Aerial Filming: Shooting from the skies

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Aerial cinematography has its challenges but a great result is worth the regulations and red tape. Susan Reynard chats to the experts.

Aerial Cinematography

Aerial cinematography for companies using drones has been a minefield of late. Stringent legislation from the SA Civil Aviation Authority has grounded many operators, some of whom have exited the remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) industry due to their frustration and others operate illegally.

FC Hamman of FC Hamman Films International has been a fully licensed operator for the past year and has been in the business for 30 years. The company won the South African Society of Cinematographers’ Visual Spectrum Award 2015 for their drone cinematography work, a reflection of their passion and commitment to getting the best shot, within budget and on deadline. His list of clients includes a long list of big local and international brands.

FC says many operators are under the impression that drone pilot licence courses and training result in a legal operating licence. It’s more complicated, costly and time-consuming than this, he explains: “There are five licences you have to get, starting with being a registered proprietary limited company with a remote operating certificate (ROC); company licence through the Department of Transport; licence for the craft you are flying (registration number with the CAA); the pilot must have a remote pilot licence (RPL); and you need to be certified by the CAA as a legal operator.”

The RPAS legislation is not friendly towards young people who are keen to work in this industry but cannot afford it, so it doesn’t stimulate job creation as it should, FC notes. He is sympathetic towards those battling to gain a foothold and says he loves working with and training young talent in the film industry.

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