Our story - 2011/2021

Ten years yet around the Drone World:
a retrospective on a pioneer era!

Today, it has become quite commonplace to buy, use or see flying these funny flying “models” that are drones (model was the term used by the military to evoke drones!).

But if we consider that in 2011, barely 10 years ago, there was still no major drone manufacturer, no proper regulation, and even less a market or a structured and professional offer in the UAV world, then we can measure all the ground covered since this decade in which, humbly, Drone-Pictures has taken part from the beginnings!

Genesis in 2011 :

Everything started in 2011 when Sami Sarkis, photographer and documentary filmmaker, decided to commit to a new activity complementary to his work as an author represented by the largest image banks (Getty, Alamy, Age, PhotoAlto).

In search of ideas since 2009, Sami, already experienced in aerial photography by helicopter, plane and microlight, discovers this new tool that was then the drone. Not knowing how to pilot yet, Sami joins forces with a talented aeromodeling pilot: Bruno. Together, they will buy in Belgium a Microkopter kit including a hexacopter drone and a 3-axis gimbal that they will have it assembled and adjusted by Vincent, a young engineer who has some knowledge in the field. 

Early 2012 :

The brand Drone-Pictures does not exist yet and Sami and Bruno offer their services of aerial photography services by drone each on their respective websites. Very quickly the requests are flooding in, but not for aerial photography as expected, but for aerial videography. It will then be necessary to adapt and to buy a first camera, the Sony CX-740 because it integrates an ultra-performing oil bath optical stabilizer, essential to attenuate the effect of vibrations on the images. Footage that will regularly be affected by shaking and other “jello effect”, always due to vibrations that the servo-motor gimbals can not totally absorb!

Spring 2012 :

Although promising on paper, the purchase of this first Microkopter drone will quickly turn out to be a very bad choice. The drone being unstable and unreliable, its pilot was never really at ease in flight and the machine will end up suffering a crash at the beginning of its effective use. Fortunately, the damage will only be material. Result: 4000€ and 6 months lost. It will then quickly become necessary to invest again in a ready-to-use drone, already assembled and adjusted by its manufacturer. DJI has just released a very promising hexacopter, the S800. The team will buy two of them from FlashRC in Grenoble and will be able to assure, with serenity, one of its first important assignment : a mixed film of air/ground images for an agricultural distributor in the Var french department (South of France). The very first Drone-Pictures showreel will be released in July 2012 !

Throughout the year 2012, between two projects for customers very excited by the achievements of this new tool, the team will not stop making test flights, settings and various assemblies, with a focus on vibration isolation between the gimbals (still servo-motors!) and the upper part of the drone. A recurring problem that will be definitively solved in 2015… the road of the pioneers of drone filming was not easy!

End of 2012:

Sami and Bruno split up. Sami wishes to work differently with other pilots in dual control, reserving the position of drone cameraman. The company’s offer is structured around aerial video and becomes more professional, in accordance with the first drone regulations set up in April 2012 by the DGAC (French Civil Aviation Authority). For Sami Sarkis, it is already a question of excellence, creativity and versatility! The website Drone-Pictures.fr is launched in early 2013 and the drone shootings follow one another, in particular for the France 3 program Des Racines et des Ailes.

Winter 2013:

Sami meets Walter, then an independent drone conceptor and pilot. 

The idea of an association is born, Walter having several drones capable of carrying large 4k cameras like the RED, the BlackMagic, the Canon C500 or the Nikon D800. A day of flight demonstration is then organized by Drone-Pictures in front of the acqueduct of Roquefavour in Ventabren. Producers and representatives of companies as well as the Municipality of Marseille were present. The LCM TV channel even devoted a whole report to it which the team begs you to watch with the greatest indulgence!

Anyway, the craze was such that the order book for the year 2013 was well filled! 

But the association with Walter was short-lived and Sami had to quickly find a new pilot and a new drone. It will be an Octocopter drone (8 arms/motors), ordered from Drone RC in Nancy, and named “Guapa” by its first pilot Nicolas.

Summer 2013:

The meeting with Nicolas was a great opportunity for the next three years. Nicolas being a very experienced airplane and ultralight pilot, he is naturally an experienced drone pilot.  

