Learn The 3 Biggest Reasons You Should NOT Be Hiring Cheap, Non-Certified Drone Pilots

(Yes, this might include your buddy - or spouse! - who flies their drone mostly for fun. But the fun can end real quick...read the article here.)

We've helped agents from the following companies improve their aerial photos and video:

Are You Actually Getting Good Drone Footage?

The Gear You Use DOES Make A Difference

Sample Footage From A Listing Near Olympia, WA

Why Choose T212 Media?

Exceptional Aerial Footage

Stand Out From The Crowd

We invest in cutting edge drones and cameras (like those used in Hollywood productions), experienced pilots and extra post production techniques to ensure high quality results that stand out from consumer drone work.

Safe Drone Flying
Professional and Experienced Pilots

We've Got Your Back

You're a professional. And that means your business is too valuable to risk hiring a company that flies without insurance or employs non-certified pilots who may fly in controlled airspace without permission and potentially exposing you to liability. Our pilots are Part 107 certified by the FAA and our drones are fully insured. We also follow all FAA requirements regarding waivers and authorizations in controlled airspace.

Affordable Pricing

Don't Break The Bank

We never skimp on the drone work we provide. Every shoot goes through the same rigorous planning and on-location process. We make sure we get every shot you'll need to brilliantly showcase your property. You can then choose the deliverable that's right for you, from the unedited files to full post-production.

What You Get

We understand that presentation matters in real estate. We work with you to provide the best possible images and video of your properties so that you stand out from the competition as the trusted source for real estate listings.
Premium Video and Images

The media you use to promote your properties reflects on you. We use the best-in-class equipment and methods to produce stunning, beautiful images of each property.

Editing

We have invested countless hours in post-production methods that get the most out of your footage and images. We refine and tailor the raw footage or stills to specifically suit your needs and to best showcase the property layout.

Custom Media Deliverables

Although our process for shooting each location is largely the same from shoot to shoot, you may have different needs for your end product. We can create faster workflows with simpler media or more advanced productions across various platforms.

"The Inspire 2 platform may be the safest way to put a camera in the air today. And coupled with the X7 camera system, it provides best-in-class cinema quality video and photos."

The T212 Difference

Every property we film gets the maximum attention to detail with rigorous planning and execution. We follow the same process for every location so you don't have to worry about us skimping on footage or images. See a few examples below:

2018 Showreel

Mountain Retreat In Cle Elum, WA

Photo Shoot In Bonney Lake, WA

*Important Information! Drone imaging services are provided at the discretion of T212Media. Depending on weather conditions, local regulations, nearby obstacles,  and airport control tower approval we reserve the right to re-schedule or defer each project. Standard turnaround is 2 days from the time of the shoot. If you require files faster, a rush fee may be applied. Additional travel fees may apply depending on proximity to our pilots.

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Professional vs Amateur - Why Does It Matter?

Many real estate agents are using their own personal drones to photograph and film their properties. Or they hire a part-time amateur to do it. And still others choose a professional ground photographer to shoot their aerial video and stills in addition to interior photos. Below we explore the pros and cons of choosing amateurs vs professionals for your aerial images.

 

Amateur vs Professional Drone Pilots for Real Estate

#1 - What happens when something goes wrong?

We put this first because it's the most important. Drone laws can be confusing. Knowing when and how to request permission to fly in controlled airspace, registering your drone, etc... can sometimes be a hassle and the FAA is still refining it's regulations as it figures out how to fit drones into the current airspace grid.

But one thing is clear: If you fly a drone for commercial purposes, you must be "Part 107 certified".

Is the pilot FAA certified?

Many amateur pilots disregard commercial drone regulations because they pretend to be operating as "recreational pilots". In real estate, this typically looks like a ground photographer who shows up to shoot the house and then pulls out a drone to snap a few quick aerial shots. The job is usually done quick enough that any violations are never reported and real estate agents typically don't ask any other questions. The photos are delivered and everyone is happy, right?

Well, maybe not. Check out this story about what can happen when things go wrong: Drone Crash In Seattle

(Note: This article references the 333 registration process, which now has been revised to the Part 107 certification as it relates to the scope of this article)

A drone operator who is using their drone for commercial purposes but has not become Part 107 certified and is pretending to operate as a recreational pilot is taking some serious risks.

Is the drone even registered?

Not only is every drone obligated to have a registration number (so someone can track down the owner if the drone is lost or crashes), but the FAA is debating whether to require all pilots to display those registration numbers on the outside of their aircraft. That means a neighbor with a pair of binoculars could identify that amatuer drone while it is flying and then call the FAA to report any potential violations.

