How to Choose a Drone Operator for Your Next Video Project

Drone operator Sean McVeigh flying a drone at URI

Drone footage can take your video projects to the next level with swooping overhead shots or breathtaking perspectives. But drones don’t fly themselves. The drone operator you choose could either elevate your footage in new and exciting ways — or, create a headache that lingers long after post-production. So, needless to say, choosing the right licensed drone pilot is crucial.

If you've never worked with a commercial drone operator before, you might not know where to begin your search. But don’t worry. Here’s a quick guide to help you choose the best drone operator for your next video project.

Verify Drone Operator Credentials

First, you’ll need to know that your Rhode Island drone operator has the right credentials to do the job.

Unlike hobbyist drone pilots, commercial drone operators need a Remote Pilot Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Drone operators also have to renew their licenses every two years, so make sure their FAA drone license is fully up-to-date.

Ensure The Drone Operator Knows The Law

Beyond being a licensed drone operator, the drone pilot you choose should also be familiar with drone flying rules and no-fly zones in your area.

Drone laws by state, typically vary, however, Rhode Island drone laws state, some drone actions will need a waiver to complete — such as flying near airports or flying over people. Rhode Island drone laws can also vary by city or jurisdiction. For example, Narraganset prohibits flying drones over the town beach during beach season.

Check Out Their Drone Equipment

Knowing how to fly is only half the battle. Your drone operator should understand the standards required for professional film production — and have equipment that can capture quality footage.

Look for drone operators with a fleet of multiple drones that can film cinematic shots from a variety of different angles. Don’t worry if you can’t tell a propeller from an accelerometer.

If you’re unfamiliar with drone brands or terminology, try asking your drone operator to explain the specs on their fleet. They should be knowledgable about their equipment and able to discuss its advantages for different film projects.

Make Sure They Have Drone Insurance

Even the most experienced drone operators can have mishaps now and then. In the event that things go wrong during filming, your drone operator should carry insurance to cover any damages or injuries resulting from a drone crash.

While drone insurance isn’t strictly required by the FAA, it can protect you and your production from liability and give you peace of mind. So, ask to see a drone pilot’s certificate of insurance before takeoff.

Know Your Needs

Beyond simply being qualified to fly a drone, you’ll also want a drone operator who’s familiar with projects in your particular niche.

For example, a drone operator specializing in real estate drone photography might not be the best choice for your cinematic music video. On the other hand, plenty of drone operators work on a wide variety of filming projects — which can give them versatility and experience.

Take a look at the drone operator’s past projects to see if any are similar to yours. That way, you’ll know if they can bring your vision to life.

Look For Drone Operation Experience

They say the source of knowledge is experience. And naturally, the drone operator you choose should have plenty of experience not just with flying, but with running and operating a professional business.

Look for drone operators with an established industry presence and testimonials from other clients. If they have a proven track record, you can feel more at ease trusting them with your project.

Consider Their Creativity

Flying a drone for video projects is about more than just knowing how to program a flight path.

A drone operator should be able to think creatively and problem-solve difficult shots. Their goal is to capture unique and visually stunning footage that ultimately helps tell your story. So, a passion for both flight and film is a must.

When vetting drone operators, try asking them about solutions they found for particularly difficult shots on other jobs. Then, you’ll know if they’re up to the challenge.

Look For Multitaskers

As a bonus, look for drone operators that are multitaskers and offer additional services — like editing and video production services or even video marketing.

By bundling services, you could potentially save money and time by using a single company instead of hiring multiple contractors. And you’ll have a dedicated partner who can help transform your raw drone footage into a finished project.

Need Drone Photography In Rhode Island?

If you’re looking for a Rhode Island drone operator, McVeigh Media is ready for takeoff.

With over 25 years of experience in the video production industry, drone pilot Sean McVeigh has a proven track record for filming and producing video content in a variety of industries. He’s created content for iconic brands like Apple, GE, AAA, Jaguar USA, and major TV networks like NBC and ESPN.

His vast experience and state-of-the-art drones can capture breathtaking footage that takes your next video project to new heights. He can also help you finish your project with end-to-video production, or even market it with digital advertising strategies. Peerspace recently selected Sean as the best drone videographer in Rhode Island!

If you’re ready to work with a drone operator who goes above and beyond, contact us today to learn how we can elevate your next project with our drone services.

Posted by Sean McVeigh
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Sean McVeigh is an award-winning filmmaker and producer with over 25 years of experience. Sean’s work as a cinematographer and editor has been viewed on many of the major TV networks including NBC, ESPN, and the BBC. He has also worked with iconic brands like Apple, GE, Jaguar, Amtrak, US National Parks Services, and AAA.