The Drone Trainer Podcast – Episode 2
Miami Drone Pilot Charles Canady
The Drone Trainer Podcast – Episode 2
Miami Drone Pilot Charles Canady
Welcome to the second episode of The Drone Trainer Podcast! In this episode, we’re going to hear from Charles Canady of Miami Florida, as he discusses his commercial drone business and lets you in on some ideas for how to market yourself to local influencers!
Today’s Guest: Charles Canady
Charles is a commercial drone operator working in a small team, consisting of ground and aerial photographers and videographers. Charles and his team shoot and create videos of a variety of events, including creating music videos from both the ground and in the air!
Charles also discusses an incident where he lost a drone, which very likely would have been avoided if he had used a proper drone pre-flight checklist. Needless to say, now he uses one for every flight.
Connect with Charles
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Hey everybody, how’s it going? Thanks for joining me for the latest podcast today on the show. We’ve got Charles from Miami. He’s going to tell you about his business and how he’s taking influencers to get a lot of attention. If you haven’t subscribed yet, make sure to do that now. Just click subscribe either in iTunes or SoundCloud wherever you’re listening in to make sure you don’t miss the next episode. And All right, let’s get to it. Let’s get to today’s show with Charles. All right, Charles, welcome to the podcast. How’s it going?
Charles Canady 0:44
Oh, pretty good. Thanks. He just started off by introducing yourself to the listeners.
Charles Canady 0:50
My name’s Charles also known as three zero fly guy, which is a play on words with our record here Miami 305
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nice Right on and you’re based out of Miami, Florida. Correct based on Native Florida, born and raised or relocated,
Charles Canady 1:09
actually as a little bit of both born and raised here in Miami, Florida, but I lived the last 1516 years in North Carolina. Charlotte, North Carolina recently relocated about a year ago back to Miami. Okay, so,
yeah, why’d you move back?
Charles Canady 1:25
Family actually moved back to help with their business. They run like a nursing school and they wanted to like transition it over to online base type of school. So it was online as well as a physical school to go to. So I moved back to help them transition that made that transition.
Gotcha. And how long have you been working in the industry for so far?
Charles Canady 1:46
Actually, not that long. I’ve been recruiting for about 1111 months now. Okay, yeah.
What were you doing before you got into this?
Charles Canady 1:53
Before this, I was working for a retail company. I’m sorry. Not a retail company was to actually deliver for retail companies and So a marketing sales company as well did that for about two or three years I really enjoyed it, but got into the drone, the drone industry by accident Actually, it was my brother who wanted to get into the music industry. We wanted to do his own music video decided he wanted a different perspective than just the camera. So he went out and purchased a drone. And since I’ve always been known as a tech guy in the family, I was the one who actually taught myself how to how to fly so I can use it on set form.
A very cool Do you have some of that footage online from your first video?
Charles Canady 2:35
I have some of it online. I’m trying to actually transition from all my all my footage that I’ve done throughout this year online as well.
Okay, right on, are you working by yourself? Or do you have others with you? Like your family and you’re the tech guy and whatever, but are you doing the drone thing on your own?
Charles Canady 2:53
The drone thing is not really I have a partner. I have actually two partners, so one here in Miami. He’s mainly just that He does that he uses a DSLR. So he does pretty much like ground photography. And I do the air photography when we do music videos, yeah. Or any other bits that we do. So we do like events, music, videos, commercials, but then also have a part of mine back in North Carolina who recently purchased a drone as well. So we’ve actually we’re trying to create a small production team with our drones, but also acquiring additional drone and some DSLRs
as well. Okay, cool. When you’re doing your videos, how close are you getting to your actors or artists with the drone?
Charles Canady 3:36
I try to be as safe as possible because you just never know what these drones will do. You go in thick knowing that they are going to operate the way you want them to. But there’s always that chance that they will, I guess go on his own, but I think the closest I’ve ever I’ve ever gotten to a performer is let’s say this is a Total myself now about 10 feet
Okay, and did were you close enough to the start blowing their hair around or they got distracted by it or was it everything we’re not the way you want it?
