The Sky Revolutions Content Team recently carried out an interview with Sky Revolutions’ Operations Manager Steve Kessack to find out what goes into the average drone construction photography project.
Content Team: Hi Steve, thank you for your time today. First, could you tell us who you are and what you do for Sky Revolutions?
Steve: My name’s Steve and I’m the Operations Manager for Sky Revolutions. That means I take care of a lot of safety procedures, visit a lot of building sites, pilot drones, and shoot both photography and video. I do everything I can to ensure our customers get high quality footage they can use to monitor their builds and promote their businesses.
CT: What chain of events led to you becoming an Operations Manager for Sky Revolutions?
Steve: It started through a love of technology. I’d always been interested in the latest technological advances and enjoyed picking up new hardware and software. When drones became accessible, I was an early adopter and very quickly set about learning how to become a qualified drone pilot. That was the start of the path that eventually led me to Sky Revolutions.
CT: What does your daily role entail? What do you spend most of your time doing?
Steve: This may come as a bit of a surprise to members of the public who view drones as something of a toy, but in the world of professional drone piloting there’s a lot of forward planning involved. Documentation has to be filed, plans have to be drawn up, permissions have to be secured, and development sites have to be inspected firsthand. All of that behind-the-scenes work is done to ensure that the flights themselves are as safe and efficient as possible, which allows us to focus on the photography and videography.
CT: What are some common challenges you face as an operations manager?
Steve: As is the way with a lot of jobs, the facets that end up being the most challenging and are not the things you expect going in. In this field, one of the areas that requires the most diligence is communication – and that includes reaching out to all the parties required to sign off a flight.
Whenever safety is a factor, procedure and forward planning become extremely important. Hiring an unqualified drone pilot can be disastrous for a developer, so Sky Revolutions goes out of its way to educate companies and to make sure they are aware of the many rules and regulations that need to be followed. We do this by offering free CPD (continuing professional development) courses to businesses. We’ve been in the industry since the start, and our experience is one of the many ways in which Sky Revolutions differentiates itself from other operators in the field.
CT: What else do you think separates Sky Revolutions from the rest?
Steve: I’d say two of the main things would be quality assurance and value for money.
In the case of the former, we are careful to put processes in place to ensure that we always meet our customers’ needs. Each development team and building site is different, so we take the time to ensure that we’ve listened to and understood exactly what our customers are looking to achieve. We also encourage feedback, because we believe that good communication is an essential part of the job.
And when it comes to the latter, we are a well-known and trusted construction photography provider, which means we carry out a large number of drone flights every year. We are fortunate enough to be entrusted with a significant volume of work, which means we can offer our standard construction photography package at an extremely reasonable price – and one that always pleasantly surprises new customers!
CT: What kind of qualifications are required to become an Operations Manager for Sky Revolutions?
Steve: First and foremost, you need to obtain a PfCO (Permission for Commercial Operation). This involves a course that normally lasting 4-5 days and involves both theory and practical elements.
Each operator has to submit an Operations Manual to the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) for approval. You’ll need a CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) card before you can enter a building site. And finally, you’ll need to be DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checked. There are plenty of checks in place to ensure that drone use grows in a safe and sustainable way.
CT: Sky Revolutions offers a range of services such as time-lapse photography – how does this work?
Steve: We use an innovative portable mast system to install a camera on site for as long as is required. The camera continues to shoot, automatically, as preset intervals. These frames can be played back as video that compresses long time frames into a much shorter span.
Our masts can install cameras to an elevation of up to 85 foot. We carry out all the required maintenance and we can access the photos and video captured at any time, from any location. We can also create shorter time-lapse video using a drone.
CT: Sky Revolutions recently announced that it is now capable of providing a live stream from a drone to any location in the world – is this correct? How does this work?
Steve: That’s correct, Sky Revolutions can live stream video from our drones to any location in the world, instantaneously. We use advanced broadcasting equipment that receives the footage from the drone and allows us to connect with our customers through a wide variety of media platforms. This is another example of our determination to stay ahead of the game by offering services that set Sky Revolutions apart from the rest.
CT: What has the customer feedback been like on new technologies such as time lapse and live streaming?
Steve: Live streaming is really wowing people. The ability to see our footage instantly is really helpful for developers. Even more importantly, the facility to do this from any place on Earth is a game changer for professionals in an industry as busy and fastmoving as construction.
Time-lapse video gives our customers the ability to see the entire duration of their build, which can be great for accountability and oversight. It also allows our clients to navigate to a particular moment in time, which isn’t possible if your construction photographer only visits your site once or twice a month.
CT: What’s next for the drone construction photography industry?
Steve: We believe that as drones become more and more commonplace on building sites, there will be growing demand for operators who prioritise safety and efficiency. You’ll be seeing a lot more drones in the skies in construction, and other industries, so a solid track record and proper accreditation will become increasingly vital.
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