Take a few moments to explore the many amazing things that filmmakers and photographers are doing with helicam gear. From the filming of extreme skiing and outdoor sports to the almost beautiful (if such a thing can be called beautiful) footage of forest fires, the distance and simultaneous intimacy of shots made with aerial filming equipment are beyond impressive. There is so much that can be done with multi-rotor equipment, good control systems, and a helicam. Names like DJI and other camera makers are becoming more and more familiar within the consumer market.
Clearly, this is why people visit online venues like Heli Video Pros, and the store through which they make the latest quadcopter, multi-rotor, DJI (a top brand), and flying camera equipment available. From experts to amateurs, the possibilities for amazing photography and award winning video footage is obvious, and aerial filming seems to be the topic of many conversations.
Amateurs under Scrutiny
Unfortunately, the newness of this tech makes some people edgy, nervous, or downright hostile rather than intrigued and stimulated. Misunderstandings about privacy, safety, and even the intention of the artists or owners using the gear are already making headlines. There are FAA regulations that apply to such craft, and as long as they are used accordingly, they are not outside of the law.
Earlier this year, a teenager in Connecticut was assaulted by a beachgoer who disliked the youth's use of a quadcopter and helicam array at the public beach. On one hand, it is easy to understand how people might get confused about aerial filming gear. What is it? What is it doing up there? What are they filming? These are common concerns, and the main reasons that a lot of discussion is occurring around their usage.
However, the main point that must never be forgotten is that these cameras are no different than cell phone cameras, and have all of the same rights. The only thing that can be questioned is the use of aerial filming gear such as a helicam in a quadcopter or octocopter - and whether or not it is using airspace in the appropriate way.
The situation in Connecticut is something that is likely to become familiar until the public better understands the use of aerial filming. In this instance, the young man (who has used helicam systems since the age of nine) had been flying his quadcopter and camera up and down the shore (at about fifty feet or higher) in order to record the coastal activity. This was an act that apparently outraged a 23-year old woman nearby. She insisted he was filming women in a dubious way, tried to break the gear, and then attacked the boy.
Fortunately, as a camera enthusiast, he was able to capture almost the entire event on film and show the authorities when they arrived. The boy was not charged, but his attacker is facing a long list of criminal issues. So, it might be said that you can chalk one up for the photographers and helicam experts, but it is also a good illustration of "erring on the side of caution" until the use of a quadcopter and helicam is more familiar to the general public.
The Future for Photographers
The problems witnessed with the use of helicam tech are mostly related to urban areas and public spaces where people may question the appearance of a hovering craft. By no means should an enthusiastic helicam user stop enjoying their hobby. The law will always stand on the side of those using their gear in an appropriate, safe, and respectful manner.
There are lessons to be learned, but one of the major lessons is that photography is not a crime. Whether you are using a high-end DJI Phantom with a multi-rotor frame or you are just beginning to experiment with helicam equipment, you are no different than someone snapping selfies or group shots in the same space with a cell phone.
Just be sure you turn to aerial filming experts for instruction or guidance in the safest ways to use the gear. A site such as Heli Video Pros is a great starting point for such information and safety training opportunities. Having experience and expertise will often help you face such challenges as that teen who admitted he was more worried about his gear than himself! (Carlin, 2014)
Carlin, Sean. Drone at Hammonasset Beach Leads to Viral Video. NHRegister.com. 2014. http://www.nhregister.com/general-news/20140609/drone-at-hammonasset-beach-leads-to-viral-video-assault-charge-for-westbrook-woman