Sami finally found his Alter-ego. The team was in perfect symbiosis and the missions followed one another at a frantic pace, with CNR, TF1, EuropaCorp, ZDF, LIDL, Vinci-Construction, and many audiovisual production companies such as Pampa for the fictional TV movie La vallée des Mensonges,

Fall 2013 :

Drone regulations enacted in April 2012 were beginning to be applied. The new duo thought very quickly about the training of telepilots and cameramen specialized on Drones. It was during a very long drive to Normandy, for a mission at AJ Hackett,

that Nicolas and Sami, laid the foundations of their training and drone service activity. Two independent companies were to be created: one for training (Drones-Lab), the other for audiovisual services and aerial images, SAS HOsiHO – Drone-Pictures. 

Sami then added Benjamin and Eric, two young pilots from the Marseille area, to his team.

On the top of the Simona building in Monaco

December 2013 :

the very first drone training is held at the foot of the Roqufavour aqueduct! 

Two students from the future Drones-Lab flight school were present at this session #1, by a freezing temperature of -6°C. Among these 2 students was Thomas, who left BFMTV to create his company Live Drone, a few months later.

The roles between Sami and Nicolas were being defined, but it quickly became clear that Nicolas would be the trainer of the drone pilots, while Sami would explain the ins and outs of taking videos and photos by drone.

The drone commissions came in abundance, including this very first drone flight in Monaco to film the Simona building by architect Jean-Pierre Lott.

January 2014 :

Filing of the by-laws of SAS HOsiHO – Drone-Pictures and official launch of the Drones-Lab school.

Drone-Pictures clearly addresses tourism promotion with a Heritage and Tourism offer.

Winter 2014 :

Launch of the HOsiHO aerial image bank, then named, France seen from above and attendance at a first tradeshow: Voyage en Multimédia in Saint-Raphaël where the young company presents its website HOsiHO.com and its drones. 

The Showreel 2013 will mark the beginning of the company’s activity as the first drone service operator in Marseille and in the South of France / PACA region.

Spring 2014 :

Arrival of 4K technology and two DJI S1000 drones, with, finally, brushless gimbals that will allow to make 4K video with a Panasonic GH4, a Blackmagic and the new Sony AX100 4K camera.

Summer 2014 :

the team is growing with the pilot Salim, who will shoot a first wildlife documentary by dronefor France 2: “Cheval de Camargue, seigneur des marais” by Laurent Charbonnier and Jean-Pierre Laborde. Then followed missions for television with the Foire de Marseille for M6 TV channel, and a second shooting for CAPA, program Des Racines et des Ailes, special Riviera.

Autumn 2014 :

In view of the growing success of aerial photography training, new courses are offered, always in collaboration with Drones-Lab, with whom the links are strengthened. The combined piloting/framing courses allow Sami to forge links with many future drone operators, who will still be working in 2021.

Winter 2015 :

The demand for drone services does not slow down. The vast majority taking place in urban or populated areas, a new S3 approved drone, with parachutes, will enter the Drone-Pictures fleet. It is the Y6 S3 from Hexadrone, a skilled French manufacturer based in Auvergne and having received an approval of its drone for the DGAC S3 scenario. Release of a compilation of the most beautiful aerial images taken by drone in Provence, including Avignon, for the Comité Régional du Tourisme en Paca and Fanny Production. Proof that remotely piloted aircraft can be very useful for the promotion of tourist destinations and architectural heritage.

Spring 2015 :

Drone Pictures films the Château de Chenonceau by drone and on the ground, from every angle and in 4K video! Another demonstration of what the combination of drone & ground images can bring to the promotion of such a fabulous place or site (clips on sale on HOsiHO)

Thalazur Center in Cabourg, Normandy

Summer 2015 :

Thalassotherapy filmed by drone, for Thalazur. Thanks to Marc, who met the team during a training course on framing and piloting at the Saint-Ser vineyard in Puyloubier, the drone-team will realize all the aerial shots by drone of the eight thalassotherapy centers of the Thalazur group! A real Tour de France, from Bandol to Cabourg, from Royan to Ouistreham, from Arcachon to Antibes, which will give eight films, one film broadcasted in each center and on the group’s website.

Sami Sarkis is involved in the foundation of the SNPPDC, the union of professional drone pilots. He was Vice President for two years, and participated in numerous meetings with the DGAC and various governmental authorities concerned by the rapid development of the activity.

