24 Hours In Los Angeles Timelapse: Interview with Michael Izquierdo from Beverly Hills Aerials

24 Hours In Los Angeles Timelapse: Interview with Michael Izquierdo from Beverly Hills Aerials

24 hours in los angeles drone timelapse interview michael izquierdo beverly hills aerials

I talked with Michael Izquierdo to learn more about his work as a drone operator in his stunning 24 Hours in Los Angeles Drone Timelapse.


Michael Izquierdo is a drone pilot for Beverly Hills Aerials, a fully licensed, insured FAA 333 exempt, part 61 and 107 day/night certificate holding aerial cinematography company based in Beverly Hills, California.

They specialize in filming in closed motion picture and television sets creating dynamic, highly difficult aerial drone shots with superior precision. Their clients portfolio include top brands of the likes of Audi, Nike, and Ralph Lauren Polo and media companies of the likes of The Wall Street Journal, NBC and CBS.

I recently happened to watch one of their video – 24 Hours In Los Angeles Drone Timelapse – which is a great example of their ability.

What I most appreciate about this stunning video, shot entirely in Los Angeles, is that it combines advanced aerial filming skills with local regulation. A shining example of drone operation compliance.

Capturing an urban environment with drones can be tough when dealing with drone regulation and safety requirements, but 24 Hours In Los Angeles Drone Timelapse demonstrates how amazing results and compliance are not mutually exclusive!

“This video is the result of a 3 month drone journey throughout Los Angeles. We used every waking free moment to scout, plan, and shoot a variation of iconic locations and inspiring architecture. We shot approximately 50 different locations and only selected the absolute best shots. Our focus was on precision, speed, proper time of day, and most importantly, safety.”


Questions for Michael Izquierdo:

  1. Tell me a little about your background and how you got into using drones?
  2. What do you like most about being a professional aerial video producer?
  3. The 24 hours in Los Angeles video was awesome in so many ways. Tell me where you got the inspiration for the piece and how it came to fruition?
  4. How big was the team filming in the field for your sequences of 24 hours in Los Angeles, and what roles did they play?
  5. What drones did you use and why? Did you build them or did you use commercial models, and if so did you modify them?
  6. Tell me about the cameras you used to shoot and why you chose them? Did you change cameras for night shooting?
  7. Did you experiment with exposures to get the right look?
  8. You say on some occasions you had to return several times to the same location to get the best shot. Tell me a little about that.
  9. What were your top challenges of drone filming in 24 hours in Los Angeles?
  10. Did you have a specific shot list at a location or was it more opportunistic?
  11. Did you use mixed filming, editing and special effects techniques to get the final version?
  12. What software did you use in post and what was your workflow?
  13. How important is drone regulation and compliance to you?
  14. 24 hours in Los Angeles is shot in a busy urban environment. How did you ensure that you always complied with the regulations when filming for this project? What kind of safety measures did you put in place when shooting?
  15. Did you run into any regulatory problems during filming?
  16. If you were to do another 24 hours project, what city would you choose and why?

1. Tell me a little about your background and how you got into using drones?

I grew up building model airplanes and I remember my dad obtaining his pilot’s license purely for recreational use. He took me on one of his lessons where they practiced stalling and I remember loving it. During the beginning of my drone career, I quickly realized that getting a pilot’s license was mandatory.

Back to questions


2. What do you like most about being a professional aerial video producer?

The fact that my team and I can use our creativity to literally capture never before seen perspectives.

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3. The 24 hours in Los Angeles video was awesome in so many ways. Tell me where you got the inspiration for the piece and how it came to fruition?

Caleb des Cognets, my chief camera operator, and I often plan passion projects. This one was a combination of some of the shots we had been thinking about for years but never executed on.

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4. How big was the team filming in the field for your sequences of 24 hours in Los Angeles, and what roles did they play?
We were at least 3 people: a drone pilot, a camera operator, and one or more spotters.

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5. What drones did you use and why? Did you build them or did you use commercial models, and if so did you modify them?

We used an Inspire 2 which is without a doubt the best ready to fly drone you can buy with the most high-speed precision.

