Helicopter vs. Drones: Aerial Film Production

Drones have recently added a new tool for aerial filming that has caught the attention of both pros and amateurs alike. Although drones literally put the flight controls in your hands, it’s important to remember that they may not be all that meets the eye. The truth is that there are often times when the old methods far outweigh the latest gadgets for filming. As you plan your next filming session, consider these differences between helicopters and drones to determine which one best fits your goals for filming.

Range and Battery Life

Drones are getting better batteries that allow them to travel further all the time, but they still cannot beat a helicopter’s capabilities. In most cases, drones can only travel for a few minutes on a single battery charge, and they are limited by the FAA to only reaching heights of 400 feet or lower in most cases. On the other hand, you can schedule a private helicopter charter tour that allows you to have more than enough time to capture all the footage you want at a higher elevation. You can also plan your helicopter tour to take you over specific areas that you need in your film so that you get that optimum point of view.

Ability to Handle the Camera Equipment

Amateurs often don’t mind using drones that work with their phone cameras or other lower quality recording equipment. However, any professional filming requires an airplane that can handle the size and the weight of the equipment. If you plan to do serious filming during an on air tour, just let us know ahead of time so that you can pick a package with enough room for all of your gear.

General Safety and Liability

At first glance, it would seem like drones are safer than helicopters since you never have to leave the ground. However, drone operators are required to comply with laws set forth by the federal government as well as certain local cities and municipalities. If you chose to use a drone for aerial photography, you are also liable for damage to any property or injuries to people that are caused by your drone. Unfortunately, some accidents are hard to prevent when you have limited visibility of your craft from the ground. When you film from a helicopter, the pilot is the one responsible for maintaining the safety of everyone on board. This allows you more creative freedom as you focus on refining your helicopter filming techniques.

After seeing hundreds of hours of footage from people’s aerial tours, we may be biased. However, there is just no way to deny that the benefits of filming from a helicopter far outweigh anything that could be done from a drone. Whether you need that perfect look down shot or time lapse sequence of New York City, you can capture it all while enjoying one of the best views of the city around.