FAQ Frequently Asked Questions
Do you rent just the drones?
No, we only offer it as a service, it comes with a Pilot / Videographer, Observer and if appropriate for the drone and application, a camera operator.
Do you work for other production companies?
YES. Getting a drone operator’s license from the FAA to operate commercially is not easy. This is not a widely available skill set. We do contract our services (pilots and drones) to other production companies at industry fees for internal work. We also contract out editing, voice overs, graphics and effects, post production and more.
How hard is it to fly a drone?
Depending on what you do with it, flying is either pretty easy or very difficult. First, to operate commercially, the business and the pilot must have FAA certification. Currently all drone pilots must also be Private Pilots, Sport Pilots, or Commercial Pilots in order to obtain approval from the FAA to operate commercially (drone for hire). Secondly, flying a drone and effectively piloting it for cinematography / videography purposes is a completely different skill set. The second requires knowledge of how to frame and build shots, position the camera and bird, motion and in-air engineering of shot design and much more on top of having good skills as a pilot. Our pilots obviously are great at both piloting and shooting incredible jaw-dropping video sequences.
Can Ascent fly in rain or perform aerial cinematography work on a “wet set?”
No. Presently none of our equipment is designed for operation in rain or similar environments.
How does wind effect your drones?
Wind above 8-10 mph makes it difficult to have steady shots and we do not fly in winds above 12 mph.
What Drones / UAS are you using?
Please see our list of available equipment in the About Us section of the Ascent website.
How long does the battery of the drone / UAS last?
With one battery Ascent Drones can fly about 6 – 20 minutes depending on the drone model, weather, winds, etc. Please see our specific battery time information in our About Us section by drone type. Also, we have several drones / UAS birds that have quick change batteries. Often we can change a battery, power up and be back in the air within 2 minutes or less. We carry multiple batteries for each video drone we fly. Actual battery charge time can take about 3-5 hours each. Keep in mind that time airborne (TA) is the total time including initial run up that the drone is live and rotors are in motion. This includes run up, travel to shot, positioning, shot, and return to land time.
How much it costs to buy such helicopter?
We are not in the business of selling them, but anyone can buy RC Quad, Hexi-copter or Octo-copter for about few thousand dollars or even less for less professional drones. To be able to use it for HD video, true cinematography applications, professional shots and positioning, it takes lots of customizing and literally years of practice! It important to understand that in wrong hands any RC helicopter or drone can be extremely dangerous.
Is it LEGAL to hire you?
YES. We are LEGAL because we have been LICENSED by the FAA specifically for commercial aerial video and data gathering purposes using drones below 400 feet.
Are you insured?
YES. As a legally licensed drone operator, we are able to get liability insurance specifically for low altitude aerial drone video operations as well as our other production operations. Please speak to your producer about any specific insurance requirements you may have.
Is it safe to fly on top of actors / crowd?
Safety goes first. We never fly on top of audience or crowd who are not well briefed and trained for emergency procedures. However as you can see from our several show reels of video, it is usually rather easy to arrange a clear path of flight even on mass audience events to create feeling of being close or on top of the crowd. As professional drone pilots and operators, we evaluate our equipment choices specifically for the type of video production work we are doing. Light weight models with very stable flying characteristics are combined with actor training to assure that we reduce risks to any actors / talent that may be part of the production as well as film crew and other potential bystanders.
Is it safe in general?
We have strict safety procedures and checklists to ensure maximum safety on set, but in the wrong hands or the wrong location or environment any drone and especially larger production Cinematography drones can be very dangerous. And there is always a small change for mechanical or electric failure. That’s why we fly only in a controlled situations. While we perform extensive pre-shoot and pre-flight inspections, shot engineering, run thoroughs, etc., in the end it is up to the pilot to provide a final approval of the flight. If Ascent feels it is unsafe to fly, we don´t fly. Period.
Can you fly inside?
In a large enough space, yes. We have specific UAS / Drone Systems that are very well suited for interior applications.
What is the maximum speed?
About 60 – 80- mph, depending on drone type. See each drone’s specifications in the about us tab.
What is the maximum operating distance for your drones from your pilot?
Pilot has to be able to see the orientation of the drone video platform (UAS unmanned aerial system), so there has to be always uninterrupted line of sight between pilot and the drone ship. The maximum radius is about 300 yards from the pilot. Our birds can also be piloted from a moving vehicle to extend their range, such as for follow and pursuit shots, dolly shots, moving vehicle shots, etc. The radio range for the controls is up to 2km, farther than our ability to see. We do have the ability to fly first person view on some of our drones, however operational limitations are set by the FAA. Call us to discuss your specific production and we will work out exactly what we can and cannot do based on conditions and hardware used.