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6. Tell me about the cameras you used to shoot and why you chose them? Did you change cameras for night shooting?

We used the x5s which is DJI’s built in camera on the Inspire. We did not change cameras for night shooting but we did change between 12,15, 25 and 45mm lenses.

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7. Did you experiment with exposures to get the right look?

Oh yeah, the exposure experimenting was a really fun game, especially for the time lapse clips. Most time lapses would run through an entire battery. We sometimes came home with nothing but terrible and in our opinion unusable footage.

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8. You say on some occasions you had to return several times to the same location to get the best shot. Tell me a little about that.

Flying through the CAA (Creative Artists Agency) building was literally a drone dream of mine for years. I live down the street and always drove by. After finally getting our Century City delta airspace waiver approved we drove by to shoot it one evening around sunset. The roads were packed with cars and filled with people. After a quick conversation ending in the realization there was no way we could hold the pedestrian traffic safely, we put it off.

We returned, I don’t even remember how many more times, only to leave without flying. One Sunday morning which coincided with some sort of holiday I can’t remember which one, Caleb pushed me to go back. I had pretty much given up on the ability to do it safely with no people around. We got there around 6am and there was literally not a car or person in sight. It was beautiful. I flew through it twice at full throttle in attitude mode which resulted in one of the shots you saw in the video.

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9. What were your top challenges of drone filming in 24 hours in Los Angeles?

Navigating the FAA waiver approval process for up to 6 months in order to obtain the waivers for spots such as the Hollywood sign, Beverly Hills sign, CAA building, NBC Universal.

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10. Did you have a specific shot list at a location or was it more opportunistic?

The majority of it was opportunistic. We returned to a few locations after seeing the footage we shot and wanting to do it a little better. We would go back there to get it perfect.

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11. Did you use mixed filming, editing and special effects techniques to get the final version?

We did not use any special effects. Caleb and I both edited. No clips were sped up. Caleb color corrected all the shots.

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12. What software did you use in post and what was your workflow?

We color corrected in (Adobe) Premiere and edited the footage in Final Cut.

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13. How important is drone regulation and compliance to you?

Incredibly important. I’m one of the first guys to have got a 333 exemption and pilot license. Now, all you need is a part 107. I feel that, before, with the stricter requirements, it helped to maintain a certain level of professionalism with the drone pilots. Now, someone can buy a Phantom and has an aerial business the next day.

A good example of our respect for the regulations and compliance that I remember is when we discussed openly the Hollywood sign shot and everyone kept telling us to just do it because it’s been shot by drones a million times before. But we waited until we got the waiver, and literally shot it the day after we got our waiver. It literally changed nothing about how we did the job other than the fact we did it the right way with FAA approval.

Back to questions


14. 24 hours in Los Angeles is shot in a busy urban environment. How did you ensure that you always complied with the regulations when filming for this project? What kind of safety measures did you put in place when shooting?

We planned most our locations in G airspace (i.e. below 14,500 feet) which requires no additional waiver. We made sure we could see the entire environment well. We never flew over any people and sometimes used spotters to monitor the road we were flying over and tell us when it was clear. We also monitored radio frequencies in order to hear what was going on in the sky. We held and/or ruined a lot of shots when we saw/heard low-flying helicopters.

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15. Did you run into any regulatory problems during filming?

One day a police officer approached us and we weren’t sure what he was going to say. But he ended up asking us to take a picture of him with our drone!

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16. If you were to do another 24 hours project, what city would you choose and why?

We have this written on our dry erase board in the office… We are not sure but we have discussed San Francisco and San Diego. Possibly international… We really need help figuring that part out, if you have a good suggestion. Please do share.

Back to questions


Thanks for the interview Michael and you are always welcome here in Dublin – although I can’t guarantee the weather 🙂

Follow Michael Izquierdo and Beverly Hills Aerials:

Be Compliant, Drone Fines Are On The Rise!

Be Compliant, Drone Fines Are On The Rise!

Drone pilots have to comply because drone fines are on the rise

Looking at the increase in the number of drone fines charged against illegal behavior by aviation authorities over the world, I see an emerging trend: more and more authorities are starting to prosecute unlawful drone operations.


