Droney McDrone Face - Flying Drones in Queenstown

An Essential Guide to Drones at your Wedding

We’ve been flying drones in Queenstown pretty much since they first came on the market around 10yrs ago and now it seems like they’re everywhere. Drones provide angles that you simply cannot get any other way. Whether it’s incredible sweeping shots of the landscapes and venues you’ve selected or revealing you on a mountain top like something out of a Hollywood film, aerial cinematography adds the wow factor.

We think it’s an integral part of your wedding film and that’s why it’s included with all of our packages. But we know that drones aren’t familiar to everyone and they also come with some misconceptions so we’ve put together a bit of an essential guide to drones at your wedding.

Why get drone video?

A drone reel from on top of the world. One of our faves – Double Cone on The Remarkables, Queenstown

You’ve put a lot of time, effort and money into planning your perfect day, picking the best locations and dreaming about how it’ll all look. It’s worth the investment to capture the scale of that properly and the only way to really show it off, in our slightly biased opinion, is with a drone.

If you’re joining us in our backyard here in Queenstown, we’re willing to bet the scenery had a major part to play in that decision. It’s world class, it’s epic and it will be the envy of anyone who wasn’t with you. Drones allow us to get videos from unique angles that show off your venues and locations as they deserve to be shown. It’s also a great way to break up the edit by contrasting the authentic, intimate handheld footage with something more cinematic.

It’s cinematography that used to be limited to blockbuster Hollywood films and will now blow people away watching your wedding film.

Still not sure? Why not check out some of our drone reels…

Where can you fly?

With our drone pilot certifications (more about that below), we’re able to legally fly in more places so we can always get the best shots. You can check out a full list of locations here.

Knowing your itinerary in advance will mean we can liaise with air traffic control and landowners to ensure we can pop the drone up and get some footage wherever you want. That being said, we can’t always guarantee permission. Locations near to the airport or directly in the flight path will require clearance on the day. We’ll do everything we can to obtain them but ATC have final say and we’re always at the mercy of the incoming jets. We won’t be playing chicken with them!

The rugged and beautiful Madagascar Beach of the West Coast

When can’t you fly?

Weather is the biggest nemesis to our drone with wind and rain being the 2 major factors. Safety is always our number one priority and ultimately too much wind or water getting inside the drone could cause a major accident. Therefore, at the operators discretion, we won’t fly if we believe the conditions are unsafe to do so.

Coromandel Peak, overlooking Lake Wanaka and the Matukituki towards Mt Aspiring. One of the most popular spots and for good reason!

Does it get in the way?

As with everything we film, our main aim is to make sure we don’t stop you from having the best day ever. With a loud drone, we want to be sure that it doesn’t affect you or your guest’s enjoyment and that it’s absolutely worth the shot. Therefore we don’t fly during the ceremony or buzz over anyone’s heads during canapé hour – that would be illegal as well as annoying.

Instead we’ll keep our distance, getting wide shots that show it all off and then spend some dedicated time with the drone during your photoshoot. Generally speaking, we advise that allowing 10-15mins of dedicated time with the drone at your photoshoot location will give us great results. This allows us to make sure that everyone else is out of the way (photographers, pilots, Uncle Glen) so we can capture just the 2 of you on top of the world. But we’re more than happy to scale that back if you’d rather we just capture a more behind the scenes approach. It’s your day!

Lake Erskine: in the heart of the Fiordland National Park. This is a jaw dropping spot and one that needs those epic drone shots!

Are drones safe?

Ok time to get more serious. We’ve all read the headlines or been disturbed by a drone buzzing overhead in what should be a private space. There’s animosity towards drones (and drone operators) and that’s not without good reason. There are strict rules in place which are managed by the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) which treat UAVs/Drones in the same way as any other aircraft but unfortunately these are sometimes ignored or not even known of by operators.

Simply put - in the wrong hands, drone’s can definitely be very dangerous.

Safe hands: James at the controls capturing the most epic sunset over Dusky Sound in Fiordland

How should I pick a safe operator?

The last thing you want on your wedding day is to be the subject of those headlines. Worse yet, an operator without insurance will go out of business if there’s an incident, and you probably won’t ever get to see your film. Therefore, all of our team undergo a yearly training course with the CAA to certify us as drone pilots. Additionally, our company has been given a CAA 102 certification which acknowledges our level of training and allows us to fly in situations that other operators cannot. Our service procedures, liability insurance and relationships with ATC (Air Traffic Control) give a layer of safety and protection that shouldn’t be overlooked. So, weird and boring as it sounds, make sure your videography team are certified or, at the very least, understand the rules laid out in part 101 of the CAA rules.

What’s the benefit of choosing a certified pilot?

Aside from all the safety concerns, picking a drone operator with the right certification will open up way more possibilities for your film. Under our certification – we can navigate the complexities of flying near an airport, we can fly at night (which adds a whole new dimension to your reception footage) we can operate over council land and in low flying zones such as The Ledge in Queenstown.

Basically, this means we can fly in more places so you won’t have to decide between a location you love and getting drone footage.

The Ledge in Queenstown. One of the most popular locations which requires a 102 certification to a fly a drone at.

These rules are enforced by a number of bodies but helicopter pilots often take an interest in them too (mostly that they don’t want to hit one). Nearly all helicopter companies have a no-drone policy with the exception of certified operators and so if you’re planning a heli photo-shoot you’ll want a certified pilot.

The training our pilots undergo isn’t just nerdy theory and rules. The main component is a practical assessment – a bit like a driving test. So, when we get to a photoshoot location, we don’t need hours to get one shot. The shots won’t be jerky, out of focus or weirdly framed. Instead they’ll fit seamlessly with the quality of all your other footage but will hopefully make your jaw drop.

In a nutshell, we have hours upon hours logged at the controls - so we get shots quickly, safely and of the highest possible quality.