Charles Canady 4:13
No we got the way I want it usually whenever you get shots like that because sometimes the director once and I love was shot and then of course a pan out or nyla was shot and going straight up. Sometimes you get the performers they get a little nervous because they’ve never been in that close to a job before right? And you know if you use them before the propellers are very powerful. I’ve only blown I guess one of one of the models hair out of made a mess with her because we had to fly someone over her for a shot that was bird’s eye view. And as we’re passing over it, yeah, it made a big mess over here. Okay, do you
find you do a lot of like establishing shots like wide shots of the whole set. area that you’re in
Charles Canady 5:02
yeah I do I do mainly why shots I prefer those because I think when it comes to the mind I guess our human minds we we kind of want to know what’s what’s going on and the entire set so we if we’re super former at a particular location you kind of want to know what that entire location looks like so I try to actually do those kind of shots where unless the viewer know where where we are if they if they’re familiar with the area
right that’s that’s a very good point. What’s your honor you fly?
Charles Canady 5:30
A drone fly fly the Phantom 4 and the Phantom 4 Pro.
Okay, do you find that you lean towards one more than the other for certain jobs are
Charles Canady 5:40
mainly use a pronoun because of all the if you’ve ever used it, the different options you can change with the camera the it makes a huge difference. I didn’t realize it at first because I started off with the Phantom four and then transition over to the pro on hopefully leading towards now the Inspire 2
Oh very cool yeah we also Phantom 4 Pro is our main machine right now and the ability to manually adjust the aperture is killer for like depending on what kind of shots you’re looking for how did you choose those ones? And why are you looking at the it
Charles Canady 6:18
so yeah so Phantom 4 was really chosen by my brother he went to of course best I guess the best buy employee sold him into it but uh i wanted to actually move up to something different and I was leaning between the Phantom 4 Pro and the Inspire 1 or two and the reason why I went with the Pro is because it was cost effective wise it made a better sense than going with the Inspire 1 for the sake that the camera out the gate is a lot better than Inspire 1 unless you went out of course and upgraded Inspire 1 camera, but I was familiar with the actual controls with the Phantom 4. So transistor Phantom 4 Pro been a lot easier but looking online and doing the research I’ve done it just to me it just cost wise it made sense to jump into the pro now and then advanced to transition to the Inspire 2
when you make your move to the Inspire 2 Are you thinking about picking up the x five or the x seven
Charles Canady 7:20
X7 that thing is a beaut! Do you just end the the different sets as you can choose? I know they’re pricey the different lenses but it’s fine it’s worth it.
Yeah, especially if you doing a lot of higher end video production and stuff like that like that land that camera and then all the lens options you have it seems like a no brainer like that’s like kind of the ultimate setup right now for a drone video production. Right?
Charles Canady 7:44
Yeah, that and that’s what we’re trying to do right now. We’re so I served in the Marine Corps here in the states and they have a program where they offer grants to us for our business unless we’re planning on doing is using that grant to purchase Inspire 2 but So the the additional lenses for the x seven as well, because I feel like if you want to be taken serious as a small production company, you want to have the right tools for it.
Yeah for sure how much of a grant do you get from your previous service? Don’t want to say that again. How much of a grant do you get from your previous service?
Charles Canady 8:25
Oh, what that? I don’t know yet. I find out December 1 when I take my first course.
Okay. Right on Well, yeah, best of hopefully you get, you know, a large chunk of that paid for because it is a considerable investment, but
Charles Canady 8:36
Yes it is.
So other than music videos, are you working in any other industries with your job?