While this is good news, many in the industry – as well as myself – feel that the authorities have been slow in enforcing. Why is that?

Well, most of the focus of the regulators to date has been on defining the legal framework of this new industry. How can you enforce if you don’t have a clear set of rules in place first?

Drones represent a revolutionary technology which is booming and being adopted across several verticals with new uses discovered almost every day. While the technology is ready and progresses at an amazing pace, regulators are chasing rather than anticipating this changing industry 

The problem was (and still is), setting the rules isn’t an easy task.

Even in countries where considerable efforts have been made so far in building a legal framework for safely integrating drones into airspace, regulators had to conciliate two different interests – sometimes conflicting: promoting safety and compliance and supporting the needs of the fast-growing drone industry.

Another factor complicating the regulatory efforts is that increased drone use raises several issues from a legal perspective.

Operating a drone involves different areas of law: privacy law, tort law, insurance law, civil aviation regulations, in particular, safety for people and manned aircraft.  On top of that, privacy is a trending topic in the past few months. 

The complexity of this task increases in countries where multiple authorities have input and control over some of the legal aspects related to hobbyist and commercial flying.

For example, in the U.S., a confusing crossover of federal, state and local regulations – the so-called patchwork quilt – is negatively impacting the industry’s development and the capacity of the authorities to focus on enforcement, as a recent research by the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College highlights. One of their key insights was that in several cases local drone laws contravene the FAA’s drone rules, resulting in legal conflicts.

Crossing the ocean, while the European Commission has started to draft a blueprint of a legal framework for operating drones, individual  EU member states still have the total decision-making power over drone regulations and legal prosecutions. While the Commission has put a lot of effort recently to standardize drone rules, analysts expect areas of conflict between the European framework and the state and local laws to emerge.

Another problem the aviation authorities have been struggling to deal with is the lack of resources specifically dedicated to managing drone registrations, complaints and reports of illegal or reckless operations.

Despite these difficulties, during the last couple of years, several countries managed to put a drone regulatory framework in place, and are switching their attention from setting the rules to enforcing them.

Moreover, drone regulation is not the concern of drone operators only. Their clients are requiring compliance as well to protect their own brands.

Content buyers have begun to understand that drone content must be acquired legally – like any other type of content such as music – if they don’t want to face the risks associated with illegal operations.

In some countries, regulators are enforcing on the buyers’ side too. For example, in the US, if you hire a drone operator who doesn’t hold a Part 107 allowing commercial operations, you could be facing federal charges as well.

If you are curious to read about some of the most significant cases involving prosecution for non-compliance, I compiled a list of 15 interesting drone fines from around the world, showing the increasing prosecution trend.

So whether you’re a drone operator looking to monetize your drone in a compliant way or whether you’re an aerial content buyer looking for legally acquired content, the website, droneregulations.info,  provides a straightforward overview of regulation by country. UAV Coach also offers an updated list of drone laws and regulations by country, making it impossible to feign ignorance of the rules.

15 Drone Fines From Around The World

15 Drone Fines From Around The World

15 drone fines from all around the world

The number of drone fines issued by aviation authorities is increasing. Read about the most significant cases of prosecutions involving unlawful drone operations.


I see an emerging trend: more and more authorities are starting to prosecute unlawful drone operations.

Let’s check 15 significant cases of drone operators’ prosecution, giving a little insight into what it means to be non-compliant with local drone regulations.

Significant Legal Drone Cases by Country

Drone fines by country:


USA

The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) is presently in charge of drone regulation at the federal level in the U.S. (even if things might change considerably under Trump’s administration) but states and local government entities also have the authority to pass local laws in their jurisdiction.

According to Motherboard, the FAA had fined 24 drone pilots up to June 2016.

“Given that more than a million drones have been sold in the U.S., the fact that only two dozen fines have been levied is surprising and likely reflects the FAA’s lack of resources, rather than a lack of desire.”

said Craig Thompson, a Dallas-based aerial photographer, when asked about this data by drone regulation expert Jonathan Rupprecht who agreed and added:

“As time goes on, we can expect to see many more of these enforcement actions to be more fully prosecuted.”

