It’s a bird, it’s a plane…it’s a drone taking an aerial photograph! Father-son duo Lee and Victor Brewer, along with Director of Strategic Initiatives Daniel Swick, are the brains and planes behind Aerial Image Solutions. Started in 2013, the company uses small, unmanned aerial vehicles to snap aerial photos, videos, 360 panoramas and orbitals of views around Columbus.
Finding a variety of uses for their unique photographs from construction progress to real estate, the company is educating consumers about the safety and advantages to their approach to aerial photography. The business partners recently answered The Metropreneur’s questions about the company, giving insight into how exactly aerial photography works.
[M] Briefly tell us about your backgrounds as they relate to Aerial Image Solutions.
Victor: I have an Associate in Science, and I have always been interested in flight. Curiosity is in my nature as well as trying to figure these things out. This is what led to me building drones and applying them to unique aerial imaging applications.
Lee: I have always loved flying and anything related to flying. I started building and flying model aircraft as a kid which continued into my adulthood. In addition, I achieved my VFR Private Pilots license in 1988. I am Victor Brewer’s father, co-founder and part owner of Aerial Image Solutions.
Daniel: I have assisted AIS in business planning and institutional strategies and policies. I also assist in strategic planning processes and in the establishment and development of valuable client relationships.
[M] How did the concept and idea for the company develop?
Daniel: I have been friends with Victor since childhood. In Summer of 2013 we reconnected and Victor began discussing his aerial imaging by using UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles). With my background in technology and marketing, I was very interested and we began working together to create a system of business from the technology and service provided.
Victor: My father came up with the concept, and I took it to heart and began to run with the idea.
Lee: While working in the construction industry I have always been aware of the need for aerial surveys, maps and construction progress photography. As a construction claims analyst I am also keenly aware of the need for good record keeping. Nothing speaks louder than a quality picture. Several years ago I happened across a company that was developing multirotors for aerial photography. I was convinced then, as well as now, that drones have a place on the construction site and are applicable across a myriad of other applications and industries.
[M] What services does Aerial Image Solutions offer?
Victor: We offer a wide range of specialty aerial imaging as well as standard aerial video and photos. Our main offerings include construction progress photography, 360° aerial panoramas, 360° aerial orbits, real estate aerial packages, photogrammatry and orthophotography.
[M] What types of applications can these aerial images be used for?
Victor: There are many, many applications – marketing, progress photography, legal exhibits, environmental studies, traffic studies, city and community planning, the list truly goes on and on!
[M] How does it work?
Lee: It works exactly like a typical remote control aircraft. You have a pilot on the ground who controls the aircraft with a transmitter which sends signals to a receiver on the aircraft. The main difference is the complexity and capabilities of the aircraft. One of the biggest advantages is the first person view (FPV) capability. In addition to being able to hold a position via an on board GPS system and the camera being stabilized via gyros, the pilot is able to see exactly what the camera sees via FPV goggles or a ground station (laptop). When the pilot is using the FPV goggles a spotter is watching the aircraft and communicating to the pilot any surrounding issues or hazards the pilot needs to be aware of.
The aircraft is always within line of sight and operated under 400′ AGL (above ground level). Safety is the number one concern at all times. However, respect for privacy ranks right up there as well. The UAVs we utilize consist of either four, six or eight electric motors that sit on a frame composed of aluminum or carbon fiber and configured in a simple X or similar pattern. The motors are powered by lithium ion batteries. The electronic components include a control board, receiver, ESCs (control the speed of the motors). The payload is comprised of a gyro stabilized brushless gimbal and a high quality HD camera.
[M] What has the reception been like?
Victor: Great! The reception has been great! It is a greatly sought after tool right now, and people just can’t get enough of it.
Lee: Everywhere we go people are very intrigued and very receptive. Occasionally, you will have someone voice some vague privacy concerns. But probably 99.9 percent of the people we meet are very supportive and see the advantage of using a remote control aircraft instead of a traditional, full-sized aircraft. In fact, most of what we do cannot be done with a full-sized aircraft. It would be too dangerous.
[M] What’s the biggest challenge you have found with operating your business?
Victor: The two main challenges have been showing people that what we do is in no way illegal, there are currently no regulations out there over RCAP (Remote Control Aerial Photography) and the FAA will have no such regulations passed until they put regulations in front of congress to pass. Also, having enough time in the day to get everything done that the business needs done!
Lee: Fear. There seems to be a campaign to demonize drones and scare people about privacy and safety. As far as privacy goes people have way more to fear from their cell phones and everything they freely put on the internet. And as far as safety goes, I don’t think there is any comparison between the risks associated with a piloted, full-size aircraft and remotely-piloted, 20-pound aircraft.
[M] What success have you found with your business?
Lee: I think the biggest success is in commercial real estate development, in particular the aerial 360 panoramas. People want to see what the real world view is going to look like from various vantage points (elevations) before they build a high rise. Residential real estate runs a close second and that is probably followed construction progress photography.
Victor: I would say mainly in developing a tool for construction companies to improve their progress documentation, as well as full aerial marketing pages for real estate agents on a per-property basis. We continue to innovate with what we do and where we can take our imaging, and that really allows us to continue to succeed within this business!
[M] Anything else you would like to add?
Lee: I think one thing that needs to be emphasized is the fact that the operation of remotely controlled aircraft actually reduces the risks associated with aerial photography. Typically, a full sized aircraft piloted by an on board pilot and on board photographer would have to be employed to obtain the photographs and or video that we obtain. This not only puts the people in the aircraft at risk but any people or structures on the ground that may be in the way should the full size aircraft have a catastrophic failure or have to make an emergency landing. Utilizing a UAV eliminates the threat to the pilot and photographer and virtually eliminates the threat to people and or structures on the ground by virtue of the minimal size and weight of the aircraft.
Victor: We are more than happy to answer any questions out there regarding our services and aerial photography in general!
For more information, visit aerialimagesolutions.com.
Photos via Aerial Image Solutions.