Broadcasting students at Cleveland High will be taking their video assignments to new heights with the school’s recent acquisition of a drone quadcopter.
Broadcasting teacher Jon Souders said the drone was purchased to provide aerial footage of the Raider Dome throughout the deconstruction and construction process.
“We did flyovers of the deconstruction,” he said. “People were not allowed to go into the dome area, but we could fly this thing [over] the fence and get some cool footage of them bringing it down.”
Both pictures and videos can be captured with the drone. Overhead shots similar to the ones on Google Maps were taken to document the dome deconstruction progress. The device could not be flown any higher than 400 feet, as it falls under the “hobbyist” category in Federal Aviation Administration rules.
Souders admitted there were initially some technical glitches. He sent the product back to the manufacturers after the drone attempted to “fly away on its own.” The device has worked flawlessly since its return.
Now students in Broadcasting 3 and 4 will have the chance to incorporate the device in their video assignments.
Souders estimated it takes about 10 minutes to teach a student how to use the device.
“Once you are up in the air, there is nothing to it,” he said. “[The student] has a lot of room to move around. [They] are able to do a lot of maneuvers around the football field, parking lot and stuff like that.”
A clamp on the top of the controller holds the student’s smartphone. The drone syncs with the phone to provide live footage as it zooms, twists and hovers in the air. A student could potentially be inside of the classroom while controlling the drone as it flies across the football field.
A series of satellites provide GPS assistance to the drone. This allows the device to maintain a 5-foot radius of its GPS position. The drone automatically adjusts to counter the misdirection caused by a gust of wind.
Souders explained a gimbal provides pivotal support to the camera. The support allows the camera to maintain a smooth video feed instead of being tilted by the movement of the drone’s main body.
Students will use the drone to expand their knowledge of camera movements, compositions, unique shots and aerial photography.
“This is now giving the students a whole new world to utilize for their shots,” Souders said. “Whether it is tracking somebody in an action film, or using it to show how many people show up to a football field.”
He said the feedback from students, city schools’ staff and curious bystanders has all been positive.
“Our maintenance [department] wanted us to take it to all of the buildings and record roof shots to see where water is standing ... which has worked really well here,” Souders said. “The other day after it rained, we took it up and we could see immediately where the puddles were.”
Several ideas on how to use the drone outside of the classroom have been entertained. One such idea could help the broadcasting class earn $25,000 for the school: a lip dub contest sponsored by Macy’s. Souders said the drone should provide the students with an edge as it will permit for aerial footage.
The drone will also join the “Buy Here, Pay Here” blimp at football games once a stable footage feed is established. Souders assured the drone will not be replacing the blimp. However, the drone is still easier to use in certain conditions.
“If there was any kind of wind or anything like that, trying to control it to be able to use it was very difficult,” Souders said. “Our goal was to be able to give it to a student to be able to run, and it was never to that point.”
The drone cost a fraction of the blimp’s $10,000 price tag.
Examples of the aerial footage made possible with the drone will eventually be placed online at chslive.com.