It’s interesting to note that even where enforcement efforts have been put in place, FAA’s focus up to 2016 has been on punishing reckless behaviours, rather than illegal commercial operations, as the 2016 Motherboard analysis of the 24 prosecutions found out.

Lawyer Loretta Alkalay, who was in charge of the FAA’s legal operations for the eastern region for more than 20 years, has her opinion on why the FAA didn’t prosecute illegal commercial drone operations much until 2016:

“I think it’s pretty obvious the FAA doesn’t think it can win a case on this whole commercial issue, which is why they haven’t really pushed it.”

Let’s check a few significant drone fines in the U.S.

SkyPan – $200,000

This is the largest of all drone fines ever issued by the FAA to date. The initially proposed fine in October 2015 to SkyPan International, Inc., of Chicago, amounted to an impressive $1.9 million for conducting 43 illegal drone flights in congested airspace over Chicago and New York City between 2012 and 2014.

SkyPan was further accused of operating 65 aircraft without proper communication tools and without receiving an airworthiness certificate and registration.

The company eventually settled with the FAA in January 2017 for $200,000.

Besides the $200,000 civil penalty the company also agreed to pay an additional $150,000 if it violates federal aviation regulations again in the next year, and $150,000 more if it fails to comply with the terms of the settlement agreement.

Mical Caterina – $55,000

What drone pilot Caterina considered a hobby has landed him in trouble with the FAA, which in 2016 levied $55,000 in fines against him for violating five aviation regulations.

The FAA claims Caterina flew his drone for commercial use at an event in August 2015, though the Minnesota man has never charged anyone for his aerial photography and contends he’s only honing his skills.

“If you’re a recreational or hobby flyer and don’t know where the divider is between commercial and recreational activity, you’re likely to engage in neither if you know the FAA can come after you after the fact. Since the FAA has failed to provide a clear and adequate definition of what these entail, the risk is real and costly.”

said Jason Snead, a FAA policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation.

Xizmo Media Productions – $5,000

Xizmo Media, a New York video production company, was hired by Fordham University to shoot footage of its 2015 commencement ceremony.

The FAA fined Xizmo because its drone wasn’t registered, flew in a reckless manner, and also pulled out several other regulations that are normally used for manned aircraft. Xizmo eventually settled with the FAA for $5,000.

Paul Skinner – $500 & 30 days in jail

The first custodial sentence was given to a Paul Skinner, a professional Seattle aerial photographer, whose out of control drone knocked a woman unconscious at a parade in 2015.


UK

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is in charge of UAS regulation in the United Kingdom.

The CAA has been actively enforcing drone regulations, with a focus on punishing both professionals using drones for commercial purposes without being licensed, and reckless operations.

Nigel Wilson – £1,800

Drone enthusiast Nigel Wilson admitted nine breaches of drone regulations for illegally flying his drone over football stadiums across England and over buildings in central London where he had no direct sight of the aircraft. He also flew his drone within 50 meters of several buildings. All these acts are offences under the 2009 Air Navigation Order.

His videos on YouTube showed views from heights of at least 100 meters of Premier League, Champions League and Championship football matches.  Other videos showed views of Big Ben from close range, the Queen Victoria Memorial next to Buckingham Palace, HMS Belfast at its mooring on the Thames and the Shard, Europe’s tallest skyscraper, all accompanied by a dramatic soundtrack.

Filmmaker Richard Brunner – £1,125

Richard was fined £1,125 in October 2015 for illegally flying his drone over Hyde Park without permission during a shoot for a promotional video. The drone flew in controlled airspaces without consent from the Civil Aviation Authority. He was also charged for flying the drone 10 metres away from traffic and pedestrians.

Mark Spencer – £300

On 9 November 2013, staff at Alton Towers Resort observed a quadcopter flying over the X Sector of the resort. Mark later posted video clips on YouTube which showed that he had launched the quadcopter some way from the resort, beyond visual line of sight.

Stafford Magistrates’ Court convicted him for not maintaining direct visual contact with his drone and flying within 150 metres of a congested area.


