Flying cameras, often referred to as drones in popular culture, are all the rage nowadays and intensely newsworthy. On Thursday, it was widely reported that the FAA is investigating a wedding video that was shot at a U.S. congressman’s wedding because it potentially defied the agency’s unclear policy regarding drones.
ANIMAL spoke briefly by phone to Parker Gyokeres, the photographer and drone operator from New Jersey-based company Propellerheads Aerial who was contracted by the wedding photographer Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) hired to shoot footage of his wedding. He didn’t want to specifically comment on the incident, since he’s currently being investigated, but did agree to tell us about his gear. Gyokeres, an active duty U.S. Air Force photojournalist, says he deploys a fully customized multicopter that be built and modified, describing it as the “Erector Set” of drones. Below is a video of it being built.
His particular model has a GPS that limits its altitude to 130 meters (or about 426 feet) and he uses real-time video to fly it. “This is essentially a flying television station to broadcast exactly what the on-board camera sees to a hand-held monitor,” explains a description on his company’s website. As you can imagine, he’s tested all sorts of cameras, but currently sends up a Sony NEX5n and just purchased a Sony a6000.
Gyokeres, currently the secretary of the Professional Society of Drone Journalists, is hoping to “build acceptance and the safe use” of drones. Towards the end of our call, I asked Gyokeres again if he could comment about the wedding video that some political operatives are exploiting. “I’m standing by my assertion that it was not illegal,” he said.