The class used a remote-controlled aircraft to get aerial shots for a promotional school video and wants to use it for future media projects.
Teacher John Dent is always exploring new technologies for his classes — he engineered the interactive yearbook last year — and believes drone videography could be an important skill for the future.
“It’s not just because it’s cool, it’s because it really adds variety and a wow factor to your videos,” Dent told Noozhawk.
With a GoPro camera attached to the helicopter-style aircraft, the students can get sky-high shots of campus events. They can control the camera wirelessly by smart phone, too, so they can switch from video to photos midair.
Dos Pueblos senior Brett Williams is the go-to pilot of the drone and has tried it out at a football game and flew it inside the gym at the school’s open house. The students can also stream the video during the flight.
Williams has learned from the drone’s two crashes, and now makes sure to pilot it from a high point so he doesn’t lose sight of it. It has been taken by the wind and went out of control another time, when it barrel rolled and crashed into a neighbor’s yard — all caught on video.
The quad-copter can fly 1,000 feet into the air, providing a good view of the entire campus from any spot.
“I’ve taken it into the clouds,” Williams said.
Dent, who teaches DPNews, yearbook and computer graphics, wants to make drone journalism a unit for the television class. There’s a lot of talk about how drones could be used in the future — Amazon even said it would use them for deliveries — and he wants to give students experience with this technology.
“If they can walk into film school and know how to use a drone for some shots, they’re in better shape,” he said. “It’s all about giving them a leg up.”
As Dent notes, there aren’t many laws or regulations related to unmanned aircrafts yet, especially for non-commercial use.
The Federal Aviation Administration is still working on regulations for small and large drones, but will miss the 2015 deadline set by Congress.
The Poynter Institute reported that the FAA believes “there is no gray area” when it comes to using drones for commercial purposes — including news coverage — because of privacy, safety and ethical issues.
Even without active regulations, the FAA has sent 12 warning letters, including cease and desist letters to two university journalism programs last July: the Drone Journalism Lab at the University of Nebraska and the Missouri Drone Journalism Program at the University of Missouri.
For now, DPNews plans to take its quad-copter to the national Student Television Network conference later this month in Orlando, Fla. The aerial shots the students got for Dos Pueblos’ promotional video really got people talking, Dent said. The promo, which can be viewed here, was produced, edited and shot entirely by students.
Click here to make an online donation to DPNews’ fundraiser for the conference.