Essential Gears for a Professional Drone Shoot - Inspire 2
A lot of stuff goes with us when we fly the DJI Inspire 2 for a professional drone shoot. It is an advanced drone with a Micro 4/3 camera and interchangeable lens. So the usual camera accessories like ND filters and lens cleaning kit are essentials. But flying a drone is all about having a safe flight. So most of the supporting gears we bring alone are safety-related. We typically work in a 3 men crew setup; UAV Pilot, Camera Operator & Safety. Thus organizing the items into 3 carrying cases makes the most sense for us in terms of weight distribution and mobility.
Case 1 – Inspire 2 Drone and Dual Controller
The Inspire 2 works best when the UAV pilot focuses on flying the drone. The secondary controller is operated by the Drone director/camera operator. We also pack the spare propellers and the Zenmuse X5 camera inside.
Case 2 – Inspire 2 Battery Station.
For heavy filming days with multiple shooting locations, the Inspire 2 battery station is a Godsend. Typically, we carry 6 sets of Inspire 2 batteries that is sufficient for 1/2 day of filming. When we break for lunch, the battery station is set to quick charge. It can fully charge 4 sets of batteries simultaneously in only 1 hour. This is critical for a quick turnaround time because clients are not happy when we have too much downtime. The battery station can also charge the remote controllers and CrystalSky monitor at the same time too.
Case 3 – Support Bag
This is perhaps the most important bag contains all the supporting equipment. Here is the itemized breakdown.
1. Cleaning kit for the lens and sensor.
2. Drone operation signs to inform the public of our activity.
3. Micro 4/3 lenses we carry. 7.5mm, 12mm, 15mm, 25mm, and a 14-42mm zoom.
4. Carbon light stands to mount the drone operation signs.
5. Drone controller lanyard.
6. Anti-shear gloves. If we ever need to hand catch the drone during landing. Catching the Inspire 2 is a scary job compared to a smaller Phantom or Mavic drone. This has happened several times when the landing gear of the Inspire 2 refuses to engage in the landing position setting.
7. 7-inch monitor for the client
8. A set of 4 ND Filters of different densities.
9. Safety vest for the team. This helps to inform the public of our drone activity. When the public is aware that we are authorized to fly a drone, they are less likely to engage us in a hostile manner.
10. Crystalsky monitor. This is for the camera operator /drone director. The Crystal Sky is a high LUT monitor which helps us to make better judgments regarding camera exposure and framing.
11. DJI SSD card. The Inspire 2 uses a micro SD card for MP4, H264 filming. But for high-value work, the SSD card can film in higher quality Apple ProRes and Adobe DNG video formats.
12. Crystalsky charger.
13. Sketch board to draw out the flight plans.
14. First aid kit.
15. iPad for the Drone pilot remote controller. In our experience, the Apple version of the DJI Go software is more stable than the Crystalsky or any Android device. Having to reboot the DJI Go software in a middle of a drone flight is a hairy experience. So it is safer for the pilot to use the iPad.
16. Nikon forestry pro. It is a useful rangefinder to find out the distance and height of the surrounding features in the area.
17. Long screwdriver. The lnspire 2 landing mode had failed on us several times before. There is a slot at the bottom of the drone to insert a screwdriver to manually turn the gear thread and lower the landing gear.
18. Eartec ultralite headset provides wireless hands-free communication. We find them really useful for our team, as the drone spotter can be more than 100 meters away from the drone team at times. The Eartec radio frequency is in the 1900 to 1930 MHz range. So they don’t interfere with the drone’s 2.4 / 5.8 GHz frequency.
19. Drone activity permit. I forgot to include this super important document in the photo. We have been approached many times by the police during our drone flights. So this document will save your a**.