Scouting for Your Shoot
This section here is really helping us get prepared for this, the upcoming section or the section, I should say, on the different camera moves. 'cause there we will, well maybe I don't wanna let the rabbit out of the hat yet, so, where we're gonna go. But let's go ahead and prepare, like, prepare ourselves for the shoot. So, a big part of finding, well, a big part of capturing great images is filming at great locations, and filming interesting subjects. So, in the beginning when you get your drone, of course, you're gonna go out to the park and you're gonna fly it. After a while a lot of your footage is gonna look like, you know, a lot of flying at a park, and, you know, and suburbs and or wherever you happen to live or whatever. And so what you're gonna wanna start doing to build your reel, if this is something that you're wanting to build more, your kind of dynamic images, things that maybe you could promote to your business as you're getting into photography or cinematography, you'r...
e gonna wanna think about, you know, what you wanna film and where you're gonna film it. And I think, too, what comes to that is what you're gonna, as you start doing more drone photography, or drone videography is, you start asking yourself the question like, what would best be represented by a drone shot. What would best be represented in the air? We were talking today, I was talking today with one of the students here in the studio, about filming this one location in San Francisco of the Bay Bridge. And we were talking about, well like, it may be that you'd wanna film that on the ground anyways. You know, if there's not the kind of dynamic movement that the drone gives, or if you can reach it some other way it may be just as well to get your regular camera out and a tripod and just shoot it either static or something like that. But start thinking about, like, the subjects you wanna film and how you can best film them in a different sort of way that adds upper level, that higher level production value. And so that will then get you thinking, okay, wouldn't it be awesome if we filmed, for example, surfers in Santa Cruz. (chuckles) Which is actually what we did here, with the CreativeLive team, and surfing is, actually this is my first time filming surfers, and it is like the most fun thing to do as a drone operator because, first of all you've got probably a good amount of willing subjects, you know, 'cause it's just a great thing to watch. And there's folks that are maybe in surfing that are trying to promote themselves and whatever and maybe you can hook up with talent like that that's trying to promote their own work. I find that to be true. A lot of athletes, like I've filmed skiers and and snowboarders before a lot and they're always really excited because they know that the drone can show their, off their skills in a way that maybe, you know, other methods quite can't, you know, can't quite do it. So, for the pre shoot that we did, some of the footage that you'll see is in Santa Cruz and so we had to do quite a bit of scouting before arrived at Santa Cruz. I was thinking wouldn't it be awesome, I was thinking you know we're gonna be right, right at the coast there, wouldn't it be awesome if we could film some, a surfer or some surfers? And so we started, we started scouting and, you know scouting, when it comes to just traditional videography or photography it's a challenge in and of itself. And as a matter of fact I used to live right, when I lived in Nashville I used to live right next door to a location scout. And that kinda blew my mind. That's the first time I ever thought about the fact that there, that's a job, like, it's a full time job. Just like finding amazing locations for films and that sort of thing. And you would always be, you know, so he's this really laid back guy and he would, he'd be always walking out in the morning with this, his, you know, his cup of coffee and he'd just hit the road and he'd be gone for days, but location scouting for films. And, so it's a challenge in itself to find a great location but add on top of that the fact that with certain laws and regulations and stuff like that with drones, you also have to think about where can I fly. Right? So, initially, when we started looking all along the coast here, on the west coast here by San Francisco there's actually quite a lot of protected areas, for wildlife, and so there's overfly zones, ways that you could look these things up. First we were looking at flying at a place called, I think it was Gray Whale, Gray Whale Cove? And, um, Gray Whale Cove is part of the California State Parks, and so the first thing I did is I found the website, their, as a matter of fact I'll, I'll show you that. If we toggle over to the laptop, and I have the page up here for Gray Whale Cove. So yeah, this is the page that comes up, and which is the case with a lot of locations as you're starting to look, especially around, you know, state parks and national parks. And there'll be a contact number for the film permit person here, off to the right. And so we contacted the person in charge there for the, um, for permits and actually at the same time I did a quick search on the state parks website, here I just search, and I just typed in drone, you know. And this first PDF, which actually I pulled up over here, came up, and it says, "Drones are currently allowed in State Parks, "State Beaches, State Historic Parks," et cetera, et cetera. "except where prohibited by a District "Superintendent's posted order." So, actually, and I'll continue to read this 'cause this is, I find this interesting for us drone operators, so, "Posted orders may prohibit drones for numerous "reasons, including protection of threatened "species, threats to cultural and natural "resources, fire danger, public safety, "recreational conflicts, impacts upon visitor "experience privacy and park unit classification. "Therefore drone users should always check with "their local State Park District for any specific "posted orders." So I guess the question is, what makes a posted order? In my mind, that's posted on site, right? Wouldn't you say? I mean I, I don't know, we actually never ended up flying at this one location. And this was on a list of places that we did a search, you know, cool places to fly drones or places you could fly drones in the San Francisco area. And this is one of those places that came up. Once we started doing our due diligence and started looking, um, you know, everything looked good and we were just, you know, generally when you film in a place like this, of course, or maybe not of course, if you're going from being a recreational pilot to a commercial or professional filmmaker, pilot, drone pilot, you start having to get film permits