Welcome to Gear In Review. Learn more about how we’ll be bringing reviews, recommendations and insights around the many gadgets, gizmos, and widgets used everyday to capture and tell stories inside hospitals.

In the last episode we explored handheld cameras; in this episode we are reviewing drones including two we use at Gray Digital Group made by DJI. We will review size, functionality, price, and use case for each drone. This is a great episode where we will have a guest, Gray Digital Group’s resident drone operator Mark Berry who is commercially licensed by the FAA.

Here are links to the cameras we discuss:


Reed: Hey everybody, this is Reed Smith.

Chris: And this is Chris Boyer.

Reed: And we are cohosts on a show called Touchpoint, which is a podcast that’s dedicated to the discussions on digital marketing and online patient engagement strategies, not only for just hospitals, but health systems and physician practices.

Chris: In every episode, we’ll dive deep into a variety of topics on digital tools, solutions, strategies, and other things that are impacting the healthcare industry today.

Reed: And while you listen to this show, we would certainly love you to check out.

Chris: All you have to do a swing on over to touchpoint.health for more information and also some of the other shows that are featured on the Touchpoint media network.

Reed: Alright, welcome to gear in review. I’m Reed Smith. Joined as always by Bobby Rettew.

Bobby: What’s up?

Reed: And we actually have a third special guest today. Mark Barre.

Mark: Hello.

Reed: Mark is a helicopter pilot. No, not really but close, close.

Bobby: He is our helicopter pilot.

Reed: He is. He is. He’s a government endorsed and regulated. I’m not sure if any of that’s true, but anyway, drone pilot and since you’ve downloaded this episode, you know, we’re going to talk a little bit about drones today. So we thought we’d have Mark in. Mark works with Bobby and I and is actually the one that is licensed to fly these things around for commercial purposes. So.

Bobby: Yup. And he smacks me down when I start flying them because he’s like, dude, you can’t do that.

Reed: Yeah it’s illegal

Mark: Even though you legally could.

Bobby: Yeah, that’s true.

Reed: Anyway. So I don’t know that anybody out there listening is necessarily wanting to do this for commercial purposes, but as a small disclaimer there is a license and licensure processes, you have to go through to be able to actually capture commercial footage so to speak. So we won’t get too terribly much into that. We may speak to it just a little bit, but wanted to talk about drones today. Wanted to talk about the couple of different trends that we have, why you might want one, what you might do with it and a little kind of the in’s and out’s

Bobby: Yeah. So here at Gray from a content collection standpoint, we integrate drones and we have two drones that we use. One is the DJI, we like DJI product. The DJI Phantom three advanced, which and then also the DJI Mavic pro. Both of them are two different sizes of types of drones. They … the phantom three is not as compact. It’s a little bit bigger drone. It’s not the big ones that you see, but it’s a good sized drone. It has a 2.7 K camera on it, which means that almost shoots 4K, so it’s halfway in between hd quality and 4K imagery. And then the DJI Mavic pro is a … has a 4K sensor on it. Great kit, great drones, a lot of fun to use.

Reed: Okay. So for those considering a drone, what are some of those I guess a qualifying points that you would want to look at when purchasing a drone? What are some considerations?

Mark: Well, in my opinion, it really just depends on what you’re going to be using the drone for. If you’re going to go to a parade and just capture good aerial footage any drone would really do, but I really think the Mavic pro is probably the best all around drone for the consumer and prosumer just because it’s amazing quality. It’s easy to operate, easy to learn and obviously if you’re going to fly commercially, you’ll have to take the pilot’s test. But I think, I mean that’s not too difficult. So.

Reed: Yeah. And so for most organizations that are wanting to capture their own content that probably nullifies some of that but again, I’m not going to weigh in on that deal. You need to go research that yourself.

Mark: Yeah.

Reed: But the Mavic pro is a little more compact. It’s a little easier to carry around, right?

Bobby: Yeah and I think what’s interesting about that and what we mean by compact is by packing it and carrying it somewhere. So you got all the batteries, you’ve got all the stuff that goes with it. For the Phantom, you need a big backpack, like literally a backpack. It’s like a checked item for an airplane. Whereas the Mavic pro folds up into probably, maybe a six by four little case.

Mark: Your Mac book is bigger.

Bobby: Yeah.

Reed: Yeah.

Bobby: Mac Book is bigger.

Reed: I mean it’s the size of like a women’s, like a small clutch or small purse or something like that.

Bobby: Yes and the reason why we have both of those is we travel so much.

Reed: I don’t know why I know the size of a clutch, but …

Bobby: That is kind of strange.

Reed: Maybe we’ll come back to that.

