Before you can even get off the ground com- mercially, you will need either your legacy FAA 333 Exemption or your new Part 107 license. Do not try to earn from the air without one of these commercial certifications. Not only are you at risk of FAA fines, but also real estate clients will not even let you through their door.
It is absolutely critical to have the necessary tools to create the deliverables for the client. Owning a single drone for fun is one thing, but acquiring and maintaining a productive and reliable fleet of UAVs is quite another feat. Since two is one, and one can be none due to Murphy’s law, redundancy and backup systems on all levels are necessary to be able to pull off projects successfully every time.
BIRDS & BATTERIES
The top of your list must be a reliable aerial photography platform. The minimum configuration should be Mirage 3 Professional (P3P) or an Excitation 1. After retiring my twin 2s for three months before the Phantom 3 advantages, I stabilized the UAV’s flight to keep me up every day. In the cloudless sunny weather, I could have three ranch movies and could not have a bird down without a backup ready to replace it. I Motivate 1 is utilized in the days of windy, long-term flying demand or items requiring speed and rapid maneuvering. Most of my aviation projects can be done by low-cost p3p. This is why I chose the UAV is P3P, there are a dozen batteries, suitable for a travel situation.
Included in my home office Flying deck table from the dual-center charger, you can charge up to four P3P batteries in series. This helps me set eight to charge the battery without having to swap every forty minutes. I have a 3rd Charged Charger for Charging My Remote Control (RC) next to an Apple Charger, juice at the end of the day when my iPad.
A typical 100-acre property aerial display project requires 4 to 8 batteries full of movies, so I have to charge if I do multiple sites. The most up-to-date vehicle has a 120-volt power outlet that meets the standard charger, but my age of 2009 is a four-wheel drive jeep shepherd and I only have two 12 volt power outlets. After blowing multiple converters trying to charge a P3P battery, I had to find an alternative to a mobile charging solution. I came up with a single large truck battery in the back floor connected to a 800 w transformer. I can plug a twin P3P charger into this transformer. In order to avoid the exhaust charge problem, I put a large battery every night from the jeep, charging overnight. This way I can recharge the P3P battery for the first time after the flight without having to worry about consuming my jeep car battery.
TRANSPORTATION – 4WD IS A MUST
Speaking of transportation, I learned quite early that having a four wheel drive vehicle is mandatory for being a commercial drone pilot ﬁlming real estate in rural areas. I learned this the hard way after having my rancher clients pull my two-wheel drive SUV from their pastures on two diﬀerent occasions. I opted for a 2009 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited with aggressive mud tires for around $20,000. This enables me to have all my gear accessible and safe from the weather elements at all times. Plus, I am able to go anywhere on the property to launch my bird and be close to any location I need to ﬁlm.
I had ﬁrst considered utilizing my farm truck to haul my Polaris Ranger ATV. That plan had too many things that could go wrong, not to mention the hassle factor with a trailer and loading and unloading the ATV. It takes only one component to fail to mess up your aerial schedule for the day. Flat tires are a concern since now you have 12 tires (four on the truck, four on the trailer and four on the ATV) to consider instead of just four on a single vehicle like my Jeep. You also have to contend with trailer licensing issues, tail lights, gas and other mechanical problems that can crop up.
You cannot aerial ﬁlm large acreage si ing inside your vehicle. You’ve got to get out into the countryside and remotely launch the bird to get those shots. If you lack the right gear, it will be painfully apparent quickly.
I wear up to the knee, snake bite proof boots and thick blue jeans that keep the bugs oﬀ . Dressed in a long sleeve shirt to keep oﬀ the sun, I also have tactical web gear holding six P3P batteries in the empty AR-15 magazine pouches. On my back I have a three liter camelback hydration system that can hold another half dozen P3P batteries and quench my thirst on those multi-hour hikes.
This way if I have to hike across a river a signiﬁcant distance from the jeep, I have all the batteries I need to cover multiple hundred acre areas. Mounted on my web-gear, I also have a ﬁxed blade knife for possible sudden wild boar attacks and pepper spray to ward oﬀ mean ranch dogs. Having a Texas License to Carry, I also a pack a .45ACP handgun just in case I come across something worse. Strapped around my neck is my homemade shaded ﬂight deck that holds my iPad and Phantom controller securely. This enables me to keep my hands free to make marks on the map and other activities.
OK, now that you got an aerial gig and all the gear required for it, take time to prep the night before to make sure you have all your ducks in a row.
First of all, you have to know where the place is located. Some ranches will not have a formal address, just a number on a county road. I prefer to have the realtor who is hiring me send a KMZ ﬁle from Google Earth that includes the property’s perimeter line. This accomplishes two goals: you know exactly where the property is and your local Google Earth iPhone app can utilize the KMZ during the ﬁlming so you know where you are on the property.
