From Top Gear to the imprisonment of entertainer Rolf Harris, drones have been changing the face of the way we make and watch video.
We’ve turned into a nation of amateur drone operators. Why wouldn’t you, when you can pick up a perfectly functional drone from the high street for around a hundred quid. From the beaches of Cornwall to the highlands of Scotland, drones have been flying high this summer, bringing a whole new dimension to holiday photos.
Flying a drone professionally has been mired in the red tape required. Now in the US, the Federal Aviation Administration is issuing new guidelines that relax some of the rules.
The invention of the smart phone camera capable of filming video encouraged the rise of citizen journalist. If the UK follows the US in relaxing the rules for drone flying, there could be a whole new army of amateur news gathers willing to fly with the news.
As a pioneer of changing news habits for the last 35 years, CNN has just announced the creation of CNN Air, a whole new division dedicated to flying drones. Nearly a year and a half in planning, CNN Air puts safety first, but recognizes the importance of drones when it comes to gathering the news and storytelling.
Top Gear and Rolf Harris demonstrate where the drone comes into its own. Firstly, overall storytelling can be improved. With Rolf Harris, a drone followed him and his family from his luxury waterside home in Berkshire, down the Thames to central London, on the last trip he would make as a free man before he was jailed for his sex crimes. Visually stunning, demonstrating the freedom that he would soon give up.
Secondly, as demonstrated in Top Gear, the drone adds to the already high production values. Whether it was Clarkson et al or Chris Evans and the One from Friends, the films made were always a joy to watch. The drone just added another dimension, without the added expense of a helicopter.
The third thing the drone does which is particularly important in news is adds to context and understanding. For example, one drone shot will immediately help the viewer see the real damage caused by flooding. It genuinely lives up to making a picture worth a thousand words.
There will be added ethical issues raised by the use of drones, but CNN Air believes the issues are the same as any way of telling a story. The drone is just a new, fabulous tool in the storytelling toolbox.