Bobby: Yeah we’ll come back to that. We travel all the time and so we had to go to Haiti a second time to shoot a video and to get through customs we wanted to scale down the size of packaging that we had and so the drone was … this drone shot a better image and we can compact it so small we could put it in a suitcase. Whereas the Phantom three had to be its own check bag.

Reed: Okay.

Mark: You know, we got the Phantom three so early on and it really helped us get our feet wet with the drones and learn how to fly them. But really and truly, if we’re honest, there’s really no reason to have a Phantom three. The Mavic pro does everything the Phantom three does and better and it’s more compact.

Reed: Yep. So okay, I’ve got a question. So I have the original Phantom.

Bobby: Nice.

Reed: With a custom made like rubber tub that I carried around with like nine batteries, you know and that whole deal and it has the original go pro strapped to the bottom.

Bobby: Nice.

Mark: Oh.

Reed: So this is like shooting film pretty much everything from aerial. But alright, so do all drones come with a camera on them now? Now I’m not talking about the toy stuff, but like from a DJI? If I go out there and I buy a drone do they all come with a camera now?

Bobby: Yes.

Mark: As far as I know they all come with their own built in camera.

Reed: Okay and how, well how is that video captured and …

Bobby: So they’re all captured on SD cards.

Reed: Okay.

Bobby: And what is interesting is the way that DJI has built all these product lines where we talked earlier about the Osmo, where you can take the camera off the Osmo and put it on a drone, the aspire.

Reed: Yeah, yeah okay.

Bobby: And then the big one that they have that when you put cinematic cameras on, can use our gimbal, our Ronan gimbal and attach it to the bottom of the drone to shoot big red cameras, big Canon cameras.

Reed: Yeah.

Bobby: Film related. These, the prosumer size, the medium sized size already have cameras on the bottom, have card … you put the card inside the camera and it records into that card and it also, it can record into the remote or the phone as well.

Mark: Yeah you can monitor from the phone. It’s pretty cool.

Reed: Okay. So you’ve got, you have the remote that you’re holding to physically fly the drone around for those that haven’t done it, right? It’s the little joysticks or what have you and it has a bracket, if you will, to hold a phone or an IPad or something like that to monitor what you’re filming is that a fair?

Mark: Yeah. Some brands of drones actually come with their own monitor built in.

Reed: Okay.

Mark: The mainstream DGI drones usually leverage an Iphone to monitor whatever it is you may be filming and it works really well.

Bobby: Yeah, for me, I just have to set my original Go pro to take a picture every five seconds. I just fly around a whole bunch [crosstalk 00:07:54]

Mark: … good stuff.

Bobby: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Reed: So tell me real quick one of the great options of using your phone as the app built in, the DJI app, which kind of gives you some options like automatic landing, you can set certain points to make it fly automatically. Talk a little bit about that, about both of these drones allow you to do that.

Mark: Yeah, well if you use the DJI go pro or not the go pro but the DJI go app on your Iphone to monitor the flight, you can set what you were talking about way points to have automatic flight and most people are using that are like farmers who are wanting a good, you know, aerial view of their crops but it, you know, you could get creative with it and use it in other ways. Monitoring the flight. You can circle a certain subject, you can set it to circle a certain subject.

Reed: Oh wow.

Mark: Some drones actually have touch screen now where you can tap on the screen and it flies to the object.

Reed: Wow.

Mark: Yeah. Some of these features are kind of gimmicky, but some of them were pretty practical as well.

Reed: Well, if you think what most hospital marketing folks are going to be concerned with is aerial footage of a brick and mortar locations probably, right? So they want the really pretty aerial picture of this new facility they built on the side of a lake or whatever. You know, you’ve got the different clinics and urgent care centers and things like that they’re building, plus they’ve got the big flagship hospital and they’re probably going to integrate B roll footage into something, some other project, right? And so this is a neat way to do that. Now I would say, you know, other interesting use cases are employee events, you know. So you’ve got the fish fry, you’ve got the local parade, you’ve got, you know, those types of things that are happening, you know, outside. It’d be a little tight, probably to fly this around inside, I don’t know. There’s a few hospitals have pretty large atriums and foyers that I guess you could.

Bobby: We’ve flown it inside before haven’t we?

Mark: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah and to your point about the employee events and things like that, one thing that people don’t really think about when they think about leveraging a drone is photography. Drones actually have the ability to take still photography and you know, some people say, well I can just take a screenshot from the video. Well, yeah you could, but the still photography from the drone is usually amazing quality photography …

Reed: Okay.

Mark: Here so he knows what the dimensions are on photos, but they’re usually a lot bigger than …

Bobby: They are and it captures raw images so you can really do some good adjustments, color correction built into that image.

Reed: So not to get too technical here, but are there some basic categories of drones so to speak? I mean, what we’ve mentioned to what DJI has for example …

Bobby: Right.

