The city and the county of Los Angeles have issued nearly 60 permits for drones on film and TV sets in the last year, according to data from FilmL.A., the nonprofit group that handles permits for the L.A. region. TV commercial directors have been especially quick to adopt the new technology, using drones to film commercials for such brands as Tesla, Chrysler, and Nike. Drones also have been used on several TV shows, including HBO's "The Leftovers," and CBS' "Supergirl." A spot for Audi even features drones on screen, with the flying machines besieging workers in the company parking lot.
The growing use of drones is changing the way that movies and TV shows are made, giving consumers a new perspective on the action. Film industry experts say they could open up new possibilities of filmmaking in much the same way that lightweight cameras did in the 1960s with movies such as "Easy Rider" and the Steadicam did in 1970s. That camera-stabilizing system, with its distinctive arm, was famously used in the climbing-the-stairs scene in "Rocky."
Filmmakers contend that drones create more distinctive shots because they can go where manned aircraft can't — dropping down into narrow spaces such as alleyways and canyons and even flying through doors and windows.