How to Find a Good Drone Pilot

The unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) commonly known as drones, are getting popular these days for their inspection capabilities. Yet there is much more potential to these devices. It all depends on the control of the drone pilot to determine the use of these vehicles. A good and responsible pilot can put it to advantage and provide amazing solutions to problems, while an irresponsible pilot can create problems in various ways.

The right use of drones can be handy in improving the quality of life for individuals and exploring the various applications of these vehicles can help discover more ways to make life easier. If you are thinking of hiring a drone pilot for a business event or personal use then this article will help you find the right one.

To start with, let’s be clear that each use has its own specific requirements. Whether you are planning to use drones for cell tower inspection, wedding photography or you wish to cover a business or sports event, finding an experienced and skilled pilot is the key to a successful project.

For Wedding Photography
If you are seeking a good drone pilot to take aerial wedding images then please bear in mind that not all photographers are capable of taking images using a drone. So, if you are focused on getting drone photography done for your special wedding moments, ask your service provider whether or not he is comfortable with that or else you may look for a professional aerial photographer experienced in using drones.

Before you hire, always check past work and if possible talk to a few past clients of the photographer to learn about their experience. A good drone pilot can make your day while an inexperienced one can spoil it, so being careful is the key!

For Business Events
The use of drones to cover business events is a rage these days and recently we heard about drones being used in fashion week in Paris. A lot of prestige and brand value is associated with the business events, so finding a good drone pilot to cover the event is of paramount importance. Taking photos and videos of a business event indoors is not the same as outdoor photography using drones so before you hire a pilot always discuss your requirements clearly and if possible take a demonstration to see for yourself how skilled the drone pilot is at his job.

For Sports Events
Sports coverage using drones is a complete different ball game altogether because the action looks spectacular when shot aerially. Again, the drone pilot should be highly experienced and he must have covered a few similar events in the past so that he knows the dos and don’ts of the game. When flying vehicle, the drone pilot should be careful to not distract the players and also not accidently hit anyone from the audience.

Only an experienced and highly skilled drone pilot can confidently take aerial photos and videos of events when there’s a large crowd of spectators present. Hence, while short listing and finalizing a pilot, it is important to always check the pilot’s past work and years of experience.

3 Major Changes that Revolutionized the Cell Tower Industry

Cell phones have become so common, and at the same time so mandatory for every individual today, that it’s impossible to imagine life without it. The smartphone is no more just a device used to communicate, but it is also where you store your precious online images, videos, and business files. It is your best entertainment option as you can play your favorite game wherever you like and what’s more, it’s like carrying your entire world right in your pocket. To ensure that your cell phones are always working well, the cell towers have to be maintained and upgraded from time to time. The cell tower business has recently undergone some major changes and in this article we will discuss the 3 main ones.

Few Companies Operate Most of the Towers
As per the data by SNL Kagan, there are approximately 150,000 wireless towers in the US alone and near about 100,000 of those belong to the top five companies namely – Crown Castle, American Tower, U.S. Cellular, SBA Communication and Vertical Bridge.

The most impactful change recently was the exit of AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless, the company which owned several towers in the country. AT&T sealed the deal for towers with Crown Castle; while Verizon Wireless gave them to the American Tower. The other small tower owners have also been selling their property to other companies and as a result Vertical Bridge is now leading the market.

More Efficient Management of Contractors
Cell phones have gone ‘smart’ and they offer a plethora of services to the users that were simply unimaginable a decade ago. With growing competition, there’s a pressure in the market to bring improved and better services to the new markets and this makes operators lay more emphasis on the wireless infrastructure and those who organize them. With rising concern for safety, the tower owners are now pressed to seek contractors that are qualified and more responsible.

According to Jeffrey Stoops, the CEO of SBA Communications, the company pays a lot of attention on the contractors hired to work on site. The reason behind this is to improve the services, identify the problems at the earliest and provide quick and reliable solutions.

