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Rick Ringbakk

The Pug Blog

by: Rick Ringbakk
Co-founder and Executive Producer.
March 8, 2023

Lose the Jib. Get the Drone.

Replacing Your Jib with a Drone: How to Save Money on Your Next Production

Drones have changed the game for what is possible on TV, film, and commercial projects. Since coming into their own, drones have quickly become the affordable alternative to expensive helicopter and fixed wing aerial platforms. But a helicopter isn’t the only large, pricey piece of equipment that a drone can replace on your next shoot. In many cases, drones can also save productions the huge footprint and time consuming expense of a jib.


Armed with rock steady gimbals and the ability to map repeatable flight patterns, today’s drones can capture almost any shot you would traditionally get with a jib. Whether it's sweeping hero shots of a car, yacht or house that you would traditionally get with a Jimmy Jib, or telescopic shots that would require a very expensive Technocrane, a drone can do it all. Add to that the versatility of being able to seamlessly transition from a jib shot into a full blown aerial, and vice versa, and it quickly becomes apparent that a drone can be the most creative cinematic tool on the set.


Consider a typical shoot. If a jib is being used for the first shot, that operator will need to be on set an hour before any of the other camera operators just to build and balance the gear. And if you need to move locations, the jib will be out of commission for hours in order to accommodate the breakdown and rebuild. Even repositioning the jib on the set can be incredibly time consuming. Most drones are ready to fly the moment you take them out of the case. They can be repositioned instantaneously. Lens changes don’t require a huge rebalancing act. The production can have several company moves, without sacrificing their most important shooting platform in the process. Finally, a drone can also easily reach locations that a cumbersome jib arm can’t. Is the shot on a mountain outcrop, or location that can only be accessed by foot? The drone can get there with ease, while the jib could be nearly - if not totally, impossible.


On the bottom line, this all adds up to savings for the production. If aerials are already in the budget, then the entire jib line can be saved. Even if they’re not, the price of a high end drone and expert pilot are comparable or less than a single Jimmy Jib, and far less than a more expensive Technocrane and the multiple bodies required for its operation. Couple that with the time saved in the schedule and creative flexibility that a drone can offer, and it quickly becomes the most affordable way to capture many of the shots that are required.

Of course, there are times when a drone can’t replace the jib: FAA restrictions, shooting over crowds, or when the drone noise will ruin sync dialogue. But in a lot of cases where a production is planning for a jib, the question should be asked: would a drone actually be better?

Check out these great examples:

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