Introduction to Drone Cinematography: Everything You Need to Know To Get Started

Hosted by Chris Tangey

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Chris Tangey

Webinar hosted by: Chris Tangey

Cinematographer

Chris Tangey is one of the most isolated cinematographers in the world. Based in the small town of Alice Springs, the de facto capital of the Australian outback, his nearest city in any direction is 1000 miles distant. He taught himself camera 30 years ago at a small regional TV station and only in the last 3 years has he expanded his skills into aerial images, currently with global success. He recently filmed all of the Australia vision for the Nathaniel Rateliff music video "Time Stands", shot on all 6 continents. Other aerial shoots include the 2 part finale of the U.S. 2020 season of THE BACHELOR for Warner Brothers, "Nomad: In the footsteps of Bruce Chatwin" under director and film legend Werner Herzog, a global TV commercial for Tourism Australia "Hemsworth", BBC's SEVEN WORLDS-ONE PLANET, and various other documentaries and TV commercials. So far in 2020 Chris has won 4 aerial imagery awards in New York, Amsterdam and Italy. He also has 2 Gold and 4 silver awards from the Australian Cinematographers Society (the ACS). Chris has quickly become a leader in the field of aerial imagery and is ready to share what he knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

Aerial images go back to when hot air balloons first went up in the 1700s, but the use of aerial images has exploded in the 21st century with the now ubiquitous Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, better known as drones. In very little time, drone photography has become widely—perhaps too widely—used in countless films, television shows, commercials, and other media projects. And along with this wide adoption of drones has come a demand for those who can successfully and artfully operate them. This presents a potentially lucrative and rewarding opportunity for cinematographers looking to expand their reach and build their skill set. Yet with the clear overuse of drone photography in media today, each to varying effects, it’s evident that not all drone shots are created equal, and standing out requires a deeper level of skills.

Adding drone cinematography to your film, tv or new media project can breathe new life into shots that may, in the past, have cost your budget heavily to rent the necessary equipment to get. In the same way, finding success with drones requires more than knowing simply how to pilot one; a cinematographer needs to have the eye and well-developed instincts and they need to understand how to work with clients and artists to get those perfect shots. It's important to know that the term ‘drone operator’ is often used for those that use these vehicles to capture video or images, but just as cinematographers are never simply referred to as ‘tripod operators’, neither should anyone simply be seen as a ‘drone operator’. A drone is just a new way to place the camera in incredibly exciting places, a tool in a tool belt. Better understanding the steps that can take you to this point can prove exciting and promising for a cinematographer’s career.

Chris Tangey is one of the most sought after drone cinematographers in the world. His impressive career as a cinematographer has him working for Netflix, Warner Bros. Columbia Tristar, BBC, National Geographic, Discovery, Lonely Plant and more. He recently won "Best Aerial Cinematography" in the European Cinematography Awards, and both "Best Drone" and "Best Scenography" In the New York International Film Awards. He was also awarded a Jury Commendation in the World Drone Awards in Siena Italy. He has 2 Gold and 4 silver awards from the Australian Cinematographers Society. Chris has quickly become a leader in the field of aerial imagery and is ready to share what he knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community.

Chris will give you the knowledge and tools to get you started to becoming a successful aerial cinematographer. He’ll begin by giving a brief introduction on drone photography, offering a history and understanding of what exactly drones, as well as how they have affected the current state of helicopter-based cinematography. He’ll explain the benefits and exciting potential of drone cinematography and how that has come into play in media today. He’ll lay out how drones and drone photographers work within small and large productions and their crews. Next Chris will give a rundown of how drones work, what the main types of drones are, what the main drone manufacturers are, and what the notable parts of a drone are. He’ll explain what features are offered for different drones and what features are needed for different types of projects. He’ll also give tips on where to buy your own drone as well as how to obtain a licence to legally operate them. Chris will then outline the safety and legal aspects of operating drones. He will teach you the governmental rules and regulations in most countries, including vertical separation rules and how both controlled and uncontrolled aerodromes are treated. He’ll give you tips on how to navigate these rules while still working with your clients and how to understand what your licence gives you the right to do. He’ll also provide strategies to work within the confines and limits to still get the shots you need as well as strategies to keep yourself and your crew safe. Chris will go over how to break into the industry as an aerial cinematographer. He’ll explain the current marketplace and help outline what level of the marketplace you should be targeting. He’ll give you tips on how to build a reel and display your ability to find opportunities and will teach you how to find and stick to your rate, including ways to not undercut the market, manage value-added rates, and offset licence rights against day rates. Chris will even offer case studies from his own career to demonstrate how best to work with clients and get the shots you’re after. Expect to leave with the knowledge and confidence you need to kick start your own aerial cinematography career.

 

"My career as a cinematographer has been “elevated" greatly by incorporating drones and knowing how to use them properly to get the best possible shot. I'm so excited to share my experiences with the Stage 32 community and give everyone the knowledge to use this powerful tool to their creative and financial advantage"

