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Drone aerial footage business?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by JetFalcon, Dec 29, 2015.

  1. JetFalcon

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    Just wondering how easy it is for someone with a drone to offer aerial photography to businesses or people. Like maybe an event, wedding, real estate, etc. And how would you charge someone for aerial photage? Like do you charge by the time you spend or do you charge by the amount of video/pics you get?

    I'm just starting out so I'm learning how to fly my DJI Phantom 3 Standard first. Then once I feel I get the hang of it and figure how to record footage, how much memory I need, how to transfer them, then would wanna consider doing it as a side business. Nothing crazy serious, but something like an uber where it's not so complicated to get started. Plus I would rather get paid to fly a drone than drive around all day, plus the risk is much lower because the worst that can happens is I lose a $700 drone, which is much better than getting into a bad accident in a car.

    But can me with just a DJI Standard offer any kind of service, like something super cheap compared to those who may charge a premium to use the large professional drones with RED cameras on them? I am sure the Standard would be enough to have clear crisp footage that doesn't need a professional to operate. At least that way the drone can pay for itself. Wouldn't mind charging something dirt cheap like $30-50 for a few hours, or maybe trade. I may do it for free if it's a charity event and donate my time.

    I also have a friend who is a rising EDM artist and he does plenty of outdoor festival events with large crowds who show up to his sets. I would offer him drone footage of his sets if he would take me backstage, and it would be a fun experience to fly over a bunch of people. Not sure if an artist can just take a buddy with a drone or if I would have to go through event organizers to be allowed to fly the thing over a huge crowd like this:

     
    #1 JetFalcon, Dec 29, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2015
  2. LordEvil

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    Making money with your drone is illegal just an FYI. Keep it simple and no one has to know.
     
    SouthernPhantom likes this.
  3. JetFalcon

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    How is it illegal? Is there some kind of law that states drones footage can't be bartered?

    If Uber can be legal, dodging a bunch of taxi laws, I don't get why drones aren't allowed to make money.
     
  4. msinger

    Approved Vendor

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    Where are you located?
     
  5. JetFalcon

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    Orange County CA, or Irvine to be more exact.
     
  6. msinger

    Approved Vendor

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    You'll need to get a 333 exemption. See more details here.
     
  7. QuadcopterFL

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    OP's quote......" I would offer him drone footage of his sets if he would take me backstage, and it would be a fun experience to fly over a bunch of people. Not sure if an artist can just take a buddy with a drone or if I would have to go through event organizers to be allowed to fly the thing over a huge crowd like this."

    OH BOY !!!! PLEASE READ THE FAA GUIDELINES BELOW....
    If you get a 333 exemption, these are just a few of the things you will have to do,

    • Follow community-based safety guidelines, as developed by organizations such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA).
    • Fly no higher than 400 feet and remain below any surrounding obstacles when possible.
    • Keep your sUAS in eyesight at all times, and use an observer to assist if needed.
    • Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations, and you must see and avoid other aircraft and obstacles at all times.
    • Do not intentionally fly over unprotected persons or moving vehicles, and remain at least 25 feet away from individuals and vulnerable property.
    • Contact the airport or control tower before flying within five miles of an airport.
    • Fly no closer than two nautical miles from a heliport with a published instrument flight procedure.
    • Do not fly in adverse weather conditions such as in high winds or reduced visibility.
    • Do not fly under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
    • Ensure the operating environment is safe and that the operator is competent and proficient in the operation of the sUAS.
    • Do not fly near or over sensitive infrastructure or property such as power stations, water treatment facilities, correctional facilities, heavily traveled roadways, government facilities, etc.
    • Check and follow all local laws and ordinances before flying over private property.
    • Do not conduct surveillance or photograph persons in areas where there is an expectation of privacy without the individual’s permission (see AMA’s privacy policy).
     
    #7 QuadcopterFL, Dec 29, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2015
  8. JetFalcon

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    I mean I wouldn't try it anytime soon until I figure this thing out. But I've seen simple DJI drones at large music festival before, not those crazy big ones with cinema cameras mounted to them.

    Maybe will just do some simple vids he can post to his fans. I was wondering if a drone could carry a super light stuffed animal into the air. His mascot's a shark and had an idea to dangle a stuff shark to the drone and film it flying around. Would make for a funny 5 sec video on Instagram.
     
