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Craig Miller

Why You Need To Buy A Drone

It’s time to showcase your work from new heights.





This article was originally published, in a slightly different form, in December 2016.

THE DRONE IS a revolutionary platform for those still and video cameras we view as being invaluable to our business. A drone takes our image capturing ability to new heights – pun intended.

Because some graphic installations can be so huge, it’s difficult to stand at ground level and capture their enormity and visual drama. The only way to visually encapsulate a graphically adorned structure like a stadium wrapped inside and out, a huge tradeshow booth, a decorated hall with hundreds of individual graphics, or the tops of wrapped racecar haulers and motorhomes, is to capture images by flying the camera above, around, and through using a drone.

We once printed and installed a 150-foot EA Sports logo on the top of a stadium for the NBA All-Star Game. The only way the image could be captured for the broadcast was for the customer to rent a helicopter. With a drone, we could have provided that service for a fraction of the cost of the helicopter, pilot, and videographer.


There are two options if you decide to make the move to drones for dramatic image and video capture. The easiest is to find a certified drone airman with a capable drone in your area and hire his or her services. This option won’t be cheap, but it will be significantly less expensive than renting helicopter time. And you can’t fly a helicopter indoors.

The second choice is to buy and fly a drone of your own. The good news is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released regulations to clarify the rules for legally flying drones for commercial purposes. The FAA now allows us to legally fly drones and set the parameters for how they are to be flown.


Final Purchase

Drones are getting more capable, smaller, easier to fly, and less expensive to buy. So, the beginner now has a much lower response cost to become a remote pilot airman in terms of learning curve and price of admission, and these new drones are becoming more capable with longer flight times and ever-better camera systems. Cameras have increased in resolution and other qualitative measures that mirror the development in handheld cameras. The best systems include a stabilizing gimbal for the camera. These gimbals typically employ a six-axis gyroscopically controlled mounting system where the image capture remains both stable and perfectly horizontal regardless of the motion or altitude of the drone, just like they do in Hollywood.

So, will you join the market, become one of those remote pilot airmen, and take your print shop’s image capture to another level?

Craig Miller, is president and CEO of Las Vegas-based Pictographics (, where he is also director of military and law-enforcement projects.



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