-Chris Tangey

What You'll Learn

  • An Introduction to Drone Photography
    • A brief history and definition of drones
    • The current state of helicopter-based cinematography
    • The benefits and potential of drone photography
    • Where do we mostly see drones in media today
    • What it means to be a drone operator and why you should always be a cinematographer first
    • How both small and large productions use drones
    • How drone operators fit in with larger production crews
  • How Drones Work
    • The main types of drones
    • Notable drone manufacturers
    • The different parts of a drone
    • A rundown of drone features and what features you will need for different types of projects
    • Things to consider before purchasing your own drone
    • Where to buy a drone
    • Obtaining a license to operate a drone
    • Resources/websites/communities to learn from
  • Safety and Legal Aspects of Operating Drones
    • How do governmental rules and regulations of drones work in most countries?
      • FAA
      • CAA
      • CASA
    • 100 foot/400 foot rules
    • Vertical separation rules
    • Controlled vs. uncontrolled aerodromes
    • Navigating guidelines while working with your client (and learning how to say no)
    • Military bases, police, restricted areas, emergency events
    • Time of day
    • Flying at specific height
    • Working with people
    • Different levels of license
    • Ways to ‘cheat’ or work around the rules
    • What to do to stay safe and keep your crew safe
      • VLOS
      • Strobes
      • Audible alarm
  • Finding Jobs and Opportunities with Drones in the Industry
    • Understanding the marketplace
    • What level of the marketplace should you target?
    • How to build a reel and best display your ability
    • The tricky business of quoting and sticking to your rate.
      • Undercutting the market
      • Value-added rates
      • Offsetting license rights against day rates
    • Understanding clients’ needs and managing their expectations
    • Chris’s case study of working with a client in order to further your own career
  • Q&A with Chris

About Your Instructor

Chris Tangey is one of the most isolated cinematographers in the world. Based in the small town of Alice Springs, the de facto capital of the Australian outback, his nearest city in any direction is 1000 miles distant. He taught himself camera 30 years ago at a small regional TV station and only in the last 3 years has he expanded his skills into aerial images, currently with global success. He recently filmed all of the Australia vision for the Nathaniel Rateliff music video "Time Stands", shot on all 6 continents. Other aerial shoots include the 2 part finale of the U.S. 2020 season of THE BACHELOR for Warner Brothers, "Nomad: In the footsteps of Bruce Chatwin" under director and film legend Werner Herzog, a global TV commercial for Tourism Australia "Hemsworth", BBC's SEVEN WORLDS-ONE PLANET, and various other documentaries and TV commercials. So far in 2020 Chris has won 4 aerial imagery awards in New York, Amsterdam and Italy. He also has 2 Gold and 4 silver awards from the Australian Cinematographers Society (the ACS). Chris has quickly become a leader in the field of aerial imagery and is ready to share what he knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community.

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How to Operate a Drone as a Filmmaker and Use It to Get Noticed

In very little time, drone photography has become widely—perhaps too widely—used in countless films, television shows, commercials, and other media projects. And along with this wide adoption of drones has come a demand for those who can successfully and artfully operate them. This presents a potentially lucrative and rewarding opportunity for cinematographers looking to expand their reach and build their skill set. Yet with the clear overuse of drone photography in media today, each to varying effects, it’s evident that not all drone shots are created equal, and standing out requires a deeper level of skills. Adding drone cinematography to your film, TV or new media project can breathe new life into shots that may, in the past, have cost your budget heavily. But finding success with drones requires more than knowing simply how to pilot one; a cinematographer needs to understand how to properly use the tool and work with clients and artists to get those perfect shots. The truth is, for as often as drone camerawork is used in film, television and new media today, you can still stand out as a cinematographer in a big way by using drones smartly, artfully, and effectively. But what turns drone photography from mediocre to great? And how can you use this tool to stand out and not only enhance your current project but also help you get more work in the future? Chris Tangey is one of the most sought after drone cinematographers in the world. His impressive career as a cinematographer has him working for Netflix, Warner Bros. Columbia Tristar, BBC, National Geographic, Discovery, Lonely Plant and more. He recently won "Best Aerial Cinematography" in the European Cinematography Awards, and both "Best Drone" and "Best Scenography" In the New York International Film Awards. He was also awarded a Jury Commendation in the World Drone Awards in Siena Italy and has 2 Gold and 4 silver awards from the Australian Cinematographers Society. Chris has quickly become a leader in the field of aerial imagery and is ready to share what he knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Chris will continue his drone cinematography education by expanding into the more intermediate and advanced elements of creating a great drone shot and using your work to help you get work. He will begin by going over the nuts and bolts of operating a drone, including preparation and safety checks, proper thumb and finger placement, and what the 180 degree shutter rule is. He’ll also explain how to maintain the shutter rule with ND and PL filters and teach you how to properly take off and land. He will also give you tips of how to eliminate variables and trip points when planning your flight and will show you how to continue to improve. Next Chris will break down the anatomy of a good drone shot. He will explain when drones are useful and when they should actually replace a jib or dolly shot. He’ll talk about the importance of getting the shot you’re after and how to tell if you’re overshooting. Next Chris will discuss different types of cinematic drone shots, including landscape shots, dolly shots, and lift shots. Then he’ll go more in depth of when you SHOULD use a drone and when you SHOULDN’T, including questions you should ask yourself before using the drone, how best to plan your shot, and what situations are most effective for drones. Finally, Chris will go over how drones work in the industry and how this particular skill set fits in. He’ll teach you the best ways to show off your talent and get noticed and give you tips on pathways to find work, including networks and communities, forums and drones for hire databases, and how that intersects with representation. Chris will leave you with a lot more context, skills, strategies, and knowledge to start using drones for your project and stand out from the pack while doing it.   This is Part 2 of Chris Tangey's Drone Cinematography Webinar Series. To check out Part 1, now available on demand, click here.     "My career as a cinematographer has been “elevated" greatly by incorporating drones and knowing how to use them properly to get the best possible shot. I'm so excited to share my experiences with the Stage 32 community and give everyone the knowledge to use this powerful tool to their creative and financial advantage" -Chris Tangey

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