Autumn 2015 :

Drone shooting of the fiction film Father, Son Therapy with Richard Berry and Jacques Gamblin in the Verdon gorges. Little by little the drone is making more and more its own cinema, and Drone-Pictures is often called upon by film producers and directors. The problem remains that the cameras carried, the flight time and implementation, as well as the regulatory limits, slow down the irrepressible creativity of the filmmakers. But things will change at the end of 2016!

Winter 2016 :

Drone-Pictures, the first drone operator installed in Marseille, and the second in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, shows its love for this city which leaves no one indifferent, by producing the first opus of Sublime Marseille which will be enthusiastically welcomed by the native Marseillais, as well as by the press which will relay the clip. To this day, the video on Youtube alone has over 45,000 views!

Spring 2016 :

Beginning of a long series of shootings with drones on automobile circuits in the south of France, with for this premiere, the use of the new Inspire 1 for the trial sessions of the 2016 WEC Prologue, sur le circuit mythique de on the mythical circuit of Paul Ricard in Castellet.

Followed in May with the drone shooting of an advertising clip on the roads of Camargue, for Hyraw, a clothing brand from Marseille.

Autumn 2016 :

Another Premiere for the drone operator: filming the cruise vessels at the GPMM, the large harbor of Marseille! And to get this series off to a good start, NBC, the American network will commission Drone-Pictures to capture the arrival at dawn of the Carnival Vista cruise ship, for its TV show, The Voyager. The aerial production company will also make a first overview of its participation in the shooting of international productions, notably for these English, US, German and Japanese television channels: ITV, Channel 4, ARD, NHK, BBC 2, NBC & ZDF.

Winter 2017 :

Release of the Showreel 2016in 4K, an assortment of beautiful images shot in the 4 corners of France, and especially the arrival in the UAV fleet of thefabulous Inspire 2which will mark a turning point in the type of services offered thanks to a highly qualitative rendering of images. The drone operator having immediately bet on the option of Raw/Dng and Apple ProRes codecs available with the new zenmuse X5s with a M4/3 sensor!

Spring/Summer 2017 :

Missions fly by, clients too, like Bangumi for Léa Salamé’s show Stupéfiant au Château La Coste or BMW at the Miramas race track, and the release of the second opus of Sublime Marseille! But the most remarkable achievement of 2017 was, without a doubt, the production of the launch clip for the new CMA-CGM corporate visual.

Fall 2017 :

The year was very rich and it will end on a procession of atypical aerial realization, first for Central Oceans in the harbor of Marseille with the arrival of the MV Sunrise, a submersible cargo ship transporting the Bouygues Travaux Publics caissonier, then for a French feature film by Nils Tavernier, The incroyable story of the factor Cheval, and finally for LDCT/Décathlon for the arrival of the first freight train directly from China in Dourges, North of France. Aerial images that will be used with our agreement by TF1 TV news. Next will be the production of two films for EOLFI, at sea near the Planier Lighthouse, and Oxy-Signalétique, for the installation of the new sign of the Mucem.

December 2017 :

Drone-Pictures becomes the drone correspondent for the South of France, of the new HOsiHO Drone Network,

created in November 2017. The Marseille-based company operates for the network in the following departments: 04, 06, 13, 83, and 84 (i.e. Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Alpes-Maritimes, Bouches-du-Rhône, Vaucluse, Var). The HOsiHO network is composed of experienced drone pilots exclusively selected among the most active contributors of the HOsiHO agency, and distributed in the 4 corners of the hexagon.

Early 2018 :

First service realized in Camargue for Fujifilm, thanks to the new HOsiHO network, and launch of an innovation in April with the aerial giga panoramas by drones!

Spring/Summer 2018 :

The drone services company is now comfortably established in its niche of drone filming in Provence. Programs such as Midi en France on France 3, foreign production companies such as Chrome for the Mazda MX5 convertible advertisement, or the Italian cruise company Costa Croisières with the Food Bank call on Drone-Pictures’ teams, whether for a simple service or the realization of a complete report, with or without additional ground and indoor images

Fall 2018 :

After delivering the film commissioned by the Domaine viticole de la Bégude, Drone-Pictures will attend for the first time as an exhibitor at the SATIS show in Paris with all its fellow drone operators members of the HOsiHO network. The occasion to celebrate the first anniversary of the HOsiHO Drone Network! The year will end with filming for international TV channels, such as NBC at the Château de Tourreau in Sarriansin the Vaucluse, where the team will have to follow a helicopter taking off and leaving the park of the castle,  or in pursuit of the Formula E car of Team Venturion the circuit of the Pôle Mécanique d’Alès in the Gard, for the German automotive supplier ZF. All of these exceptional missions will be featured in the  2018 Showreel of the Marseille-based drone operator.

