Have you ever seen a movie where the shot begins with a close-up of the actor's face and then suddenly it zooms back and up, finally ending high above, looking down on the actor who is now just a speck in a vast forest?
How did they do that?
Did they use a helicopter? Wouldn’t those swirling blades be dangerously close to the actor’s face? Or maybe they attached the camera to a fancy Hollywood crane. If so, how did they get it up so high, so fast?
What you saw was a drone shot. Today's high-quality drones can hover close to the actor’s face without stirring up wind. Then, in a moment, they can shoot sky high. And with the proper camera, they can yield a shot that is equal to a standard HD movie camera.
Examine Hard-to-Reach Areas with Drones
If drones can work for Hollywood, they can work in construction, too. You’ve probably seen how the marketing types like the beautiful drone footage showing the exterior of the building in the setting sun for their real estate pitches. But on the construction site, drones can be invaluable inspection tools for examining hard to reach and unsafe exterior areas.
Let’s say you have a partially completed, tall building. A huge rainstorm hits one night and the next day someone spots water stains on one of the completed floors. The first question you’ll probably ask: Where’s the leak?
Rather than divert a crew to go look for a bad seam or crack, why not hire a qualified drone operator to search the exterior surfaces for you? As you watch live video streaming from the drone, the operator can command the drone to slowly cover the area. If you spot something that looks suspicious, the drone can move in for a closer look. And suddenly, you see it—a crack in the wall! You can even take a video to send to others for analysis.
You don’t have to be on a giant construction site to use a drone. Residential roofing contractors use drones now to inspect high-pitch roofs rather than risk their necks climbing ladders.
Drones are useful on any construction site where you need a good look, but it’s too dangerous, too costly, or just too time-consuming to send someone to examine it. They can give you the big picture—showing the complete structure from far away - or move in close to bring you the small details.
Soon, drones may even be equipped with infrared scanners to help locate structural stress-points and invisible energy leaks.
Hire the Right Drone Operator
One thing to note about drones is that they are restricted from flying in certain areas. The FAA and Department of Interior have restricted drone flights around several national sites ranging from the Statue of Liberty in New York to the Hoover Dam in Nevada. Municipalities may also have restrictions, so it is best to check before you go buzzing off around the neighborhood.
You can find qualified drone operators online. Just like any other sub, make sure they know what they are doing, have the proper equipment for what you want, and carry the right kinds of insurance. Also, explain exactly what you need and any obstructions or conditions that might affect the drone’s operation—for instance, scaffolding or high winds.
Drones can be an important part of your on-site construction team, but if not handled appropriately they can be dangerous. Before implementing drones on your construction site, make sure you've completed a 30-Hour OSHA safety training