Reed: But you’ve talked about some of the larger ones where you’re fixing, you know, other gimbals and you’re pulling cameras off of other pieces of equipment like his handheld gimbals and some things like that. What … where, you know, somebody’s interested in this type of a thing and that’s mainly what they’re trying to do. Photography, some aerial photos, photographs and video, B roll photography and things like that. What are some of those kind of break points when you’re looking at these?

Mark: I mean, there is a very consumer drone out by DJI called the Spark. It’s really inexpensive. It’s … I would say it’s probably $300 I think I need to go look to be sure, but it is a scaled down version of the Mavic pro and it can fit in the palm of your hand and it really allows you to get really high quality images from a really good app. And the entry price is really inexpensive.

Bobby: Yeah. So I’m looking here, it looks like on the DGI official store, I see $279.

Mark: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bobby: No, I’m sorry, that’s a refurbished unit. So yes, about $300 or so used, yeah. And these drones do great beyond just being drones too. We think about high end production where they’re bringing in these large lifts and different pieces. Talk a little bit about Mark, how we’ve used the drone in a different way other than just aerial’s. We’ve done special shots and moves that many of the video producers inside health systems can use to make their videos look really good.

Mark: Yeah. Well, real quick, I just want to say first of all, DJI is a business. So they’re always going to be coming out with new drones with new features and that’s why I said what I said earlier when deciding on what kind of drone to get it’s best to just focus on what you want to do and then backtrack from that. Now to your question, my favorite thing about utilizing drones is how they can be used to replace traditional video tools. We’ve used drones to mimic the movements of gimbals and jibs and dollies. I mean, these traditional tools were time extensive, expensive, and the drone can produce the exact same shot for a fraction of the cost and you’re only using one tool.

Bobby: And honestly, just to take your point one step further, when people start talking about do I really want to spend $1,200 bucks on a drone? That’s how much it costs when I shot aerial footage out of a helicopter per hour to run a helicopter with a rig, an HD rig in it. It was $1,200 bucks an hour. So put that in perspective these drones provide a very small capital expense for a large system that you can use over a longer period of time to get amazing footage.

Mark: Yeah. If you add up the cost of dolly tracks a jib or jib attachments, helicopter hours, doesn’t look so expensive.

Bobby: Yeah. Yeah, no, absolutely. So these are very cool that they’re becoming easier and easier to fly. This is not the toy store helicopter or even drone for that matter. I mean there’s some out there that will even follow you around and I mean, there’s all kinds of crazy stuff now and so they’re not terribly hard to fly. It’s a little bit getting used to and you kind of get, you know, figure out what you’re trying to accomplish. But great ways to capture additional content and additional footage. So we’ve talked a lot about DJI, for those that want to go out there and look, obviously you can go to DJI’s website and look at the different drones that they have, ranging anywhere from three to $400 up to five grand.

Mark: Yeah.

Bobby: You know, more than you want to spend probably.

Reed: Are there other brands people should look into or consider? I know DJI is probably somewhat of a leader in this space as far as variety goes. Anything else come to mind?

Bobby: Go pro has their own drone. What’s some other ones Mark?

Mark: There’s several, but you know, I stick with DJI just because it’s a safe choice, it’s a reliable choice and some of the brands out there, it really is hit or miss. I mean, I’ve seen some that had excellent marketing, but you put the drone in the air and it can’t give you a stable image. So, you know, I’m not saying DJI is the one and only brand.

Bobby: Sure.

Mark: There’s great brands out there, but it is hit or miss. With DJI is a pretty reliable choice at this point.

Reed: Very good. Well, that’s what we use and have a couple of and obviously we’ve talked about the handheld gimbals and some things like that and so anyway, great way to capture some really cool footage and may save you some money even on the production side of things, even if you’re using an external company to produce some stuff. If you’re able to provide some B roll, just a great way to do that. Obviously a great way to produce some social content as well. So …

Bobby: Yeah, and these drones, the app’s built in just FYI, can hook to your Facebook account and you can do Facebook live out of these drones.

Reed: Oh Wow. Very cool. Okay. That’s a very interesting idea and, you know, could play into some potential content marketing strategies and some things like that. So. Well, very cool. Be sure to visit us online touchpoint of health, learn more about this show and others for Reed Smith, Bobby [inaudible 00:16:24] and Mark Barry, appreciate you listening and we’ll talk to you next time.

Bobby: Thanks. See ya.

Mark: Later.

Reed: This show is made possible in part by the social health institute. Through research and partnerships with healthcare organizations around the country the social health institute explores new and innovative ways for hospitals, healthcare organizations to develop and enhance their social media and digital marketing strategy. To learn more about the social health institute, visit them online at socialhealthinstitute.com. That’s socialhealthinstitute.com. This has been a Touchpoint media production. To learn more about this show and others like it, please visit us online at touchpoint.health.