Last Night’s Golden Globes Featured A Red-Carpet Drone – But Not From An FAA-Authorized Firm

Technology continues to invade Hollywood, and last night’s Golden Globes was no exception. The event not only saw Amazon and Netflix winning big, but also featured the first-ever Red Carpet drone. On Sunday, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, a drone provided by DJI Global was used to capture footage of the celebs and their guests and other Red Carpet moments. What’s interesting, however, the drone was not from one of the six film companies the FAA cleared in September to use drones for commercial filming purposes.

For background, the Federal Aviation Administration officially opened up the doors to select film companies who wanted to offer – or already were providing, according to their websites – drone aircraft for the purpose of filming movies, commercials, music videos, and other footage. The decision at the time was notable because before then, the FAA had only approved two commercial drone operations, both for Alaskan oil operations, The Wall Street Journal reported at the time.

These six companies included Snaproll Media LLC, Aerial MOB LLC, Flying Cam LLC, HeliVideo Productions LLC, Pictorvision, Inc., and RC Pro Productions Consulting LLC dba Vortex Aerial.

Including drones authorized for other commercial operations, like real estate footage, there are now a total of 14 FAA exceptions for 13 companies in the U.S.

Apparently, DJI Global worked around the problem of not being “officially approved” by the FAA by offering its drone to the Golden Globes free of charge. A company representative responded to our inquiry about this, confirming that it had filmed at the Beverly Hilton early Saturday and on Sunday with permission from the hotel, adding:

“This is non-commercial work,” the company explained. “We are not being compensated to fly here.”

But even if DJI Global didn’t get directly paid, it did get some free promotion from the event. The Golden Globes tweeted about the drone referencing DJI’s Twitter account, and Carson Daly even posted footage of the company’s aircraft to his Instagram, joking “New 2015 red carpet trend….DRONES!! Famous middle aged balding men beware.”

DJI Global also confirmed the drone they used was the DJI Inspire 1, which includes carbon fiber arms, and holds a 4K camera that lets filmmakers shoot 4K video and capture 12 megapixel photos. The legs also raise up, allowing the camera to swivel 360 degrees. The camera lens consists of 9 separate elements, including an aspherical element for clarity, plus offers Adobe DNG RAW support, its website says. The drone is dual-operated, with one remote for flight control and another for camera control.

Though DJI Global appears to be passing off its Red Carpet drone as a “recreational,” non-commercial flight, it looks like it still would have broken the FAA’s rules. The LAX airport is 12 miles away, so it didn’t have to report its operations to the airport control tower – but it definitely intentionally flew over unprotected persons, which the FAA advised against with a reminder of its rules back in December.

Update: DJI Global added that the drone was flown before the Globes arrivals started, and a person ran ahead of the flight crew to ensure the drone was not flying directly over any construction crew on journalists setting up for the event. Carlson Daly’s video (above), however, seems to tell a different story.