SnapRoll curates humble, passionate and highly skilled talent. We are a world-class team that combines the expertise of licensed helicopter pilots with the intuitive eye of aerial camera operators; these two positions travel as a team to every project. Our clients work alongside the operator to achieve precise framing, while the pilot focuses on maneuvering the drone itself. Each and every one of our pilots and operators are certified, commercial helicopter pilots who operate UAVs with the same safety, proficiency and focus as they do when flying the real thing. They are well-versed in utilizing superior drone and camera technology, as well as factoring in elements of nature, such as wind speeds and weather, guaranteeing stunning aerial cinematography in challenging locations around the world.
Founded in 2004, SnapRoll has established itself as a pioneer in the UAV industry. We were the first to commercially fly the Red ONE, Red Epic, Arri Alexa, and Phantom Flex professional camera systems. Our team passionately develops new drone technology to support the latest and greatest demands of the film industry. We have designed, integrated and flown UAVs ranging from light & portable DJI drones carrying DSLRs, larger custom built UAVs that can carry ARRI, RED and Phantom, up to giant rotor UAVs capable of carrying a 450 LB (200 KG) payload.
We collaborated closely with The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to help draft the safety and operational procedures for legal use of Unmanned Aerial Aircraft in the commercial and film industries.
SnapRoll is one of only six Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved companies in the United States to fly UAVs for commercial, feature film and television productions. The FAA press release can be read here.
things to consider
legal and safe operation
There are multiple factors that go into hiring a team to provide complex camera movements, data collection devices and aerial imagery. An informed decision is highly recommended before flying or moving any type of rigging, UAV or camera technology. Below you'll find a breakdown of parameters, qualifications and requirements needed to appease corporate level insurance, human resource teams, safety requirements and more.
The FAA requirements and potential liabilities flying drones are ominous, but important for the safe development of this industry. To help inform and educate our clients, partners, and friends we have compiled the following content. Unless someone is flying solely for personal hobby, the following provide the minimal requirements that should be followed. Read the frequently asked questions page here.
Disclaimer: This information is intended to help, but situations are always different and evolving. Do your own research.
FAA 333 EXEMPTION
This is the formal document from the FAA that grants an individual or company the right to fly UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) for any purpose other than hobby use.
Certificate of Authorization (COA)
This simply put is our “blanket exemption” outlining basic parameters of where, what and why we can or can’t do things in US Airspace. We can offer proof of this upon request and our exemption letter from the FAA can be read HERE (link here). The COA requires we provide the following staff and qualifications to operate:
Private or Sport license with active medical certificate
Our pilots fly full size aircraft (fixed wing and rotorcraft) regularly.
They are continuously testing new technology and techniques to better operate with team and outside creative sources (ie.: directors, DP’s, etc.).
Our camera operators are up to date with the latest camera technology and have spent time in a variety of environments to hone their craft, learn proper etiquette and offer creative advice when needed.
Relationships with some of the leading photo/video technology companies offer us the opportunity to learn workflows and products on a highly detailed level in formal environments.
Visual Observer (VO)
The VO acts as an “extra set of eyes” for the pilot by focusing on additional elements within the line-of-sight. They relay audible warnings to staff and are required to be well versed in knowledge of US Airspace and air traffic regulations. Each VO is trained by an FAA certified instructor and awarded with a certificate upon completion.
Plan of Activities (POA)
A POA is filed for every job we're hired for with any corresponding local FAA office to state our plans and details of the flight. One filing covers a one mile radius from the coordinates or address supplied which allows mobility to relocate if needed to achieve the optimal location and operating space within “line of sight.”
Liability: Most jobs require liability insurance of $2-5 million. This provides risk protection to our clients and our company. Snaproll carries property insurance at a minimum on our higher end equipment. Clients are named as “additionally insured” upon contract signing and we request the same in return from the client before project commencement. For higher end jobs we request proof of coverage from clients.
FAA has established that drones over 0.5lb. (8.8oz.) are classified differently, so we use the same guidelines and suggest the following should apply to aircraft above that weight.
- Prior to flight, observe the area you will be flying for obstacles and any potential items that might enter the flight path.
- Go through your preflight checklist and ensure communication with the visual observer (VO).
- Never fly over or within 200ft of people not aware of the UAV flight (non-participants).
- Do not fly within 5 miles of an airport.