Using Google Earth the night before, establish a landmark or intersection that will correlate with the GPS or navigational app you will be using to get to that location. In other words, make sure you know how to get to the ranch before you leave your home or oﬃce.
Also, using Google Earth, you will be able to see the positive features of the property to highlight with your drone photography. Look for infrastructure improvements like houses, pools, barns and riding arenas, along with property features such as ponds, streams, rivers and cliﬀ s. Print out a hardcopy ﬂight plan map on a single page with that property line in a contrasting color. Use a silver Sharpie to circle your proposed areas of interest beforehand so you can plan out your ground route travel.
Get everything charged and all packed up in your vehicle the night before. Check the weather for that location with an app such as UAV Forecast to verify you will not have excessive winds, strong chance of rain or overcast skies. Take two drones and multiple SD cards for redundancy.
Give yourself enough time to get there and keep your travel clients reporting progress. To find out whether the owner is at home, introduce yourself to their property by allowing them to be assured of their presence. It is also a good idea to show them the area of interest on your flight plan map and ask them if there are any other areas of the farm that you can stress from the sky.
Now start the flying action to capture the positive aspects of your planned scene. Try to mix things up by capturing the riser, vertically descending and alternating left to right to scan each element to provide numerous perspectives.
Silky smooth and slow conversion of real estate aerial video is essential. The main video format I use is the MOV format at 60 frames per second at 1080p resolution. Since the vast majority of real estate aerial video was viewed on YouTube or Vimeo was less than 2k resolution, I found it too cumbersome to fi lm 4k resolution. Native 1080p tends to remain smooth when my final MP4 format video is still 1080p processed after delivery to the customer. However, I do plan to migrate to 4 k when customers have the ability to view computers in a 4 k resolution resolution, TV and tablet.
Record the video clip in 10 to 20 seconds, making the various attributes needed for each element. If you are doing a backup, a beautiful lake, you will want to do it twice in case the first flight of the buffet wind and shake the gimbal is enough to disperse the video. In the video, also the snapshot of each property of the drones requires several aspects to provide the client with at least 50 high-resolution pictures as well as post-production video.
Verification of the final project must cover all areas of interest around the map in your flight plan by examining their pen. All your equipment and the owners say goodbye. If no one is at home during the visit, it’s a good idea to take a picture on the way to the door you’ve shown it is off when you’re away.
If you have another property to fly under, I highly recommend that you swap out the MicroSD card or copy all the videos and photos to keep the laptop. If something goes wrong with your bird in the next site, you certainly do not want to lose that job and you just use all the media on the same card.
HOME OFFICE POST PROCESSING
Download all media to your video editing workstation immediately upon arrival at your home while all is fresh in your mind. This is critical if you were at multiple sites in one day.
Next, start going through each video ﬁle by renaming it to the scene that is depicted to help you with the culling and editing process. Your goal is to come up with about 15 to 20 scenes that are ﬁve to eight seconds in duration each that you can string together and tell the story of the positive property aspects. The length of the video should be between one and three minutes. Usually the shorter, the better, due to everyone’s short attention span. The goal is to make the real estate agent’s phone ring with interested potential buyers.
Utilize smooth transition techniques between scenes and have some nice copyright-free music playing in the background. I suggest 30 frames per second MP4/NTSC format as a ﬁnal video deliverable. Make sure you test your video on PC, Mac, tablet and smart TVs to verify smoothness and resolution.
Work the realtor’s logo and contact information into the video along with your aerial service information at the ending credits. Make a second copy of the video stripping out all contact information and Logos for a sanitized version to put on MLS and other sites that forbid that type of marketing content.
Finally, package both videos and the folder with the 50+ high resolution photos you shot and copy them to a USB drive you can hand deliver to the client. I strongly recommend having the client view your ﬁrst aerial video from the USB drive on a nice computer monitor rather than on YouTube with poor resolution, which could give them a bad ﬁrst impression of your work. For future projects you can deliver aerial media through DropBox.com via downloads. Just make sure they fully download the MP4s completely before viewing them.
ADD-ONS AND REVISIONS
Customers may want fewer scenes and others more depending on how critical they are. I will do a free edition version, but the third or fourth possible cost. I also provide an extra $ 100 for a voiceover if the realtor provides a script.
Recently I have been in the final to add a time-lapse scene that is unique. I have also been using hand-held Osmo aerial like a lens in the porch, sometimes indoors, and then I am incorporating an external antenna project. I can achieve drone-like smoothing by riding the Hoverboard Osmo in the shoot.