Drone filming offers: ‘different kind of perspective’

A recent video showing the city skyline above Morgan Hall was filmed by a drone.

A recent video posted on Temple’s Facebook page showed what it looks like to rise up the side of Morgan Hall, featuring a wide view of the city skyline.

The 20-second clip was filmed by a drone quadcopter and was featured by Philadelphia Magazine in mid-December and has been viewed more than 14,000 times—but the aerial footage of Temple is not the first to be shown publicly. Those who tuned into last year’s Philadelphia Eagles preseason games in August may have caught glimpses of similar footage in a 30-second Temple commercial titled “What Makes a Temple Owl.”

When that ad aired, it was the first time Matt Satell saw his footage featured on national television.

“It was a pretty funny moment to see it there live pretty unexpectedly—it was a lot of fun,” said Satell, a drone pilot and founder of Philly by Air, a local provider of aerial photography and videography using drones.

Satell spent about five hours filming around Main Campus in July 2015, gathering footage of Temple football players doing sprints on the practice field and sweeping shots of the Bell Tower.

Gina Benigno, a Temple alumna and video producer for Temple’s Department of Strategic Marketing & Communications, said the video reflects the university’s recent accomplishments.

“So many great things have been happening at Temple, from rankings to the bowl game that we went to, that it seemed like a really good time to post that on Facebook,” Benigno said.

A self-described “tech junkie,” Satell first tried the fairly new technology for the fun of it, but once he was in the air, he realized its potential. He started the Philly by Air website in 2014.

Now, Satell, other pilots and his “fleet” of three drones have offered their eye-in-the-sky services for establishments like Temple, small businesses and even Fortune 500 companies. A drone flyover can help get a wide view of a large construction project.

“With an aerial view, it really gives them a whole different kind of perspective and a view they would never be able to have,” Satell said. “It gives them such a unique vantage point that they’re able to better see exactly what’s going on with their project.”

Satell faces heavy regulation on his commercial drone use by the Federal Aviation Administration. Drone pilots making a profit are required to have an official pilot’s license, and Satell needs a million-dollar liability insurance policy for his jobs and projects.

Rules a drone pilot must follow include only being allowed to fly up to 400 feet, only being allowed to fly when it’s daylight out and needing to maintain a direct line of sight with the drone.

Rocco Avallone, part of the local Out Of Town Films collective, is a freelance photographer and videographer who has been filming and posting personal drone projects since as early as October 2014. With his first aerial video on YouTube exploring the Divine Lorraine Hotel, he has since taken his DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter around the country and across the world.

“It seemed like a cool tool to capture video in a new way that has never been possible for the average person,” Avallone said. “I found it a pretty inspiring, new art form.”

As drones become more popular, Satell can see the potential of drones beyond entertainment. Drones could be flown in mountains to aid in search-and-rescue missions or used by firefighters to determine how hot a building is using an infrared camera.

For the many new ways Temple students have seen their campus, Satell believes he has been able to give a new appreciation for the school as a whole.

“It gives people the ability to understand the scope of the campus,” he said. “When you’re on the ground, you can only see one or a couple of buildings at a time. … I think it absolutely opens people’s eyes.”

Albert Hong can be reached at albert.hong@temple.edu

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