The Game of Drone FAQs, by Drone-Pictures

Or everything you should know about the true possibilities and limitations of the drone in France

We answer your questions

You are a creative person and flying drones challenges you everyday ?

We also ! 

You do not like pre-conceived ideas, beaten track and conformism? Neither us!

Lets go for some straightforward answers to legitimate questions, you might never have asked us!


Absolutely not! Do not succumb to the fashion effect of putting drone shots without having a real narrative need!

Certainly, from the top “everything is more beautiful”, so what?

What is the meaning, the added value, the imperative contribution to your film?

These are the very first questions you must ask yourself, even if you give up the drone temptation!

Nevertheless, if you have an overflowing imagination and the budget to devote to it, undoubtedly, some well-made and perfectly realized drone plans can have an artistic interest in your work. But that only belongs to you, to your creativity, and the drone will only be one of the tools.
A tool. Nothing more, nothing less, as there are dozens at the service of your desires for images!

 Yes & No…!!

A drone does not fly as fast, nor as high, nor as long, nor in strong wind or rainy weather!

The big difference in our opinion between the two aerial vectors being that the drone “pulls off the ground”, even if it can also perform nice descents, while the helicopter arrives from far, and / or high, it s approach and bypass the filmed subject!

Proximity versus General View.

The drone follows you everywhere, but much closer than a helicopter (1m), even in the forest, in a tunnel, under a bridge, at the water’s edge and at ground level (20cms!): Imagine the unfeasible plans that this wonder will bring you if it is used wisely! So much plan inaccessible in helicopter.

Like any tool, the drone will only fully reveal itself if it is used judiciously and sparingly!

Finally, yes again, if you think of the drone for a car tracking plan on a mountain lined road (at the Shining) … provided you do not drive at more than 40-50km / h!

Otherwise, think of the helicopter instead.

See our special drone video about Tracking Vehicles in 4K Track & Follow” and our latest reel “Need for Speed”, all shot by our drones, often in a dual operators configuration.

Note that the drone can in some situations be more expensive than a helicopter hour.

Based on the principle that we have a flying camera evolving in three dimensions and that the operators have joysticks on their radio-control that they can use in individual mode or in simple or complex combination, it is indeed possible to execute of innumerable movements, at very different speeds and angles!

The basis of what the drone can do in audiovisual matters revolves around these plans:

  • • Forward / backward / sideways tracking (in translation)
  • • Circular tracking (we turn around the subject)
  • • Simple elevation or descent (straight or oblique)
  • • Elevation or circular descent (the drone goes up / down while “wrapping” the subject)
  • • Ascending and descending spiral (wide altitude movement)
  • • Ascent or Descent with panoramic (+ variation of the angle of the camera to fix a subject)
  • • Right and panoramic elevation
  • • Panoramic 180/360 ° ascending
  • • Panoramic 180/360 ° in Altitude
  • • Low-speed or high-speed
  • • Tracking forward / backward half-way and taking slow or blazing altitude
  • • Tracking backwards with left / right scan
  • • Subject tracking and ascent (car, pedestrian, cyclist, …)
  • • Subject tracking and overtaking by keeping it or not in the frame
  • • Traveling forward / backward Vertical 90 ° (with or without camera rotation)
  • • Vertical Ascent / Descent (90 ° camera with or without rotation)
  • • Traveling before descending on a subject (Effect Attack or Landing)
  • • Vertigo effect or Trans-Trav or Compensated Traveling (requires a zoom): the principle is to play optically on the zoom opposite the direction of the drone. Example: if the drone advances, we zoom in or vice versa, see these videos.
Finally, our favorite, rarely applicable but it is a bluffing Combo: effect vertigo during a semi-circular tracking!

Once upon a time, before the year of grace 2014, when the vast majority of drones were flying beautiful interchangeable lens devices and where it was common to be able to choose its focal length according to his own desires, needs, inspirations, not to mention its camera or case responding with exactness to the creative imperatives!

Today, these drones have invaded the market and it becomes difficult to have the choice of a longer focal length, not to mention a larger sensor.

Even more to find a zoom to perform a Vertigo effect in 4K for example!

And yet, to be able to choose your focal length and / or a zoom for each flight, is a major asset in the conception of an image: to play with the perspectives, to vary the depth of field (the zone of sharpness), to frame tighter without putting the drone too close to the subject (also security and precision issue), zoom during a follow-up to compensate for the distance in case of unspecified subject / drone speed, use a follow-focus on some cameras …

The domination of the “all 20mm” poses us a real concern, which is why even if we recognize the undeniable value of these drones
with integrated camera (X3 or Phantom 3/4), we prefer drones allowing to board the sensor and the ‘objective of our choice, in order to maintain control over the image to be created.Thus, with our machines, we can offer these focal fixed Prime Zuiko Olympus on a base of micro sensor 4/3 (1.9x a sensor 1 inch) with the GH4 or Zenmuse X5S (Raw and ProRes optional): a 14-42mm / F3.5-5.6 zoom (in picture), a 12mm / F2, a 25mm / F1.8, a 45mm / F1.8. (see this video for NBC where the 12 and the 25mm were implemented) or this one using the 45mm in crop factor 2.7 (frame rate 50p in 4k on Inspire 2)

It is an essential guarantee of openness to the possibilities that it is crucial to preserve because we do not like to say “no” to an inventive spirit!

Here, it is necessary to evaluate the rendering need for the desired images by the DOPand the technical counterparts of the drone. Clearly, the more a drone is big and heavy (case of a machine capable of lifting a Red or similar), smaller will be his field of flying possibilities.