Charles Canady 8:44
The only thing other industries have dabbled in is pretty much don’t advance. don’t invest. So one of my favorite events that I’ve done on the past was the susan g komen event. And I really and I really enjoy doing it because here in They’re local, the local chapter in Miami. They’ve done this event. This is called a breast cancer walk event every year and they’ve never incorporated a drone so this is going to be their first year actually incorporating the drone. And I really enjoyed doing it but it also brought out like it made me realize that when it comes when it comes to the individuals who I guess you will sort of say not authorize a fly now you and you kind of get the pain points of why people don’t I guess always side with drone pilots who are not doing the right things. Because if I if I’m making that clearly,
yeah, for sure. Like you find people to react to a drone thinking like he’s doing something wrong or whatever, when you’re in a crowd, is that kind of what you’re
Charles Canady 9:43
Yeah, yeah. So yeah, when I recently did it, of course, I hear the FCC law states that you can’t fly over people. So that’s one thing that I made sure. I didn’t I didn’t do since it was thousands of people there but then I found there was also royal pilots there who who were in giving authorization and they were flying over They’re flying over individuals Westin alerted the the police who, who stopped me from doing my job. So and I had to pretty much stop my job in order to tell them what was really going on.
And did they allow you to keep going after that? And once you showed them that you were doing it the right way. And you weren’t one of those rural guys.
Charles Canady 10:19
Yeah. So we went from them, making sure that I was authorized to fly. And then once I was authorized to fly, I did give them our breakdown on the rules on what I’ve been doing correctly and what the other people haven’t. But they allowed me to actually go ahead and fly off of that. That’s good.
Yeah. You hear of instances where, you know, people have been told to stop and then once they can explain themselves and say that, you know, what they’re doing, why they’re doing and how they’re doing it, and that it’s completely aboveboard, then. Yeah, it seems like people are allowed to continue their work, right? If you’re the guy that’s flying over the crowd, and you get stopped and, you know, good luck trying to explain yourself and say that you were allowed to do that right because the education is definitely getting out there with law enforcing Spent and recognizing what people can and can’t do with it. So, yeah, it sounds like you’re definitely, you know, working on the right side of the fence.
Charles Canady 11:08
Yeah, I think when it comes to, uh, I know sometimes as drone pilots, we, we can be combative because we know what’s right and what’s wrong and law enforcement. Not always does. But sometimes it’s just letting them know what it is you’re doing and events can make things a lot easier.
Yeah, for sure. What benefits you think drones have these events
Charles Canady 11:31
gives a different point of point of view that we’ve I guess, we haven’t had always had opportunity to get to you know, I remember back in the days a lot of these shots were these were helicopter shots, you know. And, of course, events like these you didn’t you didn’t go out your way to purchase a photographer to get on a helicopter to take just photos up because it was rather expensive. That was mainly done for like huge productions like no movies. But uh, I like that. I like the views that you actually get with drones on as a just a different perspective, from what we’re normally used to seeing at certain events. even think like an event that I’ve done, I did a, I did a grand opening for retail location. And using a drone for it, you know, I was actually able to sense the retail location was on the third floor and it was all glass. It was a different view of seeing the actual store than just from inside the store, but seeing from outside and seeing the interactions with the employees and the employees with the customers from a view that normally you can’t be seen.
So you’re looking through the windows and from outside looking at the interactions on the inside, right yeah, that’s very cool. I like that. Yeah, if you have the right windows and the right lighting then that would work. That would work great.
Charles Canady 12:48
Yeah, I actually bought my one of my favorite scenes that I’ve done with that kind of scenario was did a music video where it was stuck on the 30th floor of a condo and it was we did that Acting scene where the artist and the model we’re getting into a dispute. And what we did with the drone was the drone flew in from the city straight to the condo. And it was it was pretty much all glass so you can see everything was going on. So you from the drones view, you can see the interaction between the two go from deliver room and then transition to the bedroom and the drone was you know, I was actually able to follow them as they moved from room to room. As if it was like an invisible wall, which was kind of a really dope shot.
Very nice. Yeah, I like the even just hearing that that sounds awesome. That’d be that’d be a very cool shot. I could see the the production side of that being totally head over heels with your footage. Yeah, something like that. What’s your favorite piece of drone software? Like do you use any of the automation tools or do you stick strictly with DJI Go?
