Consolidated expands services with new drone video technology

Ron Rhoades, Consolidated Telcom video producer, operates the DJI Inspire-2 drone, which allows the Dickinson company to take high quality video for its commercial productions. (Brandon L. Summers / The Dickinson Press)

Consolidated Telcom has expanded its commercial production offerings with its new drone video technology.

The DJI Inspire-2 is "not your typical small drone you can buy anywhere," Ron Rhoades, Consolidated video producer, said.

The two-person drone has two cameras: a point-of-view camera for the pilot and a rotating gimbal underneath to capture 4K images.

"Our pilot is able to fly it up, and then I can control that camera and let him know, okay, I want this angle, and, I like this, so move slow," Rhoades said.

The Inspire 2 shoots 4K resolution video, and with an upgrade, can shoot 6K video.


"There are some 8K TVs out there, but they're not being used by the consumer yet, because they're so overpriced right now," Rhoades said.

The drone can, among other uses, capture building "signature shots" for commercials.

"Say a motor company wants a drive-by of their lot, or a nice view of their building," Rhoades said. "I remember using bucket trucks to get different angles, up high. Now, you don't have to do that anymore."

Consolidated Videographer Trace Wells is certified to pilot the drone, having completed a Part 107 Federal Aviation Administration commercial drone exam.

The drone itself is also registered with the FAA.

"There are several people in town who fly drones and take video with drones," Rhoades said. "If they don't have that number on the side of their drone, they're flying illegally."

There are many laws and regulations governing how and where such drones can be used.

"A lot of people will fly above 400 feet, but you can't do it," Rhoades said. "FAA said airspace up to 400 feet is designated for unmanned aircraft. Anything over 400 feet is manned aircraft, or military purposes."


Consolidated's corporate policy goes beyond the FAA guidelines.

"There's certain things we just won't do," Rhoades said. "Flying it below 50 feet in someone's backyard? No, we won't do that."

Using the new technology has "been a blast," Rhoades said.

"When we're out flying it, there's a lot of people who come up and talk to us about how cool that is," he said.

Consolidated has been using the new technology since the start of summer, Marketing Manager Rhonda Fitterer said.

"It's enabled us to just open up different avenues to market," she said. "If someone wants a training video and wants outdoor footage of their properties, that's something we can do."

Expanding the company's production offerings is exciting, Fitterer said.

"We're not limited to just coming in with a traditional camera over somebody's shoulder," she said. "When we go out and film (sports) games, we're using iPads and multi-camera and get so many more angles, and the production is just better."


The quality of the company's commercials is also improved.

"They're cinematic," Fitterer said. "It looks like somebody outside of the state made it and it's being done right here."

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