8:08 AM, Wednesday, May 20th, 2015:
Holy shit. I mean, holy... shit. Watch this:
I've jumped out of a plane before. And it wasn't CLOSE to the stress level of getting those shots. That isn't an exageration for comedic effect. Gratned, I was pretty calm jumping out of the plane because I cared little if I lived or died around that time - but I mean actual heartrate - actual adrenaline. Nothing compares with what this felt like.
Why? Because this is an EXTREMELY expensive (for me, not for the sport/hobby) quad-copter. A wrong move, this thing falls from the sky and could kill someone. It's a ton of responsibility... AND? IT'S AT NIGHT GODDAMNIT. Although I could see the area it was in at all times (last thing you want to do is have a building between you), it was FAR AWAY and all I could do was look at my fucking phone (there's an app that allows you to watch it in first person perspective). The stress peaked with the Bellagio shots because, humorously, I knew I was getting the best footage of my life. The subtle movement of the camera up while coming down on the Paris shot? I was shaking and barely pulled it off - and once I did? I knew I had "done it". I knew I had just pulled off one of the coolest drone shots I had seen on the community boards or honestly, anywhere. You can't do that shot with a real helicopter, it's too low. In fact, I'd argue that shot simply doesn't exist.

...and then you DON'T BRING IT HOME? And hover over fucking WATER to get more shots? It's a constant stress man.

Now, I did practice a bunch. I had the Phantom 2, returned it for the Phantom 3 and did tons of flights to get to this point. However I had only done a night shoot with it once and it's a whole different beast. Although you can see the lights at night? Your sense of space is a bit off. In fact on the Bellagio shots, I almost backed into the eiffel tower at one point because of it. Whew.
The other bummer thing about Vegas is I spoke to a security guard who said no casino will let you do it from their property. Well, shit. So that meant finding parking lots off-property and flying TO the strip, which, well - FUCK - is hard. So I had to spend my days scoping out areas on google maps and actually in my car driving around. Even holding it on the sidewalk caused people to literally yell at me. "IS THAT A MILITARY DRONE?!?! WHO ARE YOU?!?!"
The whole paranoia about the term "drones" is borderline conspiracy theory. I've never understood it. Even when it comes to military stuff. Yay, it's an aircraft where the cockpit is on the ground. Uhm, that's brilliant. It's still an aircraft. It's not somehow an artificial intelligence that will spy on you...
...but of course, someone could spy on you with it. Except... guess what your phone can do. Ya know? It's a good plot device for futuristic scary movies I guess, but in reality, it's a quad-copter. And remote controlled airplanes and helicopters have been around a LONG time. And people have been putting cameras on them to get aerial shots for a LONG time. It's now easier and cheaper, sure. But it's not exactly what people make it out to be.
That being said? I would happily get certification and a license to operate this if it meant sensible regulations. If someone attempted what I just did without any practice or skills? It could be really, really bad. Hell, even with skills I'd venture to say that lawmakers would say what I did was not safe. I would hope that there could be a progressive skill-based certification to show a pilot's apptitude with the unit. I would absolutely pay for a system like that so that people who don't have those abilities get fined or lose their license if they attempt the difficult maneuvers. Beause this hobby is about to BLOW up. And someone will be killed by one of these things because absolute novices are crashing these things left and right.
Either way, I'm out today! I got my footage. I didn't break any laws and I didn't kill anyone. Whew. Here's hoping there's some work in it for me after all this Delorean Time Machine stuff calms down. Because I believe I am indeed a smooooooooooooooothe drone operator.