Charles Canady 13:55
I stick mainly with DJI Go because I prefer being in control. I is rare that I actually allowed the drone to fly on the phone I prefer getting the shots the way I want to get them. Yeah. Mainly if I if I do use the the automated side of it it’s mainly because I’m trying to get from one point to one to precise point from point A to point B but at a precise location I know sometimes this you can you can I but sometimes you just came Burt, there’s no way you could actually do the view and that an example was when I did the the condo shot is because it it’s I’m going from you know 400 feet all the way down to 200 feet, but then trying to get to actual building precise building so then I’ll use maybe the automated out of the auto function there and then transition to controlling myself but I’ve never used the other other tools out there like the autopilot or para flight plan. If I use any kind of drone software is property like you’ve heard of sun surveyor?
No, I haven’t.
Charles Canady 15:05
Okay, so sun surveyor allows you to actually it gives you the coordinates of where you want to fly to get a good shot of the sun as well as the moon. So it gives you a coordinates of where the moon is precisely on a time and day you’re at
does it give you the angles based on like on a map this is that the one I’m thinking of? Yeah, okay, I have looked at that. Yeah, that that’s a great tool.
Charles Canady 15:26
Yeah, so that’s mainly what I use on for the actual software side now. What about you? What are you using? I know this energy for myself, but what do you use?
Yeah, mostly. Mostly DJI Go 4. I’ve applied 99% in attitude mode or an ATTI mode. Just I find that the smoothness you can achieve with that, in comparison in GPS mode is it’s you can’t even compare them once you start flying in ATTI mode. Before I switched over to it, I didn’t really know the difference. I was looking at my footage and thought this is great and I started notice a little bit of not not necessarily wobble but just enough of a fidget when the drone is you know, looking for his GPS location right and I started to think like there’s got to be a way around this and then I once I switched to ATTI mode, then that erase all of that it just obviously you have to put in a lot more effort when you’re flying. But yeah, the smoothness you can achieve it that is is great. So yeah, mostly with that. I also use Autopilot as well too, depending on the type of shot I’m doing. But for any kind of video production and stuff I stay away from that. But for still photos if I’m doing a site or a job that I’m going to replicate photos on again and again and again, I’ll use autopilot to set up the shots once and then just push the button and let her rip again and again. Every time I go back there. So no sense in reinventing the wheel especially for the photo side of things right.
Any favorite business software or tools, any video editing or
Charles Canady 16:58
now of course I use Adobe Premiere Pro Favorite use for editing now I’m not sure if you’ve kept up on what’s going on with the job my favorite like my favorite software that they put out for businesses, the flight hub which you know if you have partners out there in for myself who wants to you know eventually open up a production company that flight hub is amazing to be able to watch live you have all your drones out there in the field. That’s pretty dope. Have you started using it already? No habit I looked actually a couple days ago to see about purchasing it. And for some reason I’m not sure how I’m not sure if it’s just software based or if it’s hardware based because it said it was sold out and I’m not sure how software sold out. But it thought a pricey sigh anything that rough around I think was $100 a month to use it. And that was just a basic which gives you about five drones to as you can view at one time. But yet if you go up I think they’re like them. I’m not sure what the Max’s but there’s like a plan that gives you like 10 plus drones. You could actually view all our I feel very nice.
I know, I just received an email from them. And I got a 14 day trial period for it. So even if it is sold out, you can try and sign up for that. So I don’t have the link offhand right now, but what I’ll do is I’ll put it on the show notes for this and then I’ll I’ll email it to you right after we talk. And you can apply for that 14 day free trial myself and have a look at Yeah, cuz I like I have any I haven’t activated mine yet. Just the weather here has not been conducive to flying since I got the code a couple days ago. So I think today, I’m going to activate it and then just kind of watch and see how it goes during our flights. today and for the next two weeks while we’ve got the free demo. But yeah, I agree that that’s, if you’re if you’re working with a team, and you have several drones in the field that I think and I’m not having used it, it looks like it’s going to be a very good tool for keeping tabs on what your fleet is doing and what your operators are doing. How do you price your services?
