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    Buy a drone or not?

    I'm considering buying a drone for the first time, but I'm not sure how much use I'm going to get out of it. I live in NYC and there are only a handful of parks that allow you to fly a drone within the 5 boroughs. On the other hand I do a good deal of shooting on Long Island (a suburb of NYC) where there are less restrictions. I don't do much corporate or real estate work, etc. Just documentaries at this point...

    Thinking back on my last few docs I could have used a drone a few times (mostly to establish the documentary's location). I was thinking of the Mavic Air 2:https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...BoCoYYQAvD_BwE

    Are the filmmakers out there that own drones gathering dust or are they using them often? Thoughts?

    Thanks

    #2
    Sometimes 2-3 drone shots in a nice project is worth the entire investment for something as cheap as above because of how impressed clients become. If executed well, you could leave a good impression on them which is obviously good for business.

    If nothing else, you could probably get some cool stock footage at RM or Jones Beach.

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      #3
      I bought a mavic mini recently and been getting up to speed on that. It's not as feature rich as the Mavic pro 2 but I'm impressed with the footage so far for real estate use. latest firmware allows setting white balance and I think it can lock exposure setting. The Mavic pro 2 has an obstacle avoidance feature that the mini doesn't have. That could come in very handy around buildings.

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        #4
        They're not that expensive (depending on the model) and are a good bit of kit to have.

        On the other hand, most decent models are made in China, and due to political developments it may soon become very difficult to get dependable support (not that it's very easy to begin with... my Mavic Air developed sudden violent left turns, and I cannot get them to respond to my submitted ticket for the life of me).
        Pudgy bearded camera guy
        http://mcbob.tv

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          #5
          Originally posted by scorsesefan View Post
          I'm considering buying a drone for the first time, but I'm not sure how much use I'm going to get out of it. I live in NYC and there are only a handful of parks that allow you to fly a drone within the 5 boroughs. On the other hand I do a good deal of shooting on Long Island (a suburb of NYC) where there are less restrictions. I don't do much corporate or real estate work, etc. Just documentaries at this point...

          Thinking back on my last few docs I could have used a drone a few times (mostly to establish the documentary's location). I was thinking of the Mavic Air 2:https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...BoCoYYQAvD_BwE

          Are the filmmakers out there that own drones gathering dust or are they using them often? Thoughts?

          Thanks
          Could you have legally flown a drone for your last few documentaries?

          At the prosumer level, it sounds like owning a drone in NYC sucks. Dedicated drone specialists with clearance to fly, NYC is one of the best places on earth (I love those shots with a long lens looking straight down as it passes over the apex of a building, as seen in many trailers).

          I'm finding it a tough sell to buy given your location, infrequent use (this may change) and rental prices, which are surely next to nothing?

          Don't think for a second it will be a fun hobby. If you're under 95 years old you'll be bored before the end of your first flight. It's a tool just like a zoom lens. I'm sure some people find it relaxing, good for coordination, reasons to be outside etc. but that doesn't sound like a concern for you.

          I held off on drones for a long time but had a project where I planned to bring someone in with a phantom 4. The client had a phantom 3 and was wondering why we couldn't use their drone. I killed two birds with one stone - not needing to pay someone for a fairly cheap product and owning a better drone than the client paying me to make the video.

          If you do enough out of state filming where you'll be allowed to fly then it's a no brainer. Also, maybe opportunities will arise that otherwise wouldn't exist. As well as corporates, I've used a phantom 4 for long form news and collected footage for an artist that was shown in an exhibition, played on huge screens - cool experiences that happened because of the drone.
          robnortondp.com

          Comment


            #6
            @norbro have you shot at RM or Jones beach? I live right next to Forest Park and as far as I know drones are legal there... @Sneakle I was looking at the Mavic Mini but no 24p was a deal killer to me... Mcbob, Mavic doesn't have a US support center?

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by mcbob View Post
              They're not that expensive (depending on the model) and are a good bit of kit to have.

              On the other hand, most decent models are made in China, and due to political developments it may soon become very difficult to get dependable support (not that it's very easy to begin with... my Mavic Air developed sudden violent left turns, and I cannot get them to respond to my submitted ticket for the life of me).
              Our inspire 2 repair request was really fast but I can only imagine how poor the support would be for the mavic line. As well as valid requests, there would be countless beginners clogging up the system with completely avoidable questions. I'll probably get a mavic at some point but won't be surprised if there are issues. Sudden violent left turns doesn't sound good though!
              robnortondp.com

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by scorsesefan View Post
                @norbro have you shot at RM or Jones beach?
                Hundreds of times over the last 10 years (including Montauk, Hamptons, Gilgo, Long Beach, etc), but never with a drone and rarely ever in the summer because it's too crowded. Usually fall/winter/spring when it's pretty much empty for random camera tests.