High Level of Standardized Training
The intervention by the federal government has improved the workforce training and this has become possible mainly due to the efforts of industry union PCIA – The Wireless Infrastructure Association. According to PCIA, the government pays attention to training because every industry today uses broadband, and thus it has a crucial role in the economic development of the country.

Till date, the Department of Labor has sanctioned as much as $5.7 million for the purpose of wireless training programs, and $750,000 alone has gone into developing curricula with the help of experts from prestigious institutes such as Texas A&M University, Virginia State University, and South Carolina’s Aiken Technical College. The federal government believes that frequent standardized training will help improve services offered by the cell industry, and help build a better nation.

The Key to a Good Tower Inspection

Regular cell and radio tower maintenance is of paramount importance and neglecting it can result in serious consequences and a lot of expense later on. Particularly the towers that are situated in the hurricane-prone areas should be inspected at least once a year for any loose hardware, and to ensure that the transmission line attachments are fixed securely. With annual tower maintenance, you can not only increase the life span of the structures but also optimize the financial investment put into the system.

Visual Inspection of the Tower from the Ground
As mentioned above, the tower should be inspected yearly for any defects so that any problem is fixed before it gets out of control. A detailed and in-depth study of the current condition of the structure will include several hundred points that must be taken care of on a regular basis.

To begin with, a tower crewman will first inspect the tower from the ground level to see any obvious repair needs before he climbs the structure. When he starts climbing, he will inspect the structure on each step and take note. A careful visual inspection from the ground will also help protect the crew members from any unsafe conditions.

Most of the deformations or damages in the structure can be spotted from the ground itself while doing a tower inspection. If there are any rusty pins jutting out, badly faded paint or loose wires, this indicate that the tower has not been maintained properly in the past and the crew members should climb with caution.

What Follows the Visual Tower Inspection?
After the visual tower inspection is completed, the next step will include documentation of what has been noticed, recording the height and any signs of potential defects, along with photographs. This information will enable the maintenance company to address the issues at the earliest in the best way possible, and avoid any such damages in the future.

When the crew members climb the tower, the inspection at the height will include assessment of the tension arms, point shackles, tower legs, platforms, nuts and bolts, and so on. While on the tower, the assessor will also take into account the condition of the galvanization or white paint and aviation orange.

Once the galvanization is done it usually lasts a lifetime and the structure will only require a few minor repairs that may have been caused during the tower delivery and stacking. A good paint on the structure will last for about five to eight years. However maintenance of the paint is important to increase the lifespan of the tower.

Use of Drones in Tower Inspections
These days, unmanned aerial vehicles also known as drones are increasingly being used for tower inspection as it saves the risk of people climbing on the structure. A good drone pilot can help fetch clear pictures of the tower from the top so that a proper evaluation of any damage is done without having to climb the entire tower. Thus, aerial photography not only makes it easier to take pictures of the tower frequently, but it also reduces the risk of crewmen getting hurt.

5 Unexpected and Surprising Uses of Drones

Drones have gathered a lot of buzz for being in the news every now and then. And although this technology is not new, its commercial use has become popular recently. You might have heard about the use of drones or the unmanned aerial vehicles in wars, or their use to create those Hollywood like video clips featuring aerial photography and videography. In this article we will discuss about the 5 amazing uses of drones that will take you by surprise.

Agriculture Industry
The farms can span acres and acres of land, making it practically impossible to keep a check on the entire farmland. Furthermore, monitoring cattle for the farm and inspecting damages in water pipes, etc., can be costly and time consuming. Also the inability to identify the damages at an early stage can result in increased expenses.

With the use of drones, these extra expenses can be minimized and a good drone pilot will be able to take clear images of the entire farmland from several feet above the ground using the aerial camera attached to drones. Thus anything that requires immediate attention can be dealt with at the earliest possible stage. Drone farming is on the rise and experts believe that the agriculture industry will benefit in several ways with the help of this technology.

