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video production faqs

Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a list of the questions we are most commonly asked. But, if you have any other questions at all, please shoot Robert a text, call, or email.
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Video Production FAQs

  • Producers
  • Directors
  • Cinematographers
  • Camera Operators
  • Aerial Cinematographers
  • Drone Pilots
  • Russian Arm & Crew
  • The Starling CineVan; the ultimate mobile video production vehicle
  • Production Management
  • Production Coordinators
  • Precision Drivers
  • Gaffers
  • Grips
  • Electricians
  • Production Assistants
  • Location Audio Recordists
  • Hair & Makeup
  • Location Managers
  • Set Construction
  • Transportation
  • Catering
  • Craft Services
  • Assistant Production Office Coordinator
  • Production Accountant

Explore our work and see for yourself.

Yes, of course we can. We're known for our fantastic location work and bringing the best crew, production gear, camera, and lighting equipment to any location, including the Caribbean.

 

Those days might start out filming on the beach, shooting from a yacht, chasing cars on a race track, a sit-down celebrity interview, corporate videos, a remote mountain top, and end up on a 100x100 sound stage with cyc walls and green screens big enough for a truck or cozy enough to interview a celebrity or sports figure.

 

Just like our camera and lighting packages, if you need a studio, we'll either create one on your location or rent the perfect studio for you and your client. Need a small green screen studio for a quick product shot or an on-camera spokesperson? Need a colossal studio or soundstage to shoot a semi-truck or an automotive commercial? We've been there, done that, and will find the right sized stage to suit your needs and budget.

As a native Floridian and 25-year veteran filming in Florida, whether Orlando, Tampa, Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Sarasota, or Jacksonville, we know hundreds of unique, film-friendly locations we can suggest. 

However, many locations require a professional location manager's specialized talents and knowledge. As a result, they play a critical role in film and video production in Florida and every other state. A seasoned Location Manager has a catalog of thousands of the best and most challenging to get filming locations, shooting locations, and owners they've cultivated trust and access with over the years. Professional video production Location Managers have all the right people on speed-dial. They also will handle the ins and outs of permitting, parking and access.

Drone FAQs

Starling Productions complies 100% with all FAA, Federal, State, and local municipality guidelines related to the operation of drones and traditional aircraft such as helicopters. In addition, we follow industry best practices for operation, maintenance, and safety, including those outlined in our UAV / Drone Operations Manual.

Please call or text us at 407-462-7794 with the date, time of day, location, job name, and a description of what you want to accomplish. The address, or at least across the street, is mandatory for us to ensure it is a legal and safe airspace for drones.

Yes, we have small, medium, and large drones suitable for any size project and any camera.

Yes, we can. However, we do not fly directly over humans or moving cars that are not part of the shoot! It's simply not worth the risk to the people, our company or yours. Note, with our wide selection of drones, lenses, and cameras; we can fly slightly offset above and safely away while still looking like we're overhead.

Up to roughly 65mph, and with a good tailwind, we've seen 84mph. The maximum speed allowed by the FAA is 100mph.

The drones can fly quite high, but the FAA limits legal flight to 400 ft above ground level. We are allowed to use the tops of most buildings and structures as our "ground level," with a few specific exceptions depending on the location and time of day. With enough time and planning, we can request special authorization from the FAA for higher altitudes. It's not hard; it just takes time and experience. We've legally flown as high as 1600 ft AGL, even on the Las Vegas Strip.

Drone flights are limited to Visual Line of Sight (VLOS). That means if we can see our aircraft with an unaided eye, we can fly that far. With a visually cluttered background of trees, buildings, or mountains, that might be 800-1000 ft away from us. In the wide-open blue sky with good light, we've been out as far as 5000 ft +/-.

Battery life depends on temperature, windy conditions, fast flights chasing vehicles, and the aircraft itself. Most flights are roughly 20 minutes, except with heavy lift drones that trade their impressive lift capacity for flight times of 6-10 minutes. Our safety policy and good practices dictate we begin returning to base at 30-35% and land at 20-25% capacity. We have enough battery sets to fly for at least two hours without recharging — and in remote locations, we have portable generators. And, even better, we have our self-contained Starling CineVan with 750ah of batteries and four solar panels to keep us running all day.

We do! We're your Easy Button and will work with and notify all entities as needed.

We have complete backup systems with us for our jobs. And, in most cases, we have a backup for our backups.

In most cases, we already have authorizations, unlocks, and waivers in place 24/7/365. However, when a shoot does require special FAA authorization, there are a few automated online options with the FAA. And then, there are the completely custom requests that need to be reviewed by FAA agents at the Federal and Local levels. Those can be approved in less than an hour or take a week. Again, we will do everything to make it happen for you, but approvals at this level are up to the FAA.

