Drones and events – an interview with drone pilot Eddie Codel
Eddie Codel is our top drone pilot we go to and has been flying them for years. An early adopter, Eddie has done a lot of drone and events as well as other commercial and creative work with drones so we wanted to give you some insight into how drones and events can go together and what to look out for and what to inspire your events with! (Hint: to see some of the amazing work that can be done with drones, check out the Flying Robot international Drone Film Festival, which Eddie is the founder of)
What are some of the main types of drone shots that are most useful in the events industry?
A couple drone shots that work well for events are the orbit and the dronie. An orbit is where you circumnavigate around a point of interest with the drone’s camera fixed inward. It’s a cinematic way of showcasing a particular venue or event.
Dronies are always fun, which are essentially drone based selfies. A dronie begins as a closeup of one or more people and zooms (flies) out to an extremely wide shot that showcases the venue and the surrounding area, such as a cityscape or mountains.
What are some innovative uses of drones you’ve done and/or would love to do?
Some uses outside of aerial photography are 3D mapping and modeling of structures. This is something that is becoming more commonplace in surveying and construction. For pure fun, flying or racing mini-quads is always a hit. When it comes to racing drones and making movies there are people that are a lot better at it than me, which is one reason I started a film festival specifically for drone based filmmakers.
What are some misconceptions about drones and drone use?
A big misconception some people have is that you can just pick up a drone and start flying. Drones are definitely easier to operate than ever before, but there are safety considerations and laws in place regarding where and when one can fly.
There are many places where it’s unsafe and illegal to fly a drone which could land a naive drone pilot in hot water. If you plan on making money with your drone, you have to become Part 107 certified by passing a test with the FAA to become a Remote Pilot in Command. That requires understanding regulations, airspace classes, sectional maps and understanding aviation weather reports among other things. Getting your Part 107 certification is a requirement for any sort of commercial work, including simply monetizing your online drone videos with ads.
How did you get into using drones?
I jumped down the drone rabbit hole four years ago after watching a friend shoot a beautiful short summer video at conference event in Palm Springs. When I saw the resulting video I was hooked. I soon pieced together my own camera drone rig with a GoPro, motorized gimbal and video downlink system. Back then, there was no all-in-one solution like is common with today’s drones, you had to piece together the components to build your aerial photography platform. I brought my rig to Burning Man in 2013, resulting in a video that clocked up almost 2 million views in a week.
What do you see coming as trends and evolutions of drones and drone usage?
Consumer drones will continue to become smaller, cheaper, smarter and safer. DJI, the undisputed leader in the consumer drone space, has just released their smallest and cheapest drone yet. It can be completely controlled through gestures. I see more autonomous features and AI being integrated as drones continue to evolve.
What’s one of the most notable ways you’ve piloted a drone for an event?
One fun project I was hired to do was to conduct a drone delivery of a remote presentation clicker to a keynote speaker on stage at a large conference in a room full of hundreds of people. At the appointed moment, I flew the drone down the aisle towards the front of the stage right up to the keynote speaker who extracted the remote clicker from the bottom of the drone. It was a dramatic moment used to kick off his keynote speech.
Any last thoughts on drones and events?
Ultimately, drones are fun tool in a photographer or event producers toolkit. They don’t make sense for every occasion as there are a lot of factors to consider but when they do, the resulting imagery is unique and unlike anything else!
To hire us for your own event drone coverage, contact us or feel free to just reach out if you want to discuss ideas on how we can integrate both drones and events!