Winter/Spring 2019 :

It’s the 8th year anniversary of Drone-Pictures and the 5th of theaerial stock collection HOsiHO which launches a new e-commerce platform for online sales of photos and videos taken by drone or helicopter! It is also a very nice meeting with the team of the audiovisual production company Reactive Zone in charge of directing the video of the young singer Angelina, winner of The Voice Kids in 2017.

Summer/Autumn 2019 :

There will be many drone shootings and reports this summer, with Istres for the municipal campaign of a candidate running for mayor of this city, a series of TV shows on TMC, and a sailing regatta in Frioul Island. But the real challenge for Marseille’s drone pilots was the one they took up for the Finnish company Aeromon, which was participating in the Scipper scientific campaign as part of a European research program on pollution from ships at sea.

Winter 2020 :

The world doesn’t know it yet, but a virus will come and disrupt human life on the planet!

But in February 2020, after 45 days of waiting, following strikes by dockers in the port of Marseille, the Drone-Pictures team finally embarked on a 13-meter Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) in pursuit of a supertanker leaving the port of Fos, for Norsepower, a Norwegian manufacturer of rotary sails. A unique experience, worthy of a James Bond movie!

Spring 2020:

France is under lockdown for two months. Marseille too! Drone-Pictures takes the call from the aerial image bank HOsiHO, and starts, on March 17, to film the city during the containment. One month later, the film Silence, Marseille Confine!, was released on the Internet, paying tribute to the caregivers and the people on the front line. It was a great success with more than 120,000 views on all platforms. The images shot throughout these two months will be added to HOsiHO’s special Covid-19 gallery and will be part of a collective film by the members of the HOsiHO Drone Network:  La France en Absence. The Marseille-based drone operator’s Showreel 2019 will be released in May and will kick off the high season of its drone shooting services.

Summer 2020 :

Paradoxically, this summer, in the middle of a pandemic, Drone-Pictures will experience an unusual workload. There will be numerous drone captures for National Geographic, from Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde – closed to tourists and worshippers – to the lavender fields of Sault, from the Millau bridge to the Gorges de la Bourne in the Vercors. At the same time, drone pilots will fly their aircraft at night in Marseille for the french famous band Indochine, and then all over the southern region for The Explorers network TV ! ! The SNCF Réseau will commission the company to fly and stream live by drone during an event it is organizing in Aix-en-Provence train station with NGE.

Autumn 2020 :

After a busy August, September will see the Marseille Drone-team in Manosque for a film on Jean Giono writer, and on the Circuit du Castellet for Ferrari ! The SNCF Réseau will again mission the drone operator for four films shot in the Roya Valley following the damage caused by storm Alex, and on the Côte Bleue for an educational video on the work in progress on this line. The American cruise ship enthusiast, Silver Sea, will order drone photos and videos of its entire fleet moored at the docks of the cruise terminal in the port of Marseille. 2020 will end with the announcement of a significant price drop on the Zenmuse X7 option in 6K Raw available on the Inspire 2.

Winter 2021 :

The beginning of 2021 will be fairly quiet and Drone-Pictures will take the opportunity to launch its new formula called Double Inspire 2 Pack

(a second identical drone is included as a backup, and at no extra cost, in all its services). The 6K will also be on the menu at the beginning of the year, the company having invested in a brand new camera, the BlackMagic BMPCC6K pro, thus completing its 6K Raw drone offer.

Winter and the usual low activity at this season, will be propitious to the preparation of the celebration of its tenth anniversary, with a new visual identity, this new website, and a special 10 Years Anniversary Showreel!

Spring 2021

While France and the world continue to hold its breath in front of the new variants of Covid-19, the drone pilots of Marseille are, more than ever, ready to take off!

A new chapter is breaking for Drone-Pictures. 

A blank one that the company will write with its customers, throughout the next ten years.

Rendez-vous in 2031 for a complete recap of its 20 years of activities!

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