contradictory to the purpose of drones: Putting them on a leash.

_MG_9426Zurich-based robotics company Perspectives Robotics AG plans to announce Tuesday the Fotokite Phi, a $349, consumer-grade “tethered flying camera.”

The drone flies itself on the end of a tether, controlled by simple gestures of the controller.

Perspectives Robotics is known for creating Fotokite Pro, a $10,000 drone that uses a tether to provide an unlimited power supply from the ground. Its users include journalists from the BBC. Now the company is targeting hobbyists looking for a small, portable drone to bring on hikes or to picnics.

“With the broadcast version, you’re looking at high-quality video,” founder Sergei Lupashin said. “With this, you’re looking at affordability and making them accessible.”

_MG_9425The Fotokite Phi is the only consumer drone on the market that doesn’t rely on remote piloting or GPS. Instead, the user points the leash in the direction they want to go and the drone follows.

“It’s a cross between an airborne pet and a steadicam in the sky,” Lupashin said.

At 12 ounces, it’s the lightest GoPro-carrying quadcopter on the market, and it folds into a compact carrying case about the size of a two-liter soda bottle. The leash extends 26 feet, which is about two and a half stories high.

Read the rest of this story on MarketWatch.com.

Meet The Drone Girl at InterDrone

Less than a month from now, you’ll find me in Vegas!

I’m psyched to be a part of the guest speaker list at InterDrone at the Rio Las  Vegas from Sept. 9-11.

Here’s my schedule:

“Dronalism” is More Than Pretty Photos
Thursday, September 10
9:15 am – 10:15 am

Women in Drones Luncheon (Panelist)
Thursday, September 10
12:30 pm – 1:45 pm

Panel: Dronalism: Charting the Course for Newsgathering with Drones
Friday, September 11
10:00 am – 11:00 am

Is there anything you’d like to learn about from me at Interdrone? Particularly for my Dronalism (aka drones-for-journalism class)? Leave a comment below!

Get more information about InterDrone here.

 

GoPro drone effort boosted by data, but leader DJI says it’s tougher than it looks

This excerpt comes from an article originally written by Sally French for MarketWatch.com. Read the full story here.MW-DQ085_gopro__20150714183022_ZH

GoPro Inc. is set to launch a quadcopter drone in the first half of 2016, and FAA data shows the action-camera company could be a behemoth that challenges current drone makers for market dominance.

GoPro’s drone is entering the consumer-level drone market to some competition, primarily from Chinese drone maker Dajiang Innovation Technology along with smaller competitors including 3D Robotics, Inc. and Parrot SA.

Currently, 42.9% of U.S. drones that have been granted a Section 333 Exemption by the Federal Aviation Administration — allowing drone pilots to operate commercially — are manufactured by DJI. AeroVironment comes in second place with a 9.1% share of the total registered drones, trailed by 3D Robotics and PrecisionHawk, according to a Drone Analyst report. Goldman Sachs analysts also say DJI is the leading manufacturer of drones being used for commercial purposes, with an estimated 70% market share in 2014.

In other words, there’s really only one major consumer-based drone company that GoPro needs to compete with in a growing market for unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs. Goldman Sachs estimates the drone market is worth $1.4 billion in 2015, but forecasts it to more than triple by 2017, based on the assumption that GoPro may produce wider appeal for consumer drones.

Drone Analyst

“Privately operated UAVs are a big opportunity,” GoPro spokesman Jeff Brown said. “We believe the recent spike in adoption is attributable to the jaw-dropping video content generated by consumers.”

But DJI says creating a drone, is a more difficult task than making a camera.

“Generally, creating a new drone is much harder than creating a new phone or camera,” DJI spokesman Michael Perry said. “The levels of quality control and testing involved are significantly harder for teams with smaller R&D teams.”

Read the rest of this story here.

DJI releases Phantom 3 Standard

large_P3C_01DJI’s drones just keep getting cheaper.

DJI this week released its most inexpensive drone yet.

Designed specifically for first-time pilots, the DJI Phantom 3 Standard is much like the Phantom 3 Advanced and Professional, but with newbies in mind.

Unlike the Advanced and Professional with an unlimited maximum altitude that can fly as far as 6,500 feet safely, the Standard limits the altitude to 400 feet and can along fly as far as a half mile. The camera also shoots 2.7K video vs the Professional’s 4K video.

But the price tag is a lot easier on your wallet, selling for $799.

“Based on the remarkable success of the DJI Phantom 3 Professional and Phantom 3 Advanced, we wanted to create a new drone that addresses people who are curious about aerial imaging, but not quite ready to commit to a more professional system,” said Frank Wang, DJI’s CEO and Founder. “The Phantom 3 Standard makes it easy to get into the air to take great photos and videos.”

Some specs for the Standard:

  • 2.7k HD video at 30 frames per second using a 94 degree distortion-free lens
  • Shoots still images at 12 megapixels in both DNG Raw and JPG formats.
  • Using a standard WiFi connection, allows pilots to see what their camera sees in near real time in HD, capture photos, start / stop record for video and adjust camera settings all from the DJI Go app.
  • Follow Me – The drone intelligently follows the user based on their orientation.
  • Waypoint Navigation – Allows users to set a multi-point route that the Phantom 3 flies automatically while leaving camera control (pan and tilt) to the user. 
  • Point of Interest – Lets users define an object that the Phantom will fly around in a circle with the object framed in the center

Here’s DJI’s promo video.