just, you know, typically, most places you film and, so you contact the permit person and we're like yeah, we should be good to go, you know, we did our research, it's generally okay, and then he came back and said, "Actually, this location along with a lot of "coastal locations have," I'll pull this up, this is, this is the email that we got back. And this actually not the first email, this is after I was like well, what, well, I'll read this here, it says, "Good morning, Blaine, (chuckles) "thank you for doing some research in the "use of drones at State Parks here in California. "Each sector district may prohibit the use of "drones for various reasons as noted in the "first paragraph of the document." I was referencing that PDF, 'cause at first you just said, "We don't allow drones." and I was like wait a minute, your website says quite the opposite and, um, "but in this area of the California coastline "lives the Western Snowy Plover." They're those little tiny birds that run around like crazy on the beaches, and "which is federally endangered bird species. "drones act as a predator for these birds "and this causes the adults to abandon "their nests." Et cetera, et cetera. So, um, I mean not to make light of that, and obviously that's something that we need to be conscientious of as drone operators. I mean they are, they are fairly noisy and I could see where that would disrupt, I mean they make a lot more noise than probably their natural predators. So, (laughs) but, um, so what's interesting about that is if, I started digging down further and like even just throwing a Frisbee, when these birds are nesting they prohibit you from throwing a Frisbee, from flying a kite, here's the thing, like as a, as a, and I don't wanna encourage you to, to fly in a place where, you know, we get this enote, don't fly in a place like this, where they're saying specifically, hey, this is the reason and you shouldn't do it. But, you're gonna, you're gonna find out these, these specific reasons when you are actually doing it more for commercial work 'cause that's when you're filming, you know, filing for permits, and you're probably gonna get a lot more, not saying you're gonna get a lot of notes, but you're gonna find out the true situation of the area where it's, maybe they didn't post the order, but now that you're filing for a film permit, they're gonna let you know. So, that was, that was a challenge for us, definitely. Especially as, um, that bird nests all along the coast, and so finding a place where that wasn't a nesting area was a bit of a challenge. So, what did we end up doing? So, so our, the production team here, thankfully, they just kept calling folks and looking and looking and we ended up finding this nice location in Santa Cruz, actually, I'll toggle over to Google Earth. And, I mean, so that's just it, it's like, finding the loca, oh, finding the location, also one app that we looked at in the other section on, on airspace is AirMap.io, and they will actually show sections where you can't fly over. Typically these flyover zones are for, they were initially intended like for full scale, full size aircraft to not fly below a thousand feet. So, usually that's like a NOAA, N-O-A-A regulation so and as it's under a thousand feet that really applies to us drone operators. So you have to be careful of these overfly zones, which show up in AirMap. I believe that's what these, these areas right here, in red represent. So here's our location in Santa Cruz, and you can see that our location is right on the edge. So we are, or I should say this is where we flew. See that? Yeah. So this is where we flew and we were right on the edge where we couldn't fly. You know, so, it's um, sometimes it can be tricky, especially in these kinds of areas where there's a lot of wildlife and that sort of thing . So, um, so scouting. The number one tool that I probably use the most when I'm trying to get a sense of, of the spot is Google Earth. You guys use Google Earth for scouting or much? Yeah, um, and what's interesting that, thing about this location right here, if I zoom out, this is called Steamer's Lane, by the way, it's got a, it's a popular spot with surfers. And what's interesting about this location, if I hadn't scouted beforehand, I mean so we've got the coast running there in north south but when you get to this spot right here, it cuts in. And so it's actually, from where we were standing, west looked like north to us, and east looked like south. And so when we were thinking about the lighting and the, you know, on the scout day we were there the day before, we're like, oh yeah, over there to the north, but wait, the sun and whatnot and so it just really helps to have a tool like google Earth to come in here and go oh wait a minute, actually this is a really neat location, because you're gonna have golden hour light or magic hour light. Both like, good lighting on both sides of the day. So you'll have like the surfers illuminated off to the side, you know, both sides of the day, both parts of the day. So you can come in here and then kind of tilt the, tilt around, get a sense of the topography. We also found out that we weren't supposed to film this here for whatever reason. Some iconic thing. So, so yeah, that was another thing, too. So here we are at Steamer's Lane, and we're thinking about, okay so we can't film that here, but what's the shot anyway? I mean with surfers it's , in my mind it's all that tracking 'em, and I mean it's like getting that action shot and so, so if you're thinking about it, the surfers, so we're standing here on the, on the um, at the beach area or it was actually rocky, so we were on kinda like this, this uh, just a little gated area and the surfers are coming at, coming at me, you know? Or coming at us. And so, to me, like the, the money shot is getting like the, the front of the surfer and then kinda tracking with them as they're following through the wave, as it kind of shapes up. And so, so it's kind of like this back, well I was flying backwards quite a lot. We were talking about backward flying skills, and sometimes they going really fast and some of these like GPS enabled nodes, where they're made to go kind of slower and smoother and that sort of thing, like I would be a little bit nervous tracking surfers in that mode because maybe you can't get out of the way fast enough, you know, 'cause they're starting to really move. So, so that's what I thought when I was looking at the scene there. We decided we would stand right about right here. You can see with the mouse, so the surfers are coming in, we're standing here, I'm flying backwards, and so we kind of had a plan for the day in terms of where we would be, what the lighting would be, and what potential shots would be.