Yes, that is possible as long as they have experience and only if we are there as the Remote Pilot in Charge. Your pilot will need to show their current license and competence in a controlled test flight.

Absolutely! We love working with other camera operators! It is beneficial if they have experience operating with remote heads, gimbals, and joysticks. Even if they are not, we're happy to let them give it a try.

Yes, of course! We have a stable of some of the best camera operators in the world! This is the most common approach for the best results and fewest takes. The aerial choreography between the drone pilot and camera operator is a finely tuned dance. Each shot is designed and developed before launch and continues as the drone operator pilots the aircraft through the three-dimensional airspace. The camera operator follows and focuses on the subject and scene. In addition, we can arrange non-union and union operators.

The more eyes on the drone and the flight area, the better in complex and heavily populated locations. The FAA usually won't stipulate X number of VOs, but they'll expect us to plan accordingly when reviewing the flight plan. Most jobs don't require a VO, but some situations like big music festivals with 100,000+ attendees might need 6-8 VOs. But, again, it is all about safety, and we don't cut corners on that for you or us.

No, most standard production policies specifically exclude drones. However, we carry up to $5m of dedicated UAV General Liability coverage 24/7/365.

No worry, we have your back. We carry the highest levels of specialty drone insurance of $5m UAV General Liability. Our policies are in full force year-round through a dedicated aircraft insurer and broker. We do not take shortcuts with low-rated insurers offering hourly or daily policies purchased through mobile phone apps. We take care of everything for you, including issuing drone-specific Certificates of Insurance to you, your locations, clients, and municipal permitting agencies as needed.

We cannot fly in the rain, a light mist, or even heavy fog. The strong downward pressure of the drone prop wash compresses the air and moisture to such a degree that it becomes supersaturated air and water droplets that foul the drone motors. In areas around Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, Palm Beach, Miami, Daytona, Kennedy Space Center / NASA, Atlanta, Savannah, Charleston, and Charlotte —afternoon storms are a fact of life. Therefore, all productions in the areas should plan for wind, rain and weather delays regardless of location.

Yes, we can! Our drones are powerful, GPS stabilized, and very stable. Our baseline safety limit for wind speed is roughly +/- 20 mph in urban areas and around +/- 25-30 mph in open or rural areas. Keep in mind that while working near buildings, an ordinarily safe 15-20 mph wind funneling between the buildings creates a venturi effect that can pressurize a 15-mph wind into 30 mph gusts with insane currents and eddies blasting out between the buildings. If we can fly safely, we will fly. But the pilot always has the final say about the safety of a flight.

Another aspect of high wind is that it shortens battery life and flight times due to the motors working harder to stabilize the aircraft.

We get this question all the time. Any of the DJI consumer drones are an excellent place to start. The DJI Mavic Mini version is a great product, easy and fun to fly, and is just below the FAA weight limit for registering it as long as it is for fun only.

There's so much misinformation about the when/where of drones, and there are thousands of pages of FAA rules and regulations, local laws, state laws, and of course, that thing called gravity! The good news is we've figured all of that out for you, and you don't have to worry about it.

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Cinevan FAQs

Our 2021 Starling CineVan is the ultimate mobile video production vehicle and camera van. Complete with all-day solar power, air conditioning, all-terrain tires, security cameras, work desk, 120v power with 20 USB ports, and much more. The comfortable RV motorhome-like custom interior design means you and your team can work full days and never need to hook up to land power — no matter the terrain.

 

Starling CineVan Specs:

  • 2021 Mercedes Sprinter
  • High Roof – 75" high ceilings
  • 170" wheelbase
  • Extended cargo body
  • Two-wheel drive
  • MBUX 10" Touch Screen electronics
  • GPS
  • Sirius XM & Apple Play
  • 265/70/17 BF Goodrich All-Terrain KO2 Tires
  • 6 Cyl Mercedes Turbo Diesel
  • 425-mile range
  • 5000 lb towing capacity

You can rent the Starling CineVan, but rental requires a Starling Productions driver present at all times. The complex nature of the solar charging system; 750ah lithium batteries; WiFi; electrical system (and more) — plus the size of the CineVan requires a trained driver and caretaker. Our drivers are accomplished production professionals and can perform other production positions on-set, too.

While stationary, 3-4 people can sit and work together in the front production office/editing area, while 2-3 people can work and load in/out from the rear camera cargo area. In addition, the sizable 9x14ft exterior side awning adds an even more secure production workspace.

There are four legal seats in the CineVan with DOT required seat belts, including driver and front passenger seats. In addition, the RV-style bench sits two more people for short 75–125-mile trips. (Think of those two seats as comfortable but tight airplane-like seats when driving down the road — not recommended for extended trips.)

Yes, all of that! We have plenty of power to spare with eight standard household 120v power outlets and 20 USB charging ports.

