I came very close to getting hold of a pair of Cinestar 8's for video work in Thailand. Very nice RC heli platform with the ability to carry a 2kg payload - that means something like a Canon 5D with a decent lens. You can get up to about 20 mins flight with the Cinestar, i've even seen them carrying Hollywood movie RED camera gear too. The thing that held me back was the remote location for spares and i'm not quite good enough with electronics and a soldering iron, my end is the visual, video and photographic element.
The big problem with operating and running RC heli's in the UK is flight stability due to the weather and also the poor light levels in winter. You need very serious GPS, control, video and gimbal technology (that's the bracket that holds the camera rock steady and level in turbulent flight) plus great pilot skills to get really super smooth images without stepping.
Often the pro teams fly with both a pilot and a camera operator, using a live video ground feed from an independently controlled XYZ axis/focus/zoom DSLR camera. Gets very technical very quickly.
However, most of the new NAV hardware is programmable with "way points" (like car SATNAV) and altitude settings via GPS, so your flight vector is automated over a predetermined time and course. If the RC Heli goes beyond radio contact it will automatically return back to the original take-off co-ordinates. The same goes for low battery situations. An override kicks in to protect your gear. You still need to be pretty au fait with electronics though.
Last time I checked, there were some imminent changes in the law - at some point, may even be now, you'll need to become fully pilot licensed and insured to avoid fines. That in itself is not a big problem (about £500 should cover a pilots licence+ins) but Sun journalists will eventually kill it for everyone with their celebrity snooping flights. Privacy is a concern.
However, smaller rigs are incredibly useful for difficult to access roof inspections such as churches and tall buildings. If anyone is interested in starting out with this tech, i'd recommend the DJI Flamewheel platform with a Go Pro camera and possibly a DJI Wookong gimbal. You WILL crash it so start low cost. Helps if you can solder too. That's the kicker and where the tech is disrupting the industry. Great fun too.
I still think that a pro RC Heli setup can be a great business opportunity for serious chaps though. Don't forget you'll need camera skills and a decent video editing setup and skill when you're shooting with a decent full frame DSLR.
If anyone is interested I can point you towards some of the UK's best guys. Take a look at video from a pro rig, it's really stunning, but images of this quality are at the current limit of the technology. I've shot from full size Heli's and RC's are massively cheaper than a full size, yet £1000 a day is still possible for a top pro RC setup. Compare that to a full size Heli...an absolute bargain.
If anyone would like to invest in this type of business, I might be interested in a partnership....i've got all the high end camera gear and the video editing hardware/software plus the editing skills to make it click. The Cinestar8 platform works out at somewhere between £6-12K a piece depending on spec and you'd need 2 good spec heli's to be taken seriously. That's without the camera gear...
Last Edit: Feb 16, 2014 11:43:30 GMT by Deleted - Back to Top