Search and Rescue Operations
Drones can reach where people or other aerial vehicles like helicopters and jets cannot. As a result they are really useful for search and rescue operations in unfavorable conditions. There is a dedicated search and rescue group that uses their personal unmanned aerial vehicles to search for people and their belongings. The enthusiastic drone pilots and hobbyists can come together to form such an association to assist people in their local area when needed.

Wildlife Conservation
The American government already uses drones to preserve and protect its lands and species. The United States Geological Service uses the unmanned aerial vehicles to keep a check on wildlife population and for the land management purposes. The drones can be used to track down animals, locate the nesting spots for rare-to-find species, and take stunning wildlife pictures in areas that are difficult for humans to reach.

Disaster Relief
Natural disasters like earthquakes, thunderstorms and flooding can create havoc over an entire town or city, and sometimes the after effects are so bad that it become difficult for disaster relief agencies to reach out to those in desperate need. Drones are like boons for people in need during natural calamities and the humanitarian agencies can send supplies using the aerial vehicles even to the most difficult to reach areas.

Delivering Pizza / Remote Delivery
Pizza delivery boys face several obstacles on their way to delivering pizzas to you, which results in delays. But now the company has thought of a new and interesting way to deliver pizza within minutes to addresses within 4 miles using its ‘Domicopter’. Yet to be launched, Domicopter is a UAV will be used by Dominos to deliver pizzas quickly and it will be controlled by a drone pilot. There’s also news about Amazon planning to embrace the technology to deliver presents and parcels within an hour.

Shoot a Sports Video the Right Way

Sports and videography makes an awesome combination, and a professional videographer knows exactly how to capture those tricky special moments that will make the audience roar, sigh or make their hearts skip a beat. No wonder a professional sports videographer will be equipped with the latest gadgets and equipments than any casual shooter. However that does not mean that you cannot shoot a good video of your son’s first basketball game using that old camcorder.

As a beginner you need to know that there are a few rules of sports videography that remains the same whether you are shooting a basketball, football, soccer or baseball game. Listed below are a few tips to ensure your video is perfect!

Capture the Highlights
Highlights are most important for any sports. Many times TV viewers just want to catch the highlights of the game because they are unable to watch the entire game. So, the three pointers, home runs, and sacked quarterbacks shots are of utmost importance. This means that you need to keep the camera rolling to capture each moment so that the best ones don’t get missed. You can shut the camera briefly between games when the players are relaxing, taking a break and preparing for next game. When you wear the editor’s cap, select the most interesting parts of the game to get the highlights.

Be Early and Grab the Best Shooting Locations
Shooting locations can greatly impact your overall videography so it would make sense that you visit the venue a little early before the game starts and grab the most favorable shooting location. To be on the safer side, talk to someone in-charge who knows where main points of the field – where the players will enter from, where the cheerleaders will stand, where the sports band will be playing for special events and so on.

Staying Safe is Important
While you may want to get clear and crisp shots of the game, we recommend that you don’t go too close to the sidelines to avoid the video camera being knocked down by the enthusiastic players. Also, always use both eyes while shooting as the action may look far away in the eye piece than it actually is. So, keep an eye on the game while you are shooting the event.

Including a Few Cutaways
It pays to give the audience a visual break from the sporting event in between. So whether you are planning to edit or shoot in-camera, make sure to get several cutaway shots to make your coverage more appealing to the viewers. One of the biggest drawbacks of shooting a sports video is that it makes the audience feel that they are watching the same thing. Some of the good cutaways that you can include in your video are shots of cute babies, amusing fans, signs, scoreboard and coaches. A good videographer will perfectly capture that anxiety and stress on the face of fans. Including shots of the scoreboard in between is also a great idea as it tells the present score, innings and so on.

What Makes UAVs So Useful for Tower Inspection?

The unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, have recently received the ‘green signal’ from the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA to be used for tower inspection services. Although these aerial vehicles have been under scrutiny and have earned negative reputation lately for being used for tracking down terrorists and they were also in the news for invading the White House airspace. However, despite all these charges against it the use of the drone has been revolutionizing the industry of cell tower inspections.

Recently the FAA allowed several companies to carry out the safety inspections and asset audits of their utility infrastructure firms with the help of UAVs. In order to do this, still as well as infrared cameras along with other equipments are attached to a drone which is then allowed to fly around the cell tower. An experienced drone pilot is required to fly the unmanned aerial vehicle in such a way that high quality pictures and videos can be taken from different angles.

These photos and videos will come handy for asset audits, interference identification, tower inspection, RF microwave path validation, safety assessments and so on. The use of UAVs in this industry will help increase the network performance for carriers, and offer specific tower audits for the tower companies. The use of this technology has been welcomed enthusiastically by tower owners, and the reasons are obvious – the inspection done using drones is dynamic and advanced.

Furthermore, the towers are assets for their owners, and they always need to be maintained and reworked to keep in the best possible condition. When new technologies are used, the towers need to be inspected and documented in order to verify the existing equipment inventories and configurations. The use of UAVs is highly important after installation as they tell the owner whether or not the antennas are mounted properly and if there’s something that needs immediate attention.

The traditional ways of tower inspection are fast giving away to the more sophisticated and advanced methods. In the past the asset managers used to visit the tower site quarterly and visually inspect the structure with the help of a pair of binoculars; and once a year crewmen would climb up the tower to document the condition of the structure and take a note of the damages.

With the UAVs being able to take photos of the structures so precisely, there is no more the need for people climbing to the top of the tower for inspection of damages, which is a very risky and expensive procedure. The use of high end UAVs can make life much easier, cheaper and far more efficient than before, and more than anything else they are also saving lives. As per the stats, in 2013 alone about 13 workers lost their lives during tower inspection. The use of UAVs has completely eliminated the need for people climbing up the structure for assessment.

With drones, the tower inspection can be carried out more frequently and aerial photos and videos of the structure can provide accurate detail regarding the condition and need of repair damage, if any.

5 UAV Applications that Promise to Change the World

Although the use of UAVs or unmanned aerial vehicles are still limited today, it does not take a genius to predict that we are fast approaching a world where pizza and parcel delivery boys will be replaced by delivery drones. These vehicles will be used in farms for surveillance. These amazingly lightweight and small aerial devices will not remain a passion for hobbyists, but they will find serious commercial applications that will save money, time and lives too. In this article we have listed 5 UAV applications that promise to change the world and make UAV pilots one of the most sought after professions.

#1 Oil & Gas
The oil and gas companies have to frequently carry out inspection services for oilrigs, which takes a lot of time and money. The use of drones can greatly minimize the number of days required and get three week’s work done in three days or less. Also a team of five people including an experienced UAV pilot would just be enough to get the job done. The use of drones can greatly reduce the inspection prices by 90% to 95% and lives of people will also be saved as sending people to inspect the risk prone areas is dangerous. This will thus improve the workplace safety and help avoid any mishaps like oil spills, etc.

#5 Sending Relief Aids to Disaster-struck Sites
Recently when a massive earthquake hit Nepal, the disaster relief agencies started using drones to provide supplies to areas that were otherwise difficult to reach. These unmanned aerial aircrafts are the most powerful new technologies that can speed up the disaster and relief operations. The drones can be used to provide enhanced situational awareness, detailed analysis of damaged infrastructure, locate any survivors amidst debris, extinguish fire quickly, evacuate casualties without delay and deliver equipments and supplies.

Water Pollution Alert
We know that water covers about seventy percent of the entire earth’s surface and the increased pollution level has put both humans and animals at great risk due to contaminated and dirty water. The Senseable City Lab at MIT has developed a drone that is capable of collecting water samples from different water sources and examining its pollution level. These drones are capable of detecting the contaminants on the spot and finding out whether a lake or pond is healthy to use.