  9. MapMaker53

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    They are being flown ILLEGALLY over crowds. If you want to ILLEGALLY fly over people, be prepared for a very large fine from the FAA if caught doing that or a huge lawsuit for you and your concert friend when your Phantom suddenly has a problem and falls out of the air and injures someone. These aren't toys.
     
    SouthernPhantom likes this.
  10. SouthernPhantom

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    Agreeing with LordEvil -- it is illegal, per the FAA, to use your Phantom for any compensation or commercial activity -- unless you have a 333 exemption from the FAA and use a licensed pilot to fly it. This has already been supported in court. Your photos must be for personal hobby use only.

    His "keep it simple" comment is good advice. But, the minute you advertise or solicit business, you are asking for trouble.

    The good news is that, supposedly, the FAA will be changing some of these rigid rules during the next year or so.
     
  11. FASTFJR

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    Lots of people trying to do it, just look on Craigs List. 99% of the video I see is pure junk
     
  12. BigAl07

    BigAl07 Moderator
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    To be honest legal ramifications aside:
    $30 - $50 for a few hours work is insanely cheap. You're giving work away and diluting the business to say the least.

    Also what happens if you have an accident during one of these photo shoots and you cause damage to something or worse physical harm to someone? Gotta think worse case and be prepared for that. Think insurance.

    There's a lot goes into "Aerial Photography" more than snapping the pic and giving the media to the client. A business includes much more problems than solutions and it costs a lot more to "operate" than you'd imagine. Also keep in mind that you may have local and state laws/regulations to deal with in terms of business (licenses, certifications, etc). It gets expensive in a hurry.
     
    WetDog likes this.
  13. RVD98072

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    I think the loophole these days is that people don't charge for the aerial video / photography but they charge for the editing time only.
     
  14. WetDog

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    That specifically does not work. The FAA has pointed out that this 'loophole' has been explicitly closed. Not that the FAA is going to chase every P3 in the country or monitor every copy of iMovie. Your biggest risk is going to be personal injury. IF you hurt someone in the process of filming then all manner of unpleasant things can start to happen. THEN the FAA might sniff around and wop you on the head with another legal problem.

    Ain't worth it. Have fun.
     
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  15. WetDog

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    Those people running around with ANY drone over a group of people are highly irresponsible. Look around on this forum. Half the threads are 'Phantom crashed'. Not that these things don't fly reliably but that ANY aircraft has the ultimate desire to visit terra firma, sometimes more gracefully than others. You drop an P3 from 50 feet onto spectators and you are likely to cause a significant injury. If that drone is traced to you then you are on the hook for thousands of dollars of medical care (even if it's one visit to the ER). Then you are on the hook for violating bog-knows-what-ordenance that the local DA can whip up. And the FAA might snoop around to see if they can make an example of you.

    Read up on responsible use of a UAV and stay the hell away from stadiums.

    I think if people really want an aerial camera that can work over crowds, they should develop a little baby blimp (ala William Gibson's 'God's little toy' in Pattern Recognition). Something with a more benign failure mode than a quadcopter.
     
  16. RVD98072

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    i don't do that (and have no plans to do so). it's a poor loophole that seemingly doesn't work but that doesn't stop a lot of seemingly legitimate businesses from trying it anyway (e.g., Aerial Drone Video and Photograhy in Phoenix Arizona - click the pricing tab).
     
  17. stujol

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    Another thing to consider is unhappy customers who turn you in. And you have no legal recourse for collecting your fees. The FAA is serious about their fines. I want to make a little money from this hobby too but until I can do it legal I am going to wait. No insurance company is going to cover you when you are doing something illegal. I agree with Wetdog, It ain't worth it.
     
    BigAl07 likes this.
  18. WetDog

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    Oh yeah, lots of people trying to get into the Next Big Thing, especially as commercial photography is such a low margin, cut throat business for all but the very top end. And I really doubt that the FAA is going to be arsed to chase all of these people. You're more likely to get nailed by the IRS.

    The big risk is liability as I pointed out above. Drop the drone onto somebody and both of you are likely to be in a world of hurt.
     
    BigAl07 likes this.
  19. ianwood

    ianwood Taco Wrangler
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    That so called loophole is anything but. How you charge does not impact the nature of the flight. If you fly on someone else's behalf as a service, it is a commercial flight. And your competition will very gladly rat you out to the FAA.
     
  20. beeline

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    And check the spelling and grammar on that website. Almost as bad as those Nigerian "Dear beloved" money transfer scams.
     
    #20 beeline, Dec 29, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2015