Who would be liable for any violations or damages under these circumstances? As far as we can tell, there's not a lot of precendent for that type of case, so the answer is that no one really knows for sure. But is that worth the risk of hiring an amatuer?

Is your pilot getting insurance for every flight?

Another consideration is insurance. I don't know of any amateur pilots that get insurance for every job they do. Most seem to think that "It's just a quick job, I'll get up and down in ten minutes so it's not worth purchasing insurance." But what if a sudden gust of wind comes up and that drone gets pushed through the front window of the property? How much are damages, who is liable... and could the property owner sue you or the pilot?

Bottom line: Make sure your pilot has registered their drone with the FAA. Make sure your pilot is Part 107 certified. Make sure your pilot is getting insurance for every flight. Make sure your pilot has checked out the location on a sectional chart and is aware of any potential dangers.

Amateur vs Professional Drone Pilots for Real Estate-2

 

#2 Amateur pilots tend to be less experienced than professionals

This may seem like a small point, but it actually makes a big difference in a lot of ways. How they maintain and set up their drone and related equipment makes a HUGE difference, but we’ll save that for the next point.

Dealing with potential hazards

Operationally speaking, a professional pilot will be better equipped to handle tight spaces (like you find with many residential real estate shoots), deal with changing weather conditions, spot and address potential hazards (like power lines and trees) and generally fly smoother and safer.

Treating each property as unique

Every property is different. An experienced pilot will not only have a list of standard shots that they get at every house, but they will also know how to tweak those shots to bring out the best in that particular property.

Specialist vs Generalist

To get high quality aerial imagery, especially video, takes a lot of practice. Those who specialize in ground photography and offer drone services as an add-on package may have a harder time delivering the same type of quality, because it’s not their core business. Introducing a drone into your photography takes some getting used to, and many amateur or generalist pilots miss important details for getting the best product possible.

Bottom line: Make sure your pilot has the experience and knowledge to deliver high-quality results consistently and safely.

Inspire 2 Drone

#3 Gear DOES Make A Difference

Right now, the tech company DJI is dominating the drone market. That means that both amateur and professional pilots are typically flying a DJI product. But that doesn’t mean that all DJI products are the same. Just like Ford offers cars and trucks from the low-end all the way to high-end premium models, drone companies have many different options; not only for the drone itself but for the camera and gimbal that attaches to the drone.

Using A Professional Drone Instead Of A Consumer Drone

The most common drones we see used in real estate marketing today are the Mavic Pro, Mavic Air, Phantom 4 and Inspire 2. While all of these drones deliver “4K quality” images and video, the actual results are widely different.

Here's what you need to know about the DJI Inspire 2 drone with the Zenmuse X7 camera and gimbal system that we use:

  • Battery redundancy (safer)
  • Pro Res and RAW recording (additional high quality video licenses we purchased - this drone has been used in Netflix and major motion picture productions!)
  • Latest and best color and image processing system (better color reproduction, especially on bright, sunny days)
  • 2 frequencies (safer)
  • Forward and downward and upward obstacle sensors (safer)
  • Powerful tracking modes (easier to get more complicated and consistent shots)
  • Intelligent flight modes (more configurations)
  • Smart return to home (safer)
  • Highest quality video transmission system (better real-time monitoring)
  • Powerful and intuitive flight performance (better handling in the air and safer)
  • Increased reliability (safer)

And the list goes on…you get the idea…

Maintinence and checklists

Wow, that sounds boring.

Jjust like any other aircraft, drones require regular inspection and maintenance. Although it would be silly to compare the risk involved with putting a passenger airliner up in the air with a small drone, you still wouldn’t expect anyone to put anything in the air without performing regular maintenance and safety checks, right?

We inspect our equipment before every flight and perform regularly scheduled maintinence. We also keep logs of every flight complete with checklists, flight time and battery cycles. We also invest in cases that transport our gear safely so that it's not damaged during transit. We install firmware updates regularly, have backup equipment, etc…

Getting the most out of your drone

This is a big one.

Most pilots who don’t fly on a regular basis, and even many who do, have not taken the time to get the most out of their drone. There are a myriad of settings, including ISO, shutter speed, white balance, aperture, framerates, codecs, field of view options, lens choices, color profiles and more that should all be optimized on every job.

And we haven’t even touched on editing those files before they get to the agent. If your pilot flies their drone with settings straight out of the box, they aren’t getting as much out of their drone as they could.

Bottom line: Make sure that your pilot is getting you high quality results, is performing regular maintenance and inspection on their gear, and is using it to it’s greatest potential. Otherwise, you might be missing out.


 

Hopefully this gives you a good starting point for evaluating the drone services you are receiving. We would love the opportunity to shoot a property for you and show you how good your real estate aerial images can look! Contact us today with any questions or to schedule a shoot.