From inception, the Starling CineVan was designed to operate stand-alone without external power connections. Our 750ah smart lithium batteries are charged by five high-efficiency solar panels and the custom twin alternator system. Additionally, the Starling CineVan electrical system is run from RV-style shore power or one of our ultra-quiet Honda portable generators.

The 750ah lithium battery system stores enough energy to power the AC and lighting for at least eight hours. If you're not using the AC, it will power the van's interior for days. Running the twin alternator system and diesel engine will fully charge from empty in 30-60 minutes.

Absolutely! The heat and humidity of Florida and the Southeastern US are legendary. Our 15,000 BTU Coleman Mach 8 AC unit is ultra-chill and ultra-quiet for even the hottest and most humid production days. LLumar ceramic solar blocking window tinting on every window tames the direct Florida sun. So, for those brisk mornings and chilly days, the Coleman Mach 8 switches to heat mode just like your home HVAC system. The Starling CineVan is double insulated top to bottom like a traditional home.

Yes, we have a state-of-the-art, no-smell Dry Flush toilet by Laveo. The toilet function is designed to be used by a tiny group of 2-4 people max. This is NOT a toilet system meant to handle the needs of more than 2-4 people per day. We can help you arrange Porta-Potties or VIP Honey Wagons if you need more than that.

Think of it more like a kitchenette. There's a sink with hot and cold running water, a multi-function microwave/convection/air fryer oven, and a single-induction burner stove. There's also a coffee maker and refrigerator to store your favorite beverages and snacks. The van is stocked with all the basics: cups, plates, flatware, napkins, etc. We also offer an option of a portable grill if you want to go full BBQ mode!

The attached Fiamma F80 awning pops out to provide a 9x14 ft shelter from direct sun and light rain. It's a great place to prep cameras, wrap out, eat lunch, chill or offer Craft Services. We also provide standard 10x10 and 13x13 EZ-Up tents.

The interior of the Starling CineVan has almost twenty 3200k recessed LED downlights arranged in three fully dimmable zones. In addition to the ceramic tinted windows, there are custom window shades for a complete blackout to edit, color grade, and manage media.

We call them "Zombie Lights," but they're three ultra-bright 9" LED light bars mounted on the exterior, two on the back and one on the side. These ultra-bright lights make pre-dawn camera builds a breeze and late-night wrap-out quick and efficient. Gear gets back into proper cases; inventory can be checked and confirmed. No gear left behind!

No, but there are two comfortable swivel/reclining captain's chairs for power naps or breaks.

Yes, a dedicated 5G LTE cellular WiFi hotspot will accommodate up to ten users. Note: The WiFi system does not support uploading or downloading large video files and photos.

The Starling CineVan has an external antenna and robust WeBoost cellular signal booster system. It works with all cellular networks, including 5G, and amplifies your 1-2 bar signal up to 3-4 bars.

The van is protected by a residential style SimpliSafe security system monitored and connected to the cloud via the WeBoost cellular booster. In addition, there are two motion sensors, an HD camera, two water leak sensors, a temperature sensor, a smoke sensor, and a carbon monoxide/gas sensor. Everything is controlled by a built-in keypad and real-time remote iPhone app.

The Starling CineVan is NOT a 4x4. It is 4x2 with all-terrain off-road tires and an advanced suspension system that creates higher clearance and more stability on the road. It will eat up gravel roads, sandy beaches, and washboard forest roads. Driving open fields and rough spots are not a problem; it was designed to do exactly that and do it well.

The 216-cu ft rear cargo area is large enough to hold two camera carts, three camera packages, five LED lighting packages, ENG audio, production monitors, G&E, Honda generators, and all the accessories to support them. Our custom 9ft x 36" roll-up ramp makes load-in and load-out safe, fast, and efficient.

Mobile video production powers on camera batteries, monitor batteries, lighting batteries, and coffee! We've built ample (20 sq ft) countertop space with top-mounted 120v power receptacles to run 8-10 big brick quad battery chargers with room to spare. In addition, the van has 20 USB 5w power outlets for phones, tablets, and more. Our production battery system of choice for cameras, monitors, and lighting is Anton Bauer XT gold mounts and chargers.

Sometimes humans and gear need a rinse or wash, especially after a long production day. Our built-in outdoor shower with hot and cold running water extends and retracts out the back of the van — and a large privacy curtain makes a quick shower and that ride home or wrap dinner just a bit less sticky and sweaty!

Our factory towing package is ready and rated for up to 5,000 pounds.

Covid FAQs

Despite what you read or hear on national media outlets, as of November 2021, Florida has the lowest infection rates and hospitalizations in the entire US. Still, that doesn't mean our communities or crews are cavalier about it. If it is important to you, it is important to us, and as our client, we will conduct your shoot without hesitation to the compliance level you are comfortable with. Generally, 99% of our crew members are fully vaccinated by personal choice, and all of us are willing to test. 

