ISO: Small drone for HQ indoor filming close to people.
February 5, 2018 8:48 AM   Subscribe

I want a small drone, with 1080+ resolution, high bitrate, decent optics, stabilization, smooth navigation, which is safe-ish to operate close to humans. Does this exist?

I basically want a floating 85-100mm lens with stabilization, which can smoothly navigate around people, with good blade protection.

- Higher resolution
- 60fps
- Adjustable iris or full manual exposure control

Icing on the cake would be programmable flight paths, any language.

But I'm not sure this exists.
posted by Jack Karaoke to Technology (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
CNN got an FAA waiver for flight over people using the Snap drone. I don't know if it meets your other requirements, but as far as safe goes, if the FAA approved it I'd guess it's pretty safe.
posted by brentajones at 9:45 AM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

You can put blade guards on a DJI Phantom and it would mostly meet your specs there. There are third-party apps for automating a flight - Litchi seems cool maybe.

The most difficult thing, besides not scaring or injuring your subjects, might be finding a long lens. Stock drone cameras tend to be more wide-angle and cameras on consumer-grade drones often can't be changed out.
posted by adiabatic at 10:05 AM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

In most cases in the USA, it is illegal to fly a drone over a crowd. You are not CNN and you are not going to get a waiver from the FAA.

So please don’t do that. Even if you don’t like the law, don’t do it, if for no other reason than to protect your investment. Because someone may well shoot it down to protect their safety.

If you are shooting people with their express consent indoors, you are likely fine from a legal context, and if you were not planning to shoot public crowds, sorry for the irrelevant response.
posted by SaltySalticid at 10:36 AM on February 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Hmm... how close is 'close to humans'?
posted by Wild_Eep at 10:43 AM on February 5, 2018

The FAA says it doesn't regulate indoor flight (point 4), so you don't need a waiver and it isn't illegal (from the FAA's pov — IANAL and local laws may apply).

I only mentioned the FAA because they granted the waiver for that drone, which means they (and CNN) put some time and effort into making sure CNN flying that drone over people (outside) was safe enough to allow.
posted by brentajones at 10:56 AM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

“Safety” is going to be *very* dependent on how strong your flying skills are. Don’t even think about doing this without serious practice under your belt - that means hours of focused stick time.

You could look into the propellor cages that are being sold for the DJI Mavic. I would assume similar propellor cages will be made for the even smaller new DJI Mavic Air.
posted by faineg at 11:52 AM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

The reviews are mixed on it but the Hover Camera is safe around people and does 4k video.
posted by octothorpe at 2:34 PM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

This is indoor studio videography with express consent.
Close is framing approximately neck to waist. So depends on mix of stabilization and lens.

I have a DJI Phantom 3, with blade guards, but I wouldn't do this particular task without a near-professional pilot, which substantially increases shoot scheduling and pay complications. IMO there's too much energy in the blade rotation, and the guards aren't sufficient for what I want to do in the hands of anyone who can't navigate an obstacle course.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 5:29 PM on February 5, 2018

@octothorpe the Hover camera looks almost perfect. A few more programming options for the flight path, a tighter focal length, and it would be nearly ideal. The form factor is dead-on, thanks for the lead, will look up reviews. Definitely a contender.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 5:35 PM on February 5, 2018

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