Examining the Large Solar Farms
These days, large sized solar farms are on the rise as they are the most natural and cost effective way to create energy and save money on electricity bills. When there is a large solar farm, inspecting each one to identify any damage or flaws can be a cumbersome task. Furthermore all panels look the same so it is time consuming to manually check each one. Drones can be used to find out which solar panel has burned out or which one needs repair work through thermal imaging.

Dealing with Agricultural Issues
The use of drones in farmlands can help deal with the various agricultural issues such as keeping a close watch on the irrigation pipe lines, water quality, disease management, crop quality, etc. It can also help collect aerial crop data that is useful in determining when the crop needs extra care or when it is ready for harvest. Besides optimizing the crop performance, an experienced UAV pilot can help collect data that offers other benefits such as plant counting, weed scouting, monitoring crop health, yield forecasts and so on.

Aerial Videos on your Wedding Day

So, finally you have decided to put that ring on her finger and seal the deal…congratulations for finding your perfect life partner and now all focus must be on planning the big day. For any couple out there, planning a wedding is one of the most daunting and overwhelming tasks. You want everything to turn out to be just perfect for that special day of your life, and this can be put a lot of stress on you. No wonder wedding is a wonderful experience and to make the planning part less stressful let’s take the guesswork out of choosing a wedding videographer and capturing your wedding with an aerial video.
A well shot wedding video will cover every little detail of that special day, and although the day may slip by fast, the video will let you live and relive those special moments again and again. From the teary eyed parents and the excitement in your voice to the joy of bridesmaids and flower girls, all that can perfectly be treasured only in videos.

With a little knowledge and research work you will be able to find the right videographer for your wedding, so that you make the memories of this day top notch. Below are some tips to hiring the perfect professional for the job.

Look for the Services Available
Most of the photographers and videographers have their own website and you can take a look at the available services offered. Whether you are planning an intimate ceremony with family and close friends only or a lavish large scale wedding, choosing a video Dallas professional whose style meets your needs is of paramount importance. Also, the video needs of a traditional indoor wedding will be different from an outdoor one. If you wish to include aerial video shots to make your wedding memories more unique then check the services list and past work.

Meet the Videographer
Before hiring a videographer for one of the most special days in your life, it is important that you meet the videographer in person and discuss what you really want your wedding video to look like. Whether you want the complete uncut version of the event or you wish to have just a few special moments documented creatively, all that needs to be clearly discussed with the professional beforehand. Some of the videographers will also include the pre-wedding preparations in their video to make it more memorable.

Take a look at the online portfolio of the professional or if you are visiting the studio then tell him to show some past work. Please remember to consider the technical abilities and reputation of the videographer before hiring him.

Planning is Important
If you are planning to have a unique outdoor wedding or include aerial photography and video shots then be sure that the videographer you choose has the right skills and capability to handle a requirement like that. Make it a point to visit the venue with the professional at least once before the main day and rehearse where the key people will be standing and how the shots should be taken.

What You Must Look Into Before Using a Drone

Drone photography is abuzz these days and although reviewers are still arguing about its advantages and disadvantages, and which side is heavier, it can be said without doubt that this technology is absolutely enchanting. Both professional photographers and hobbyist love to explore this relatively new technology to take stunning aerial shots. As more people wish to try their hand at aerial photography made possible by these remotely controlled aircrafts, drones are growing in popularity around the world.

The biggest reasons behind this popularity are the Hollywood-like stunning footages that can be captured easily using low costing drones. Today these devices are on high demand for taking aerial videos or photos of a wedding or business event, or to check the progress made in construction sites.