Charles Canady 18:59
my services I price it actually varies depending on what kind of job I’m doing. Usually when I’m doing with my partners, it’s usually a fixed price. But when I’ve done like advertisements or commercials I do up by hourly and then also charge by the minute based off if I have to edit it myself. So if I have to edit it, I’m charging that additional editing price. And that’s permitted of video that they want to have in total.
Do you charge hourly for those kind of jobs because you find you you’re on site but there’s a lot of downtime because not everybody else is ready or they’re working on something else.
Charles Canady 19:38
Okay, what what are your rates if you don’t mind sharing
Charles Canady 19:43
my rates, usually they’re not that bad. It’s $100 an hour without charge, okay. But then also, for certain for certain situations. I do manipulate the price like facility Coleman. I didn’t charge anything at all. This is a foundation and doing another Other foundation as well, which I’m not going to charge them at any rate at all as well. Do you do quite a bit of pro bono work? Or is it just very selective for something that you feel is a good cause? It’s very selective. If I feel like it a benefit individually as well as myself and in a positive way, then of course, I’m going to look at options. I’m not charging them or I’m charging a fairly low rate. Gotcha.
Do you find that that’s helped? You get jobs in like with other, like paying clients by having those pro bono ones under your belt?
Charles Canady 20:31
Yeah, does I you’d be amazed Oh, of course, well, as a drone pilot while you’re out in the field, you draw attention to yourself and as how I’ve likened it to somebody call me video. I was having fun doing that. But while I was out there, there was actually another gentleman who worked for the advertisement company. And he’s been doing the Susan G. Komen events as well. But he came to me and told me that he was his videos always look the same each year, and he wanted a different perspective, which is what We talked about earlier about what drones can offer is a different view that normally you can get with a camera. And he solicited my services I end up actually becoming he was one of my paid clients as well. And I did two jobs for him for his for his actual advertisement company.
And those are paid, right?
Charles Canady 21:18
Right on. That worked out good.
Charles Canady 21:21
This leads into my next question. If you had to start all over again, in a new city or country, what would you do to market yourself?
Charles Canady 21:28
Okay, so this right here, it’s a good really good question. And the reason why it’s a great question is because it’s almost as if I’m doing that right now myself. Okay. So when I when I first got into the drone industry, it was like I was pretty much thrown into it. Not much planning was done. It was mainly trial and error. What I’ve recently done to try to rebrand myself is create my own Instagram for just mainly my work. But not just that what I an idea that came to me that was talking with with a friend of mine And you may have done this before, but uh, we talked about actually how to how to get my name out there. And one thing that I want to do and what I’m actually planning on doing is, is doing a lot of shots of the city of the city of Miami, but also tagging individuals who are high ranking officials in the city that would benefit from the actual videos as well. So if I’m doing shots of the city that pings it in a positive way that may attract tourists. Why not? You know, when I put post these videos online tag, maybe the mayor or the governor of Miami, let them allow them to see that I’m actually promoting the city in a way that may or may not have been done before.
I love it. That is a great idea. That’s something I haven’t thought of before like I i’ve tagged you know, like the relevant businesses and stuff like that. But if you can tag the influencers in your city, especially like the mayor and other the largest decision makers. I could see that really working out to your benefit. Yeah. I really like that idea. If I know you’re kind of still in that startup phase right now. But if you had to start all over again, being the only 11 months and nobody had to start again, what would you do differently? You said there was a lot of trial and error and stuff like that. But is there anything specific that you would do different?
Charles Canady 23:21
I would think what I would do specific as one really dive in and understand drones in general, I think when I first got into it, I thought it was somebody but it’s not really easy. And there was a lot of checks that that I should have been doing in the beginning that I wasn’t which cost me I’ve gone through two drones already. So they’re not really cheap on that end, but I would have made sure I had the proper training and knowing what to do, like a pre flight checklist, which will make sense. Another thing will also be with his destruction myself to where I’m not bad. Everywhere um, I have somewhat of a solid plan or direction I want to go
you have a pre flight checklist now Are you still
Charles Canady 24:10
know I have a pre flight checklist? Yeah,
did that was the lack of a checklist did that cause you to lose your drones before?
