Rent your drone out as a prop
Drones did not used to easy or common place and DroneAbove happened to be one of the only drone websites around. A lobbyist wanted to pass some privacy drone laws in Texas wanted me to fly my QAV500 around the capital. I knew if I got involved I could make sure the voice of aerial photography would be heard. I knew that it was actually very hard to invade someone's privacy with a drone because of wide angle lens distortion and I think his plan backfired. I charged him $1000 for the flying at the capital and then he wanted to rent it as a prop to use around the capital and I charged him another $1000 because the QAV500 looked like a baby transformer. I was really uncomfortable with the publicity and I got a lot of backlash from the drone community because they felt like I was helping the bad guys. I understand why people felt this way but they did not get to see all of lobbying I got to do behind the scenes and the high level people I got to meet and teach about drones and aerial photography. Bottom line, if you have paid the money for a fancy rig, you might be able to rent it out as a prop. Contact local filmmakers and videographers and see if they have any need for high tech props.
Click here to read part 3 / 10 of this series
Take sunrise or sunset picture of iconic or controversial buildings
Taking sunset and sunrise pictures with a drone is a fun challenge but you can also make money doing it if you pick the right subject and you have a way to display your work. I use my blog to write about different shoots I do for fun and I make sure to name the files and caption the images to match what I am shooting. This way, when you search for different things my images show up in google. Try searching for "old maui high" on google images and my pictures come up. I ended up selling non-exclusive rights to these images to a development group and also allowed several newspapers to use the images to raise public awareness about the property. The public outcry over this development is so strong that the project will probably not happen. My pictures got displayed all over Maui and it was cool seeing it on the cover of the local paper.
When the lighting is right, go take drone pictures of important buildings in your area. You might just get an email several months later requesting to licence it. I really like the idea of building up a portfolio of well lighted drone shots of important buildings, locations, and construction sites. The work you put into getting good shots of these can really last a long time. Not only will your drone skills improve as you learn to take lower light pictures with the equipment you have, you will also have content that is potentially timeless.
If you are having a hard time coming up with what to shoot, try thinking about areas that are about to change. Is an iconic building about to be torn down? Is a field in the middle of your city about to be developed? Change can trigger nostalgia and if you took the time to document something before a big change you now own something that someone else can not replicate. Surely you don't need me to remind you that this can be potentially valuable!
The drone film festival is coming up
Interested in improving your drone film skills? Need some inspiration? Time to read up about the Drone Film Festival. The highlight reel below (youtube videos don't seem to show up in email, please click to read this one in a browser) has great aerial drone angles but also throws in pro level editing skills for some truly amazing shots. You easily forget you are watching something filmed only from a drone. Highlight reels show the best few seconds from the best drone pilots. I really like the way they run the film backwards and speed it up, you cover lots of ground and it works great with the upbeat music. I was also intrigued by the use of super nimble FPV race drones (see if you can find the clips I am talking about). Invest 1:30 minutes of your time and watch this introduction. If you have spent much time making your own short drone films you know that 1-2 minutes is the sweet spot. Below the highlight video there is another video featuring the best in show from the 2016 festival. This year the New York City Drone Film Festival will be March 18-19th.
2016 Drone film festival best in show
Afterglow by Sweetgrass Productions won the 2016 Drone Film best in show. When you combine drone shots with an interesting subject you are going to have something nice to look at. There really is no story in this video but the visuals are great. Nothing special from a drone flying perspective, but that can be excused because the camera's they need to fly to capture all of this in low light are probably really heavy so the drone that they used was big. Big drones flying at night on a mountain carrying expensive camera gear is not going to be doing flips and flying under tree limbs. Well done Sweetgrass, I bet this was challenging. Congratulations on your award.