Here are some examples:

No flight in populated or urban areas because these drones far exceed the 8 kilograms allowed in S3 scenario! Derogations are possible but at the cost of a long administrative delay and a cable of restraint between the drone in flight and the ground, which will limit very strongly its latitude of evolution.
In non-populated / non-urban areas, here are the constraints of a large drone: no flight in confined or long-term (8 to 10 minutes at most).
No spectacular passage between obstacles very close to one meter, like church steeples, narrow alley, door, trees, corridors, etc.
Amount of air brewing phenomenal visible on the sequence if the flight is close to a dusty or hard ground (in autumn), an actress in long dress (fabric and hair in the wind!), Water (ripple) which prevents flying less than 2 meters from the subject.

Ideal compromise: use a smaller camera with an excellent lens, and recover the non

compressed via the HDMI output, in 4k if necessary, and record it in 422 / 10bits in Prores HQ, knowing that a Gh5, a Sony A6500 or A7IIs have an exposure latitude of 11 to 12 stops (Ev) and generates little noise in dim light. The A7, GH5s or A6500 is the most suitable – for the moment – for shooting in restricted light see at night (although prohibited by drone, except derogation!).

Another solution that we prefer: the filming in Raw or ProRes 4444 or 422HQ with the stabilized camera Dji Zenmuse X5S and its fixed focal length optics Zuiko Prime 12, 25 or 45mm embedded by the excellent drone that is the Inspire 2.

There are many, it is to get lost sometimes but common sense dictates that most of the rules were enacted for obvious reasons of third-party safety, knowing that a drone broken down in mid-flight will drop like a stone of several kilos and that nobody wants to be under that time, or on its uncontrolled trajectory.

Here is a summary of the main procedures and limitations that every responsible and conscious UAV pilot must respect scrupulously:

• Respect of the rules related to french civil aviation and check the related aeronautical charts before each mission
• Request for authorizations and permits, if required, to the concerned authorities, and/or prior declaration to the prefecture if flying in urban-zones or populated areas (Dgac scenario S3)
• No vertical flyover of people
• No flight within 10 to 30m of the public that is not part of the activity
• No flight within 30m of an expressway, a highway, a railway line not cut to traffic
• No night flight except derogation
• Maximum distance from take-off point: 100m in town (S3); 200m in the countryside (S1)
• Maximum altitude allowed: 120m. Sometimes much less depending on the aeronautical zones. In the vicinity of airports this can be prohibited or allowed with a limit of 30m depending on the distance of the tracks. Permanent contact with the control tower.
• In town, the drone can not exceed 8 kilos and must be equipped with a parachute. If it weighs less than 2 kilos, the parachute is not required.
• The drone pilot can not follow his drone in a moving vehicle, except if he is on board a boat

Chrono question : once the technical choices validated with the customer, the longest is to decide on the flight to achieve and its settings. Then you have to mark each time the takeoff area and notify third parties not to enter. The initialization of the drone then takes just 2 minutes and the flight time depends on the type of drone and what it weighs in the air: 6 to 30 minutes of flight without changing batteries!

Weather question : all drones are not equal before the vagaries of the sky! There is even a waterproof model … but we rarely want to film by drone when it rains or by a cloudy and gray day !
Right after rain and water, the worst enemy of the drone is strong wind: we do not recommend flying in bursts higher than 50-70 km / h.
We cancel most of our missions in the city from 40-50 km / h because they are populated areas and we do not wish to expose the population to a risk of loss of control due to an unpredictable Venturi effect.
Another enemy of most drones: rainwater. The snow is still conceivable in small doses and with some flying machines, the humidity passes without worries taking a few precautions.

Everything is relative, but most serious UAV operators, established over the last few years, seek to maintain balanced accounts in their annual balance sheets. The approach is healthy and responsible and for this, they practice a daily rate around 1500 € for a drone, manned by an experienced team (pilot + cameraman), including the camera, batteries and monitors.

This amount is generally divided into the following four components: 1/4 going to the pilot, 1/4 to the cameraman, 1/4 covering the equipment costs, the last quarter paying the regular costs to maintain the activity.

It should also be noted that owning several drones and several cameras (even modest) involve investments sometimes important for companies often small and often use credit to finance these recurring purchases, given the rapid obsolescence: between 15 and 50K€ invested over 2-3 years in most cases.
These short-term credits generate high monthly payments. Barely reimbursed, we must take another to fund new equipment more efficient, always requested by customers.

Other factors directly affecting the rates:

• the seasonality of the activity that makes the bulk of the missions is done during a short period of time: 6 to 8 months per year of revenue versus 12 months of constant expenses,
• maintenance costs of the equipment,
• the batteries (100-200 € / each) are expensive consumables whose life is very short (50/100 flights at most),
• the breakage and the risks of loss are far from negligible: insurance premiums are therefore substantial (1000 to 3000 € / year)
• compliance with the regulations requires a good training (3000 €), time to research each site and then contact the authorities: it ranges from one hour to a day of administrative work upstream, often not invoiced
• the experience of pilots and cameramen at your disposal: their dexterity, their imagination, their know-how, their knowledge of the region, as well as their enthusiasm are as many guarantees for the success of your images.

In sum, you might just ask yourself the following question: ‘Can I afford to risk missing a shoot by choosing the cheapest provider, so certainly the least experienced, and perhaps the least reliable?’

And how to evaluate the added value of talent, precision, creativity, enthusiasm, responsiveness, strength of proposal?

The answer belongs to you and you know from experience, that everything has value.

It all depends on your answers to the questions throughout this article, plus one, a fundamental reason to our sense :

Show a usual place from unusual angles !

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Drone à Marseille : Drone Picture


With Drone Pictures, you call upon a civilian drone operator, established since 2011 in Marseille, guaranteeing a high quality creative work. Our video productions and audiovisual services by drone, as well as our numerous clients, attest to our seriousness and our enthusiasm to always serve you better!