                Depending on the beach, besides a fee you'll also need to live locally to enter.

                JB and RM are open for everyone and $10/day unless you have a summer pass.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Yeah, I've shot at RM and Jones. Not a drone though. I was born in Manhattan but move to Suffolk county when I was young and then moved back to Queens...

                  Comment


                    #10
                    When I first used a drone quite a few years back, think first phantom. Drones needed to be "flown". You really needed to get the flying skill part down first. I havent used drones for awhile simply because it's been easier to use a licensed pro for shooting commercial work. I flew a friends mavic 2 pro for a few minutes recently, and that thing is amazing. Let's you focus on the shots you want and the style rather than the pure flying part. Loved it.
                    w: Noel Evans TV

                    e: noel@noelevans.tv
                    p: +61 (0) 408 455 374

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by rob norton View Post
                      Could you have legally flown a drone for your last few documentaries?

                      At the prosumer level, it sounds like owning a drone in NYC sucks. Dedicated drone specialists with clearance to fly, NYC is one of the best places on earth (I love those shots with a long lens looking straight down as it passes over the apex of a building, as seen in many trailers).

                      I'm finding it a tough sell to buy given your location, infrequent use (this may change) and rental prices, which are surely next to nothing?

                      Don't think for a second it will be a fun hobby. If you're under 95 years old you'll be bored before the end of your first flight. It's a tool just like a zoom lens. I'm sure some people find it relaxing, good for coordination, reasons to be outside etc. but that doesn't sound like a concern for you.

                      I held off on drones for a long time but had a project where I planned to bring someone in with a phantom 4. The client had a phantom 3 and was wondering why we couldn't use their drone. I killed two birds with one stone - not needing to pay someone for a fairly cheap product and owning a better drone than the client paying me to make the video.

                      If you do enough out of state filming where you'll be allowed to fly then it's a no brainer. Also, maybe opportunities will arise that otherwise wouldn't exist. As well as corporates, I've used a phantom 4 for long form news and collected footage for an artist that was shown in an exhibition, played on huge screens - cool experiences that happened because of the drone.
                      LOL I'm under 95, Rob ;)... Yes, the few projects that I could have used a drone I could have done so legally. They were not out of state but in different regions of the state where drone use is allowed... It would be nice if the Mavic Mini shot 24fps. A $400 drone gathering dust is less painful than an $800 one...

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by scorsesefan View Post
                        It would be nice if the Mavic Mini shot 24fps.
                        FWIW: Many productions/projects/individuals include 30p and 60p on a 24p timeline (in real-time).

                        Totally understand if it's the technical logistics aspect you're concerned about (such as the requirements of handing off your drone footage to the people whom are paying you for a certain specification), but visually...seriously, not many would notice a difference (especially with 30p) in the few shots that made the cut.

                        And ESPECIALLY slowed down.

                        IMO, 30p at 80% has a real-time feel but looks pretty dreamy.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I'm really looking forward to a Mavic Pro or similar getting ProRes or some legit high quality recording codec. Perhaps that's when I would enter the drone market and get one. The Inspire 2 is too much money and size for a regular DP to get if they're not planning to spend a lot of time learning and doing dedicated drone work, and the Mavic Pro's image is looking pretty good, but perhaps not quite there yet.
                          Last edited by Eric Coughlin; 06-01-2020, 09:27 PM.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by scorsesefan View Post
                            LOL I'm under 95, Rob ;)... Yes, the few projects that I could have used a drone I could have done so legally. They were not out of state but in different regions of the state where drone use is allowed... It would be nice if the Mavic Mini shot 24fps. A $400 drone gathering dust is less painful than an $800 one...
                            Hah yeah I just meant if you were partly buying to have fun on the side you might be let down. I know non-film people who get sparks etc. thinking they'll use them regularly but never do.

                            IDK who pays for you to shoot documentaries but you could pitch a drone heavy shoot e.g. location as a character or someone running a remote marathon, unique use of aerials etc, whch can pay for your mavic air 2.
                            robnortondp.com

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I actually do own a drone if you're under 95 and are just looking for cheap ($20) fun. Can be flown around the house and is actually rather fun to play with, though like many toys loses its flavor after awhile.





                              https://www.walmart.com/ip/Vigilanti-Heli/306060372

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