A well captured and well placed aerial shot can add so much to a wedding film. I’ve had a blast doing Whidbey Island drone videography since we moved here. From cliffs overlooking the water to Deception Pass to Langley wedding venues like the Wayfarer, there’s just such a huge variety of landscapes that look so great from the air.
As some have snarkily pointed out, this trend has a reputation for being overdone now that high quality cinema drones are more affordable than they used to be, but there’s no denying the power and beauty of a sweeping aerial shot of an amazing location. Just like any filmmaking technique/tool there are times when it enhances the story and times when it would take away from it. But enough philosophizing 🙂
Since drones have become so affordable over the last few years, the FAA has been scrambling to get the laws and regulations caught up with the technology. You’ve probably seen the stories of crazies breaking the rules with drones and making the rest of us look bad. If you’re a “hobbyist” there aren’t any safety or competency tests or requirements to operate a drone (which is a little scary, but that’s a rant for a different day. )
In order to legally fly drones as a professional filmmaker, the FAA requires the filmmaker to pass a pilot’s exam that must be renewed every 2 years. I personally know of filmmakers who say they are just hobbyists *wink, wink* to avoid the expense and hassle of getting licensed, but I definitely wasn’t comfortable with going that route. I consider it a privilege to own a production company with high standards of excellence across the board, so as soon as the FAA made the test available to the public I signed up to take the pilot’s exam.
I graduated from college 10 years ago so it’s been quite a while since I studied this hard, but it was totally worth it. Have you ever seen an aeronautical map? I hadn’t either, but after spending about 50 hours studying them I have a lot more respect for pilots. This stuff is no joke. I learned a ton about flying safely and maximizing the time I spend filming aerials. What this means to you practically as the bride and groom is that for each wedding flight I go through a careful checklist and purchase customized insurance specific to that location and flight time. I never fly over people or during the ceremony or key events. Just like everything else I do on the wedding day, I like to keep it simple and not be a distraction.
So a word of caution if you’re a bride and groom hoping for drone shots at your wedding… make sure you hire a properly licensed and insured operator. There are just too many things that can go wrong if you hand this job over to a friend or family member who is inexperienced. Not to mention the footage likely won’t be as exceptional as it should be. And also a word of encouragement… aerial shots from your wedding day are truly priceless and can add so much to your film. Especially if you’re an outdoorsy kind of couple, I’d highly recommend letting us capture this unique perspective for you.