Heavy Lift UAV’S – What’s it all about?

As Unmanned Aerial Vehicle technology has advanced throughout the years, technicians have focused recent research projects on drones that use multirotor technology as opposed to fixed wing systems, due to their versatility and potential to be highly useful in a large number of applications. By changing the speed of the propellers, users can easily control the roll, pitch and acceleration of the vehicle along the common orientation. Due to the way they are engineered quadcopters and their stronger counterpart octocopters, also have a huge athletic capability and are able to carry payloads that are much heavier than their total mass. As research develops the extent of the loads that the machines are able to successfully fly with is ever on the increase which opens doors for use in many industrial applications.

For uses in cinematography, the advantages of this technological breakthrough are vast. Lightweight HD cameras such as the GoPro or RunCam have been developed to fit onto any drone without limiting its ability to fly. Whilst these are great for home videos or smaller scale filming, for larger scale cinematography these photography systems are not of a high enough standard to create the award winning shots that director’s desire.

Film studios can rejoice at the news that the mechanics of multirotor drones can now take to the air with gold-standard industry level camera brands such as the ARRI Alexa Mini and the RED Epic camera model, with many specialised Heavy Lift UAVS used for filming being able to carry camera systems of around 5kg. Now, a photographer’s vision is not limited by the equipment at hand, as a drone can be loaded up with camera systems of the same capability as those used at ground level. South African director Neill Blomkamp embraced the use of drones in the critically acclaimed ‘Chappie’ not only for filming, but as markers for the actors to look at when interacting with robotic characters that would be added in during post production. The Expendables 3 and James Bond - Skyfall also used the versatile yet high quality camera systems to great effect.

For any pilot or photographer wanting to utilise the incredible breakthrough in technology, it should be noted that a licence (or more accurately a Permission) is required before being able to legally fly a drone for commercial purposes, with specific certificates and permissions needed for the use of heavier vehicles. Enrolling on a CAA approved course can help to answer any questions you may have about the uses and legislations regarding the use of drones as well as giving you the skills and training required to operate a UAV with the precision needed to make every shot breath-taking.