Canada

Transport Canada is the institution for regulating drones in Canada. Have a look at the latest documentation published on drone laws as changes have been applied recently, especially for hobby pilots.

Transport Canada launched a record 118 investigations into the illegal use of UAVs in 2016, 16 of which resulted in drone fines. That’s more than three times the number of fines issued in 2015.

Moves Media – $5,000

Moves Media Ltd., a Vancouver video production company, was fined $5,000 for operating a drone contrary to its Special Flight Operations Certificate issued by Transport Canada.

This case depicts well how navigating through all the legal authorizations required to perform your job can be painful but both mandatory and necessary.

Julien Gramigna – $1000

Julien Gramigna, photographer and co-founder of the company VuDuCiel, was fined $1,000 by Transport Canada in December 2014. The fine claims the use of a drone to take photos of a house for a real estate agent without proper federal permit.


Australia

Australian drone laws are established by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). Drone regulation for both recreational and commercial use are extensively explained on their website. The CASA has started to prosecute illegal behavior of drone pilots seriously in the last few months.

For instance, a person was fined $1440 AUD for flying a drone in Sydney Harbour, which is a restricted airspace, while another person was fined $900 AUD for flying a drone above a children’s Easter egg hunt in Canberra.

Wedding guest – $900

TV presenter Sylvia Jeffreys and her journalist partner Peter Stefanovic thought it would be a good idea to ask one of their friends to catch images of them popping champagne at their wedding using a drone.

Their friend now faces a $900 AUD fine for “hazardous flying at and near guests” after the drone footage uploaded on Instagram got CASA’s attention. CASA’s director, Shane Carmody, made no apology for the fine.

“The rules protect people, property and aircraft from drones,” Mr Carmody said.

Queensland pilot – $850

An Australian recreational drone owner was fined $850 AUD by the CASA after uploading numerous illegal drone videos on YouTube.

“While each individual breach was not major in itself, the number of breaches has caused me concern”,

said the CASA investigator.

Each of his uploaded clips could have been charged between $850 and $8,000 AUD. The $850 fine was large enough to scare the flights out of this pilot as the drone in question quickly appeared for sale online.

University Student – $900

A university student has copped a $900 AUD fine for flying a drone close to a police helicopter conducting a rescue operation in the New South Wales Blue Mountains.

The drone then crashed into a tree on a private home.


France

France is a worldwide pioneer in UAV regulation, having adopted civilian drone legislation in the spring of 2012.

Since the legislation went into effect in 2012, around 30 legal cases involving drones have given way to criminal punishment by the French Aviation Administration.

Almost all of the offenders were slapped with small drone fines, but one person earned a one-year suspended prison sentence. In this case, he had flown a civilian drone dangerously close to a helicopter.

Tristan Redman – €1,000

British reporter Tristan Redman was charged a €1,000 drone fine in February 2015 by Paris Court for flying a drone several times over central Paris. The journalist, who was compiling a piece for Al-Jazeera news, also had his drone confiscated.


The Netherlands

The Ministerie van Infrastructuur and Milieu handles drone regulation in the Netherlands. Documentation in English about drone rules in practice can be found here.

Dutch Violinist André Rieu – €8000

André Rieu, the famous Dutch violinist and conductor best known for creating the waltz-playing Johann Strauss Orchestra, was fined for flying a drone filming a performance on the Vrijthof in Maastricht.

The drone was flown above the city center (which is forbidden by current Netherlands drone regulation), at night, in a CTR zone (Maastricht has a busy regional airport), in close proximity to the 12,000 people attending the concert, and without a permit.

The amount of the fine was not divulged but the Dutch newspaper De Limburger estimates it around €8,000, the largest fine for illegal drone operations given by the Netherlands authorities to date.


China

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) is in charge of regulating UAS in China. Since May 2017 Chinese drone operators in China have to register under their real name with the CAAC.

UAV Sci-Tech CoPilot – 18 months in jail

In 2015, a staff member from Beijing UAV Sci-Tech Co, was sentenced to 18 months in jail by the CAAC after a drone from the company disrupted commercial flights.


In conclusion, this list of drone fines highlights that drone fines are a serious deal and it’s more important than ever to be compliant with local and federal laws.