Drone cinematography programme launched to boost skills

15th February 2021 By: Donna Slater - Creamer Media Contributing Editor and Photographer

As part of its Human Capital Development programme, provincial State entity and film industry support organisation, the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Film Commission has launched the Drone Technology Training programme.

Since 2014, when the KZN Film Commission says the use of drones in filmmaking became legal, aerial footage captured by drones has become common.

In drawing up the need for the programme, the KZN Film Commission explains that drones were introduced into filmmaking as cheaper and safer alternatives to replace certain shots previously done using helicopters.

“They could pull off high-and-wide shots, so long as they were not too high; and sweeping shots, so long as they were not out of pilot’s sight,” states the KZN Film Commission.

However, over the past five years, drone technology has improved substantially, and so has the imagination of the filmmakers who are using them. “Better camera gimbals, more durable hardware, and more sophisticated software has enabled cinematographers to push the limits of aerial cinematography,” the commission states.

With this in mind, the commission has opened up applications for students to apply and be part of the new training programme, and upon the successful completion will receive their drone pilot licence.

Students will be afforded the opportunity to have the programme split into two and will incorporate three weeks of ground training and two weeks practical training that will take place at a flight centre in Ballito.

The application criteria are targeted at students who have received their official qualifications in cinematography camera operation through any accredited higher education institution.

After a vigorous selection process, seven students were recently selected, with their programme due to start soon, and which will run for a period of five weeks through the Accredited Starlight Aviation Academy in Virginia Airport, in Durban.

KZN Film Commission CEO Carol Coetzee says the programme will be the first for the commission as part of the 2021 training programme. “This showcases how the commission is truly invested in youth development within our province and film space.”