Interview: Aerial Filmmaker & Drone Pilot, Dany Tomas

Shrimp Boat

Drone Advice chats with Dany Tomas, a producer-songwriter that discovered a new passion in life: flying drones! Dany’s production company, My Flying Eyes, focuses on aerial filmmaking. Dany is an FAA Part 107 Licensed Professional Drone Pilot based in America who understands airspace and key regulations regarding sUAS operations. You can visit his YouTube Channel here. Dany has also been featured in a video by Parrot Drones

DroneAdvice: What led you into the world of drones?

Dany: My wife gave me a toy drone as a gift and I’ve never looked back! When she noticed my new-found passion, she gave me a second drone for Christmas, one that has an HD camera and GPS. That’s when I started making professional videos.

Port Hueneme, California
DroneAdvice: What type of drones do you fly for client work these days? Do you fly any custom hardware setups?

Dany: I currently fly a couple of DJI Drones: the Mavic Pro & Phantom 4 Pro. I change my drone settings on the app depending on the type of shooting that I’m doing. The settings that I’ll typically change are aircraft speed and camera movement. As part of my custom setup, I use a drone landing pad that I developed myself. It allows me to have a perfectly flat surface at any location. This pad gives me the chance to do a flat trim calibration and gimbal calibration before every flight. I have a full explanation on how it works on my Youtube Channel.

DroneAdvice: Your aerial cinematography is exceptional in terms of the professional standard of your work and the types of shoots you’ve been involved in. Some of that work includes gathering footage in marine environments for sports like surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing. What challenges do you face in these types of environments?

Dany: Thank you so much for the compliment. I love getting out to the beach and filming in these environments. I find filming surf and kite surfing are the most challenging types of shooting.

One of the main things to be careful of is making sure that you are very conservative in terms of battery life when flying over water. I recommend initially flying against the wind so that the drone has a tail-wind as it returns to the home point. This can reduce the risk of having your drone end up in the water!

Also, tracking the subject is extremely difficult and requires a lot of practice. You will probably have to change your drone settings to make it more agile if you want to shoot these types of sports.

Cloud Break, Fiji: ranked as one of the world’s top 10 waves

People only kitesurf when the winds are strong, so you probably have to fly in sports mode. However, this is not the best mode to film in. You don’t want to get caught by the sail (which can move quickly) either, so getting too close to the subject is not a good idea. I would recommend staying above 110 feet altitude if operating near a subject. At the same time, you also have to watch for helicopters and maintain situational awareness. I recommend having someone act as a visual observer so you can focus on getting your shots while minimising the risk of being hit or causing problems for other airspace users.

Kite Surfing in Ventura, California
DroneAdvice: It looks like your drone work has taken you across many continents. What type of things do you typically do to get yourself organised for a shoot in another country?

Dany: I always check on the local drone regulations and, most importantly, if I’m even allowed to bring my drone. Some countries have very strict drone laws rand you take the risk of your drone being confiscated on arrival at an airport.

Another thing that I always do when traveling abroad is to search for other drone videos of the place that I’ll be visiting. By doing this I can get some ideas for interesting places to shoot. Lastly, if possible, I try to contact local drone fans in order to make new friendships and share information.

DroneAdvice: What are your thoughts on the importance of certification, and do you have any other advice or tips for budding professional and recreational drone pilots?

Dany: I believe it is very important to keep drone flying safe, so every step we take on this direction is welcomed. I think that it’s essential that all drone pilots (professional and recreational) have a basic knowledge of airspace, aviation, regulations, safety and weather. Understanding the complexity of aviation is key to making drone pilots respect the controlled airspace. We as a community have to protect our activity and be respectful of the rules and regulations.

Photos by Dany Tomas.