Jordy takes to the skies

2021-27_JordyPlaetinck_Drone

There is more to our colleagues than meets the eye. It's worth showing off sometimes but easy to remain unnoticed. This week: Jordy takes to the skies.

Q1: Hi Jordy, can you introduce yourself?

Of course. I’ve been with Sofico for nearly 13 years. I started at Sofico after I completed my studies in September 2008. First as a support consultant and then as an implementation consultant. I’ve worked on various implementation projects over the last 10 years. The last couple of years my responsibilities moved more towards expertise sharing and challenging topics on different projects, both internal as external. I also try to keep a team focus on certain topics that are easily forgotten during a project, such as performance optimization, future proof configuration, conventions, etc...

What I really missed during the lockdown was the social part of being a consultant. Now that we can go back to the office for a couple of days a week, it feels good to see some colleagues again and discuss various topics in real life.

What I really missed during the lockdown was the social part of being a consultant. Now that we can go back to the office for a couple of days a week, it feels good to see some colleagues again and discuss various topics in real life.

Jordy

Q2: Your corona lockdown project involves drones, correct? ​​​​​​​

Yes. During the lockdown, leisure activities were restricted to walking or cycling, so I started to think about other activities that I could do outside and were allowed by the government. I investigated drone flying but I soon found out that the Belgian legal framework was quite restrictive. A drone could not be flown higher than 10 meters, only above private property or with the consent of the landowner, had to remain in close range, needs a license, etc.

Then in January 2021, new EU-wide laws were adopted that were far less restrictive, so I immediately bought a drone. You still need to keep into account ‘no-fly zones’ or ‘restricted zones', such as airports, heliports and other sensitive areas. Nature protection areas are also a no-go for drones without written consent. Most of the time the fly app does pop up a warning when flying in restricted airspace, but it remains a good idea to check certain maps before flying.

Q3: So what is your experience after 6 months?

​​​​​​​It’s a great hobby. As always, technology evolves rapidly. Drones have become safer, easier to fly, are packed with nice features and don’t cost you an arm and a leg.

I opted for a DJI Mini 2. It’s a small, lightweight, quad-rotor drone that comes with an in-built GPS and a 4k camera with a stabilizer attached. More importantly, it weighs 249g, which means you don’t need a pilot license for it. You do need to register it with the Civil Aviation Authority and it needs to be insured. But then you’re off flying this thing.

Drones have become safer, easier to fly, are packed with nice features and don’t cost you an arm and a leg.

Jordy

For now, I’m just learning and practicing. Not so much the flying itself. The drone can ascend and land by itself. When you can’t find your drone anymore or the battery levels are low, it simply returns home. And if you let go of the controls, it hovers, so it’s rather foolproof. Too windy or flying too high? The drone will tell you.

The challenge is in the combination of controlling the drone and the camera in unison to create smooth shots while panning, zooming and so on. It is tricky to keep your object nicely in sight while moving around. Different fly modes do assist you. For example, ‘cine mode’ will smoothen your camera shots while ‘sport mode’ is mainly used to quickly reach a certain location, but the wild camera movements might trigger some motion sickness.

Recent drones can remain airborne for half an hour on one battery charge and switching batteries is a piece of cake. Enough time to fiddle around.

It is stunning how stable and detailed the camera shots can be. Such a small drone at 120 meters is sometimes just not noticeable, but the zoom function still allows to distinguish cats from dogs. Be warned if you do hear something buzzing above you.

Q4: You stopped by the office for some practice as well, right?

Yes. I often practice near where I live. Our densely populated country looks surprisingly green and beautiful from above. When you’re flying the drone, you don’t look up at your drone as you do would with a RC model airplane. You look at the image that is streamed to you via the drone’s video camera, so you get a view from (up to 120m) above, like the view from a hot-air balloon.

Sometimes I get a request that allows me to practice in a different environment. I made aerial footage of the Sofico office in Belgium when the roof was newly fitted with solar panels. I’ve taken some aerial photos of friend’s houses. I even used the drone to inspect a friend’s leaky roof to help him identify the cause of his leak.

My aim though is to be able to create beautiful and rather unique footage when we go on vacation. A professional drone career is currently not in scope.

Q5: What is your holiday destination?

This summer, we are going to Sardinia, renting a boat. So, I expect lots of opportunities for beautiful nature shots.

But even closer to home, the drone can put a fun twist on the traditional holiday snaps. My wife and I went on a Vespa tour recently and I used the drone to create some tracking shots of her on the Vespa.

Enjoy your Sardinia holiday and the drone flying!

You look at the image that is streamed to you via the drone’s video camera, so you get a view from (up to 120m) above, like the view from a hot-air balloon.

Jordy

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