I love it when a plan comes together!

Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith, A-Team.

Before any commercial shoot, be it film, aerial or photography, you MUST have a plan, you really must.

Without a plan, expect delays, missed shots, wasted time and possibly some tears. Without a plan, you may end up having to pay more to fix this too.

What is a plan?

When it comes to filming or photography, your plan can be something as simple as a hand written list of shots you MUST have as well as some GOOD TO HAVE backup shots. The shot gets taken, then scored off the list, this way, we don’t miss anything vital and it allows you to stay on track, especially if there are time constraints.

The more complex the shoot, often the more complex the plan. The handwritten scribbled note becomes a printed list or better still becomes a storyboard.

A storyboard you say?

When planning a film shoot, it’s better to have something that visually represents the concept, there can be a narrative attached to a photo or hand drawn idea – something to give direction to the camera operator. This method allows filming and editing to be streamlined and the end result is a visualisation realised, a film which meets the needs and requirements of the client. Do that and you not only have a brilliant end product, but you have a happy client. It’s a win win situation.

Without the storyboard you end up over shooting in the hope that you’ve captured everything but sod’s law? You miss that one shot, the one the client had in their head and you either, hold your hand up and admit it or you go back out and reshoot.  Neither option bodes well for your relationship with the client.

Aerial Work requires planning.

When it comes to aerial filming or photography, not only do you have to plan the shots you want to capture but you have to do a Risk Assessment, Pre-Site Survey and on the day, an On-Site Survey.  More planning but very necessary, to ensure you mitigate risk as much as possible and that you are able to safely perform the duties as Remote Pilot/Aerial Filmmaker.

The Risk Assessment is pretty self explanatory and is completed prior to flying however a Pre-Site Survey requires some homework. Essentially you are creating a dossier of the surrounding area, a map/layout from Google Maps, as well as noting the ideal location for take-off/landing, an emergency landing zone, areas of public encroachment, co-ordinates, emergency contact details, relevant permissions, latest weather forecasts (wind, precipitation, temperature, cloud levels etc). It may involve a visit in person to assess the location for any dangers: overhead power cables, roads, buildings, nearby air traffic, vehicles, the list goes on. An On-Site Survey is confirmation of the Pre-Site Survey points as well as anything new which may have changed since the Pre-Site Survey was completed.

This all sounds like a lot of admin but it’s worth it, do it right and should anything go wrong, you can provide evidence that you followed all procedures and protocols. Protect yourself, protect your drone and protect the shoot.

If anything causes doubt, even the least wee thing, abandon flying. At the end of the day, it will all be your responsibility so don’t risk it, regardless of any third party pressure.


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