Now we can Drone.
We’ve been busy! RescueStation can now fly drones powerful enough to provide aerial 360 video. Here’s an example:
Drag the view around: you can look in different directions.
Use the play button, on the bottom left to start and pause.
The ‘VR’ button switches to full screen. It’s compatible with Google Cardboard.
The video shows Pendle Hill, situated on the southern edge of the Yorkshire dales and in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Just To the left, you’ll find the village of Barley. In the foreground, you’ll find the first of the Black Moss reservoirs, which provide drinking water to the town of Nelson, behind you.
Look up! There’s our drone. We can paint this out in post-processing, but we just like the lovely orange props.
Here’s where we flew:
For editing, we’re using NCH Video Pad.
The drone and 360 camera together weigh nearly a kilogram – that’s a dangerous combination. Drones can fly at 40 mph and it’s important to understand the incredible risk you take with what is essentially a flying brick.
There are now some pretty tight regulations for flying drones of this sort and, to prove you know them, there’s a qualification to be had from the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) – the ‘A2 C of C’. That’s a Certificate of Competency. It’s also the gateway to being insured.
To get it, you need to be able to practice flying. In the UK, that means getting a Flyer ID and an Operator ID, first. Once that’s done it’s off to the middle of nowhere, to get enough flying hours and experience in to qualify for the theory course and final exam.
This last stage is organised by one of the many CAA Recognised Assessment Entities – we did ours with Coptrz. The online course was free and the invigilated exam – again, online – was £65. The whole process took around a month from getting the drone to feeling confident of providing a decent service.
The Certificate of Competency gives us the ability to fly anywhere we can guarantee there will be no ‘uninvolved persons’ within 50m of the flight, and within the restrictions imposed by the CAA concerning airports and restricted areas. Since we operate a camera, there are also privacy considerations.
In practice, it means checking the area we’re going to fly first, figuring out a detailed plan, and then restricting movement of people in and out of the area of flight on the day. We use volunteers supplied by our clients to keep costs low, and we supply them with a briefing, fluorescent vests and walkie-talkies, so we can abort a flight quickly if needed.
And then there’s the weather.
If it’s relatively still and slightly over cast: brilliant! We can drone happily for 3 15 minute flights, which is enough for most applications. Wind gusting over 25 mph? Rain? Strong sun? Nope. But that’s pretty standard for any drone flight – bar the super-hero stuff you see on film-sets and out inspecting refinery chimneys.
The Mavic provides a rock-solid platform for its on-board 4K camera – supporting both video and stills. That means guided inspection work and surveying is possible.
Couple this with the GPS navigation and automated flight plan software, the drone can follow a predefined path, many times over. This brings time-lapse movies over the course of months or years within reach.
Adding the 360 camera gives the most amazing immersive experience. In tests, we have even used a 4G connection to provide live streaming.
Always up for a chat. Get in contact, and tell us about your ideas.