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Jan 11, 2015
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Savannah, GA
So, now that the FAA has signaled its intent to certify and legalize commercial UAV operation in the USA, I thought it would be an appropriate time to begin the conversation about what people plan on charging for producing footage or photographs taken with an Inspire 1?

What structure do you plan on implementing? Day rate, half-day rate? Or, are you planning on going by the hour, or is there some other structure that I'm not considering such as per-shot or something else? How about single-controller operations vs. dual controller? Surely, there has to be a higher rate to accommodate the second operator being there...

Just curious what the community thinks. I'd even be interested to know what people abroad are charging along these lines, especially if such commercial activity is already sanctioned in your country.
My 2c:

The rules could go into effect as early as this year, and folks intending to do commercial should now be:

1) building their portfolios
2) getting familiar with the FAA's Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), much of which will be required knowledge on the commercial operators exam if the proposed rules are made final.

I would expect the Vimeo/YouTube portfolios of any operator would be essential to potential paying clients not only in securing paid engagements but also in determining price.

The market will dictate the prices based on supply and demand, and with the rapid propagation of quality drones, having a good portfolio showcasing your best work will be essential in setting you apart from the Fred-In-A-Sheds that picked up a drone yesterday and put an ad up the next.
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I get that the amount charged will vary based on the skills and body of work. I've been doing the video production company thing for 15 years. My question really wasn't about how much to charge, but rather, what pricing structure should charges be based upon. Surely there is some kind of consensus to be found in the community here about how people charge for service - my inclination is to go with a standard day rate, since that's how all other film production business is done in the field.
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The NPRM will continue for 60 days followed by extensive deliberation by the FAA. Given the anticipated participation by ALPA (Airline Pilots association) and other advocates for the airline Industry, I foresee a drawn out process. I'll guess licensing guidelines will be available at the end of 2016. I hope I'm wrong...Also, lobbying efforts by interested parties will demand a more involved procedure for licensing. I'm afraid simply taking and passing a written test will not get your certificate. Again, I hope I'm wrong - Sorry for spitting in the punch, but I've seen this movie before.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Frankly, I'm actually in favor of a more stringent certification procedure than simply passing a written test every two years. There need to be some barriers to entry, and some reasonable enforcement, or the certification procedure won't mean anything.

Regardless, no one seems to want to share their ideas about how to charge for this stuff, eh?
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Been doing day/ half-day + transport costs. Footage comes "cleaned up" in customer-specified format as standard (becoming less of an issue nowadays, but I've been in that thing for 5 years and until recently raw results were so crappy that doing it that way i.e. sorting the one nice take of a shot repeated several times and doing post-stab if needed was required to look "professional" enough. Directors don't want to go through 2 hours of pretty shitty footage to find the 15 minutes that are really good, but are impressed if they get 15 minutes of which 10 are great to them). So that was at least half a day of work per shoot.
Come on, several small businesses asking for advice and following it or not is not price-fixing.

It would be if you had 2-3 major players sharing 70% of the market and they secretly agreed to a price to not leave any chance to others.

how do you deliver the final footage to the customer. The easy answer is "to customer requirements" but what if its customers first shoot ever and is asking advice from YOU wrt to format/form of delivery or a at the very least looking for professional guidance?Mov/MP4/RAW/JPEG,Email,Face to face,pen drive etc etc
including gear rental fees I think a single op should get about 900 a day (in/around NYC at least)
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I think its important for us to talk about this, people need to understand that their time is valuable.

Not only our time but the huge risk we take on. I have a fair amount of experience with a phantom (though I never actually owned one). Every so often, it would just crash. Something weird would happen and it would go down. If that type of thing happens with the inspire its not going to be cheap. That needs to factor into what we change.

Ive worked as an assistant camera on a couple reality TV shows so I'm basing my pricing according to what I've seen. Usually, I get about 200 bucks a day for my 5D kit rental (5DII, 70-200, 35, 50) to bring as a back up if the DP asks for it. MSRP of around 6k. The inspire set up properly for film (dual remote (even though not every job would require 2 ops), 5 or so batteries, couple chargers, iPad, pelican) is around 5K. I think you could very easily make a case for at least 300 bucks a day as a rental fee. I know DPs on some reality shows getting about 800 a day as their rate (not including kit). I was getting 250-500 a day. I would say that a drone op would fall somewhere between the two.
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The risk is definitely a consideration - that's a good point. It's considerably higher than most video/photo jobs where you're not flying your main rig around with a remote control, and it's planted on Terra Firma. I've actually thought about needing to have a complete second Inspire 1 kit if I'm going to be offering a commercial service. Just the cost of calling yourself a professional - being ready to fly no matter what.
My charge out rate is $900 per day plus sales tax (15% in New Zealand). The pricing structure I have found to be most successful however is by selling my photography or videography in a value added format. By this I mean not just supplying the client with a digital image but instead having that image printed and framed, or in the case of a video, it is edited, their company logo added etc. this way people are paying for a physical product, not a digital image on a memory stick. This way may not work for everyone, it's not my full time job either, but yesterday alone I made over $2000 in profit for flying my Inspire for 12 kilometres, taking 40 photos and ordering 11 A3 sized prints. At this stage we have pretty liberal laws surrounding the use of drones but these are set to tighten up later this year. Our CAA has started prosecuting people who do idiotic things with their UAVs but leave the professional and sensible users alone.
You can disagree if you want, and feel free to be paranoid about it, if you want, David. Discussing industry practice for how services are charged is hardly the same thing as price fixing. All I want to know is whether people charge by the hour, by the day, or by some other method. If you want to charge $12,000 a day, that's your prerogative. By the same token, if you'd prefer to charge $150 per shot, you can do that, too. It's a free country. Price fixing involves collusion. This isn't that.
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Jeez, fixed pricing.... C'mon now.
I have been quoting people based on the work. I have produced videos for a few companies filmed and edited where I just quoted the cost up front. For the construction company I have been working for I use a package format since that is what they were used to. They paid helicopters and planes to fly over and take 10-15 high quality pictures and they would pay thousands. I do it for a fraction of the cost and provide dozens of pictures AND video. I charge them $500 and I am in an out in less than an hour. I go once per week.
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I respectfully disagree but that's because I am a CLVS (Certified Legal Video Specialist) and work within the legal system. Any conversation on the internet will be searchable for eternity and can comeback to bite you. I see it all the time. Do as you wish but I respectfully remove myself from this conversation.

I think a little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing. In no way, shape or form could any court find that this conversation on this thread amounted to 'price fixing'. I'm sorry David but your statements are purely ridiculous. A few hobbyists who ask and offer advice on an open forum could hardly be seen as colluding. Besides, I for one live outside of the U.S. and I have offered advice on this forum regarding rates. Does this make it an international conspiracy now? Is this going to be the next Da Vinci Code? Get real Man. If you want to be taken seriously stop talking such ****.
I respectfully disagree but that's because I am a CLVS (Certified Legal Video Specialist) and work within the legal system. Any conversation on the internet will be searchable for eternity and can comeback to bite you.

Not if it's deleted! Or a request made for it to be removed from search engine results.
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Price fixing would require an entity to force us into a price or for us to have an agreement that is held by EVERYONE that no one will be able to get our service for less than "X" amount.
With price fixing there is no competition with regards to cost so that will never happen. Not enough people good enough to depend on their skill.
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