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How Drones Could Shake Up the Entertainment Industry

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Drones have the potential to radically reshape the entertainment industry, especially when it comes to the types of films and TV shows that could be created. Drones are able to shoot footage from angles and heights that were previously impossible, and that’s leading to new storytelling formats, new special effects, new genres and the blurring of the line between professional and amateur filmmakers.

New storytelling formats

We’re used to thinking in terms of the same old genres when it comes to film and TV: comedies, dramas, and action flicks. But all that changes when you introduce drones into the creative equation. That’s because some of the best videography drones enable filmmakers to re-imagine storytelling by seeing things through a new dramatic point of view. You can introduce new energy into a shot by having a drone follow the character.

If you think about it, filmmaking today takes place from the vantage point of the director. The camera is essentially an extension of the director’s eyes. The camera shows the audience what the director sees, and how he sees it. But now, with drones, you’re able to explore the world in entirely new ways. Without any problem at all, you can shoot footage from high up in the mountains, or along a stunning coastal shoreline. Some directors have referred to this as “having a Steadicam at 200 feet up in the air.”

Consider an example from an ancillary but related industry – wedding videography. If you’ve ever seen any drone wedding footage, you can understand immediately how this new omniscient presence (the drone) changes the storytelling narrative. You get a much better idea of the scale and scope of a wedding – the tents out on the lawn, the guests walking along the path leading to the altar or the exterior of a building. And you get a new way of capturing the “I Do” moment – from above, not from the side or front. That’s why so many married couples are now exploring drone videography.

And it’s also a reason why filmmakers are embracing drones. It helps them push their creative boundaries, as well as get more intimate shots that were impossible with old filmmaking techniques.

New special effects

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If you love special effects in the movies, you’re going to love what drones are going to do for the future of entertainment. We’ve already seen a preview of what’s possible, in the form of 360-degree panoramic shots and amazing flight scenes over beautiful landscapes.

When you’re filming from 200 feet up in the air, almost anything becomes possible. In the same way that amateur videographers love to strap on their GoPro cameras and capture the sensations that are possible when skiing down a mountain or surfing a big wave, drones also make it possible to get a true “birds-eye view” of the action.

Imagine massive battle scenes, all filmed from the perspective of a bird flying overhead. Or, better yet, imagine a battle between the ancient Greeks and Spartans unfolding across a massive landscape, all filmed from the perspective of a winged god who is flying overhead.

But just about any type or genre of film would benefit from drone videography. There’s a common phrase – “I wish I could be a fly on the wall to hear that conversation.” Well, now you can. A stationary drone poised just a few feet above two actors is the technological equivalent of the fly on the wall. So imagine romantic dramas with amazing 360-degree panoramic shots, told in locations where traditional film crews can’t reach. This is enough to elevate any film, turning what might be just a 90-minute film into a probing look at human relationships.

A new generation of filmmakers

Where drones really have the potential to shake up the world of entertainment is by radically changing the cost structure of the industry. In short, drones are relatively cheap and cost-effective. Analysts who have done the math have calculated that the average day rate for a drone and crew in Hollywood is typically in the range of $9,000 – $15,000. That may sound absurdly expensive, but consider how much the day rate of a crew and helicopter is: $20,000 to $40,000 per day. Just like that, drones make filmmaking half as expensive.

This could be key for independent filmmakers trying to stay on a limited budget. Consider most of the genres that indie filmmakers typically choose – documentaries or low-budget dramas with just a few actors. That’s because it’s just too expensive to shoot car chase scenes or anything else that can’t be filmed within a very basic studio. But hook up a camera to a drone, and you can film scenes that were never before possible for low-budget filmmakers.

New genres

The really exciting work in the entertainment industry is being done with virtual reality. The first VR films were shot with a massive number of GoPro cameras all stitched together on one rig. But the next generation of VR films will take advantage of drones to offer amazing VR experiences capturing the sensation of flight. Imagine drones zipping through the air, capturing 360-degree panoramic footage around them.

That footage can then be used for VR experiences that blur the line between gaming and reality. Imagine being part of the natural wonder of massive formations of geese flying south for the winter. Or being a jet pilot, fighting a combat mission over the Pacific, feeling the gravitational forces as your plane dips and swirls to avoid incoming anti-aircraft fire.

For the near-term future, that might mean donning a special VR helmet before watching a Hollywood blockbuster. Instead of 3D effects of, say, a dragon flying through the air (and through the screen), you’d get the unique sensation of actually riding that dragon as it flies over a mythical science fiction landscape.

It’s clear that drones could really disrupt the field of entertainment. They will make the camera a ubiquitous presence in film, capable of capturing any angle at any height from any location. They will shake up Hollywood conventions and encourage a new generation of filmmakers to try their hand at making movies with special effects and 360-degree panoramic footage.

Drones will make it possible to capture amazing sensations, whether it’s flying through the air, or hovering overhead a major dramatic scene. Any filmmaker will now have an additional set of eyes, capable of going where he or she cannot. For movie audiences everywhere, that is going to be a very exciting development.

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