 

I am a trained and certified Covid Compliance Officer and will suggest or hire a professional team to oversee every aspect of testing to your specifications. Need a fully vaccinated crew, testing two days before the shoot, same-day on-set testing, and supplies for 2 to 300 people? Want a licensed EMT on-set? Yes, we can, yes, we will! No one on our set will force you to mask or test if you don't want to. If someone on our crew wants to mask up or be socially distant, they can and are free to do so.

Video Production Rental FAQs

Hands down, the Sony FS7Mk2 video cameras, Sony FX9 full-frame cinema cameras, and the ARRI Alexa Mini cameras are our most requested cameras for production and rentals. Our most popular lighting packages are the LitePanels Astra 6x LED and LitePanels Gemini LED lights, followed in close second place with Aputure, Astera, and ARRI Skypanels.

We have a straightforward Rental Agreement you can complete electronically on your phone, tablet, or computer. You can even do it the old-fashioned way. Here is what we need to approve your rental:

 

  • Valid Certificate of Insurance from a US-based insurer naming Starling Productions as the Loss Payee and Additionally Insured
  • Completed, signed, and dated Rental Agreement
  • Photo or copy of your valid Driver's License and the credit card you are using to pay for and guarantee the rental

Rental equipment pickup is at 4:00 pm, and returns are due no later than 10 am. There are no pickups without all paperwork, insurance, signatures, ID, and payment method in place.

Maybe, sometimes, but not always. Our standard hours are M-F 8a-6p EST. We'll do our best to accommodate slight variances and make it easy for you. Weekend and after-hours pick up and return are $250 each plus a minimum rental item charge of $250. Better yet, let us deliver and pick up from you!

Yes, we can, within reason and based on staff availability. Our production equipment and camera rentals service areas are:

  • Florida
  • Orlando
  • Tampa
  • Miami
  • Clearwater
  • Sarasota
  • Daytona
  • Palm Beach
  • Fort Lauderdale
  • Florida Keys
  • Jacksonville
  • Atlanta
  • Savannah
  • Charlotte
  • Charleston

 

Ask about our local delivery and pickup options

Did your camera die at 1 am on Thursday morning, and you're dead in the water? We're all working, seasoned production professionals here at Starling Productions and will do absolutely everything we can to help you. Whether it is a $150k ARRI Alexa Mini LF, an $8 camera plate screw, or your A-camera op got food poisoning, we will try to help you save the shoot.

FOR EMERGENCIES ONLY: CALL AND TEXT 407-462-7794 and email [email protected] with a detailed message.

** Ask us about our delivery and pickup service. **

Loss, damage, and accidents happen, and we understand that. However, rental charges continue at a full retail rate until all the item(s) have been repaired, replaced, and back in service. All rental orders are tested, inventoried, and photographed before checkout and pickup. Please, tell us if you know an item is missing or damaged when it happens, and before return, so we can make sure that item is available for the next rental customer. You are still responsible for hidden damage and missing items we discover during check-in. If you return the camera but not the dedicated cable or other accessories, you pay for the entire rental until all items are back in service.

 

On rare occasions, items come back to us dirty. Cleaning fees are for items brought back dirty, dusty, sandy, wet, or contaminated by artificial environments like fake snow and salt exposure. If you return compromised gear, the minimum cleaning fee is $400 per item. Cameras and lighting cooling fans that ingest any of the above go back to the factory for bench inspection and cleaning. Just like L&D, rental charges continue until the item(s) are back in service, plus whatever the repair/replacement cost is.

 

Complete details of all our rental policies are included in the Term and Conditions of your Rental Agreement.

Payment FAQs

 

I highly recommend Starling Productions and know that I can always trust Robert and his team to produce high-quality, high-caliber, and creative content that resonates with the audience. His ability to produce the product on time, on target and on budget has earned him a reputation as a leader in our industry. I can personally attest that Robert’s dedication and passion for a job - no matter how big or how small - are undeniably his strongest assets.

Amy Murphy

Producer

Two12 Productions

Robert understands that “show business” is an equal part discipline, spread between the “show” which is the creative, craft, and story elements of our industry, combined with the “business” which is how you conduct yourself, how you prepare for every possible scenario, and how you politically manage situations both on and on off set. Robert’s a professional with a great eye and a great heart. He’s a great drone operator and he’s become a favorite vendor in a short time.

Nicholas Vedros

Producer/Director

VEMO

Robert Starling has an eye for visual storytelling. He understands how to manipulate both lighting and composition to communicate ideas or emotions the script requires. Add to this his ease of communication, thorough approach, organizational skills, and professional attitude, and you have one of the best cinematographers out there.

Joseph Campanale

Editor

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