Houston Matters

Flying Drones for College Credit at UH

(Above: A drone hovers overhead as University of Houston students prepare to shoot video for a class project. Photo: Michael Hagerty, Houston Public Media)They’re filming a remake of The Fast and the Furious movies on the University of Houston campus. Well, sort of. Instead of Dodge Chargers and Corvettes, they’re using golf carts. And instead […]

Drone Silhouette(Above: A drone hovers overhead as University of Houston students prepare to shoot video for a class project. Photo: Michael Hagerty, Houston Public Media)They’re filming a remake of The Fast and the Furious movies on the University of Houston campus. Well, sort of.

Instead of Dodge Chargers and Corvettes, they’re using golf carts. And instead of Vin Diesel at the wheel, there are students. They’re using a drone to emulate a (much slower) version of a chase scene from The Fast and the Furious films in order to demonstrate the video production capabilities of drones.

In the past, getting aerial footage of anything was cost prohibitive to many filmmakers. But now, with the explosion of high-quality video cameras and relatively inexpensive unmanned aerial vehicles, stunning aerial footage is much more accessible to the everyday producer, like UH student Michelle Magallon, who says she wants to work in the film industry someday.

“In those big productions, they use helicopters and everything like that,” Magallon said. “And this we can just use a simple drone. The quality is the same…I guess our biggest point in this is anybody can be a creator.”

And that’s why Temple Northup wanted to start a drone production class. He’s a communication professor at the University of Houston. In his three-week summer class, students learn how to fly drones, how get their FAA licenses, and about all the regulations and ethical issues surrounding drone use.

He told Houston Matters producer Michael Hagerty the idea behind the class.

“As a school of communication, I think it’s really important that we keep up with the industry,” Northup said. “That we’re innovative. That we’re preparing our students to go out and get jobs. And you’ve seen an absolute explosion in the media field — but really in all industries — of the use of drones for a variety of purposes…from real estate to journalists to public relations and advertising — everyone is using drones. It’s really opened up aerial photography in ways that used to be cost prohibitive.”

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