Meet the Drone Pilot | Chicago from the Air



Meet the Drone Pilot
Chicago from the Air couldn’t have been made six or seven years ago. While you could buy an inexpensive drone from somewhere like Sharper Image a decade ago and try to fly it around, “Drones really didn’t become commercially popular until I’d say about 2015 or so,” says Colin Hinkle, the owner and aerial photographer for Soaring Badger Productions, which filmed the stunning footage you see in Chicago from the Air.
“Back in 2010, 2011, when I started flying drones, they were pretty rudimentary,” Hinkle says. “The first one I bought was a pretty garbage drone. It didn’t have the GPS that we have now, it didn’t have a lot of the features we have now, [and] the camera was pretty bad. But it was a good first drone to practice with and get that sense of flying something with a camera on it.”
Hinkle was a traditional video photographer before he began using drones. He had experience shooting from helicopters – something Soaring Badger still does, depending on what shot is needed – for Chicago news stations. His interest in filming from the air grew out of a desire for “a creative angle,” he says, the ability to “put a camera in a unique position.”
The two tools – drones and helicopters – offer different advantages. “I’ve never been pro-drone or helicopter,” he says. “I’m pro-whatever-is-the-right-tool-for-the-job.” A drone’s smaller size offers new vantages and more precise movement and is easier to bring to a …