Charles Canady 24:17
The second one? Yes. So the first one was actually it was my fault. It was really it crashed I would say I was is my fault. I wasn’t painted surrounding and I hit a tree in the film. But the second one was a it was a battery malfunction. That if I would have caught it in advance wouldn’t have caused the drone to go haywire to fly out into the ocean.
Oh no, I didn’t drop into the water.
Charles Canady 24:47
Yeah, we actually did it. I’d out in the ocean not and that’s one thing that if you’re if you’re not doing if we don’t have a pre flight checklist is beneficial for yourself but also anyone surrounding areas property or people, it’s beneficial for them as well that way you’re not endangering others.
Yeah, I agree. It’s, it’s good to have that that checklist ready, because it’s going to save you from you know, any mishaps like say the props weren’t quite connected, right? Or the battery was a little bit off or whatever, you know, whatever could come up that you could catch before you fly, but it also gives you a chance to record any of the emergency information of like, if something goes wrong, who do you call in the area that you’re in? Right? So yeah, I’m a big fan of preflight checklist as well.
Charles Canady 25:33
an add on to that the one thing I would change as well and I’ve, I’ve gotten a lot better than this is when you as a drone pilot, when I first got into this, I found myself less not as not on the same tier as actual photographer, which is not the mentality you want to have. You’re pretty much you are a photographer, you are on the same par. And so when they will ask me for to get a particular shot. I remember back in the days if I wasn’t if I wasn’t comfortable with it, I would push myself to try to get the shot. But now I found myself if I feel like is not best for the drone is not best for the surrounding people in the area is not just the safest way to get in the shot. I just won’t do it anymore.
Yeah, it’s just good way to look at it because you’re ultimately responsible for everyone’s safety when you’ve got that up there, right? Because you’re in command of that drone. And they can say I want this I want that all day long. But if it’s not going to be something safe that you’re going to, you know, risk your equipment or risk the safety of somebody else. And yeah, I agree. It’s it hurts sometimes when you turn something down because you think like, I’m missing out on this job I’m missing or the money or whatever, but ultimately it comes down to you’re gonna you’re the one that has to answer for it. Not the guy that said, Hey, can you get me that shot? right if something did go wrong?
Charles Canady 26:49
That is correct.
All right, Charles, that was a great chat. Where can people find you online? What’s your social media websites, everything like that.
Charles Canady 26:58
There you can find me a core On Twitter and Instagram at three the number 300 spelled out fly guys that’s lower three zero fly guys is my handle on Twitter as well as Instagram if you want to look for me on facebook it’s you can find me at three zero fly guys as well facebook.com for SAS three zero fly guys.
Okay, you have a website as well too with your material on it are you mostly rely on social media
Charles Canady 27:28
right now it’s going to be also three zero fly guys we have the domain pretty much ready working with of course a company to get my, my promote my real up on there. So I can actually show off, I guess to the public out there.
Alright, cool. Right on. Well, thanks again, Charles. I was That was great. It was really good to you know, hear how you’re using your drones with you know, music videos and events and things like that. And yeah, that was awesome. Do you have any questions for me? Will you for the wrap things up?
Charles Canady 27:57
Thank you for having me. And hopefully one day when I’m in Canada I’m in your area we can fly. Thank you so much all together.
Yeah, for sure. Just bring your gloves if you come into winter. We’ll do. Alright. Thanks a lot. Have a good day. Thanks for the chat.
Charles Canady 28:12
Thank you. Bye.
I hope you enjoyed that interview with Charles. And you can employ some of those takeaways in your business. I’m a big fan of what he mentioned with tagging the influencers in your city, or your area with the photos to try and get in front of them. If you have somebody that you’d like to be on the show, or if you would like to be on the show yourself, be sure to hit me up at The Drone Trainer. com just use the contact form there and I’ll get right in touch with you or in touch with the person that you would like on the show. And if you haven’t subscribed yet, be sure to do that. And I’ll be talking to you next week with the next episode. Until then, keep the spinny side up.