Although low end drones are now available from a starting price of $40 only, the high end ones provide the best results and they are best for special events that need to be captured professionally. The medium to high end drones can be as expensive as $750 and more. To meet the rising demand for drones, several companies have started offering high end drones for rent! Before you rent a drone from a local company in your area, here are 5 things to consider:

  1. Drone video and photography are completely dependent on the weather so before renting a drone, make sure you read the forecasts. In case there’s an unexpected rain or the weather gets windy, reschedule the shoot for another date and time. If it’s your wedding then there might not be any choice of rescheduling the shoot, but here you can play safe by choosing the right time of the day. Early mornings or just after the sunset are the best times for drone photography as the sunlight is not so harsh and wind is usually calm.
  2. Drone video and photography must be properly planned and discussed with the pilot before going ahead with the shoot. If you are considering using a drone for your event because you liked someone else’s aerial footage then think what you really liked about it and make sure you discuss it with the pilot.
  3. Always be on the safe side while shooting videos and photos, and the best tools to use are Google Street View and Google Maps. This makes it easy for the photographers to explore the location before let the drone soar high to capture the shots. Please remember the general rules of flying drones – you are not allowed to fly over crowded areas or other’s person’s property without permission.
  4. The footage captured by a drone will be raw and they will rarely stand up to your expectations of Hollywood style caliber so we recommend that you invest in some post production work. The investment will be worth it as editing will give you stunning footages, just like you expected. With the right skill, editors can reduce vibration, make sky bluer, grass greener and so on.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for a reshoot if you are not fully satisfied with the results. If you do not have any investment and flexibility issues then asking for a reshoot is always a great idea until you achieve what you actually want.

5 Tips and Safety Parameters for Drone Aerial Photography

Drone photography is a relatively new way of taking pictures. Take any movie scene where they show stunning vistas of mountains and other breathtaking wide-sweeping landscape – these days most of that is achieve with the help of drone photography. Drone, also called as the remote-controlled aerial vehicle along with camera equipment, can help you capture amazing aerial shots. All you need is time and a lot of practice.

Although this technology has been used in the military for quite some time it has been made available for consumer use recently. However as they always say, with power comes responsibility. Drones give you the power to take amazing shots from the air and these devices can be easily used to spy on people, hence it is important to use them in a responsible manner. In this article, we will share with a few tips, and safety parameters for aerial photography.

  1. For the best aerial shots, always use shorter lens or else the wind will blow your camera around. You should also choose the fastest lens if it is not a drone with inbuilt camera. A professional f/2.9 zoom camera lens should be just right. Fixed focal length lenses are also perfect and the shutter speed should be about 1 per 1,000 sec at 200 mm to get sharp and crisp footages.
  2. To capture some objects you might need a camera with long lens such as a f/2.8 zoom. If you are facing problems shooting due to haze then set the camera to high contrast for sharp images. If you wish to get a black and white video then use a red filter for better shots. The UV and Haze filters are not the best thing to rely on for drone photography as they don’t tend to work as expected.
  3. To achieve good images using drone photography, you need to practice, practice and more practice. Just like it requires a lot of training for pilots to fly an airplane, you will also need training to be able to fly drones with confidence. It requires a lot of patience and perseverance to be able to achieve that expertise in steering and taking perfect aerial shots.
  4. The low and medium-end drones cannot operate in high altitudes so it is important for you to analyze the environment and the capacity of the device before you attempt to fly the equipment.
  5. While flying drones (particularly when learning how to fly) you should always remember the safety rules. Both seasoned professionals and beginners should keep in mind what they can hit if the drone crashes. So, avoid flying drones over crowded areas unless you have a lot of experience and you are confident about your experience maneuvering the drone. Also avoid areas where the drone can collide with manned aircraft or high altitudes or where it can be affected by unfavorable weather.

As a beginner always keep safety first when using a drone for aerial photography. Just like it is exciting to use, it can be risky as well as cause unwanted damages. So, be a responsible user and enjoy the fun ride!