DC Rainmaker & Drone Reviews – PiXL Drone Show #58
But sports technology over the last uh decade really and where those drones have come from the days of them, trying to follow you without obstacle avoidance to today having a crazy obstacle avoidance but still end up crashing into trees. Hi everyone im greg from pilot institute. We train drone pilots all over the country hi. My name is jaya from drone excel, where we cover all the drone news on our website. Welcome to the latest episode of the pixel drone show a weekly podcast, where we talk to industry professionals about what they do in the uas space from professionals who use drone to fly, inspection missions to public safety, users or even drone light shows. You will learn on the pixel. Drone show that drones are much more than just toys. Music, alright, well, lets get started with the first question. Uh both greg – and i are our runners as well – and we know, of course, youre an athlete uh. Can you tell us, how did you get started with dc rainmaker? I mean what prompted you to to start the blog and start reviewing all this. The sport equipment yeah it was years ago i started uh. It was training for my first ironman uh race, so triathlon uh and i basically its. This is back in the days where you actually have traveled to the race site, and so in my case it was iron. My canada, i traveled to that race site and you have to spend the day watching the event uh, and then you sign up the next morning afterwards and so its an entire, very involved process.
These days, you just do it online um, and so that was like documenting my journey to my very first time and a year in advance, so you signed up the year prior to the event, and so that became kind of where i started on the sports technology Side and running and cycling and swimming for triathlon and then uh eventually over time. It picked up other tech interests of mine from action, cameras and eventually into drones, as well, ah so thats how you migrated basically from reviewing sports equipment into more cameras. And then i guess drones was what the natural natural extension yeah. I mean its kind of one of those things where i i sort of end up reviewing anything that was sport techie, along the way that i just happened to find interesting, and so, in my case i kind of had a history that um i wanted to be A pilot – and so i i spent a lot of time in the aeronautics realm and started on my pilots license. Then i moved to to washington dc and thats a really bad place to try to continue your pilots license due to all the no fly zones, and you have to you, spend basically like 90 minutes on the highway to get out to be able to go fly. Um and so it just wasnt, wasnt viable to continue there and then i moved on to other places that became even more unviable to continue so um someday.
I will get back to becoming a a real life pilot, but uh, you know the drone side of it. It always kind of interests me and then, as drones and sports kind of continue to get more and more kind of close right. You know back years ago it was just you put a drone. You took a picture of something in the sky, you couldnt even see it until you got it back down again um and then eventually at the point where you had drones following you and thats kind of where i became more assumed and then started incorporating them into What i do and i eventually became kind of on the review side of it – thats awesome, thats, exciting i, i have to say ray im im a little star struck because ive been following you pretty much since 2009. I think um and i started running way back when you were still when you were in dc and uh when you moved to paris and so followed all that uh followed your uh, your wife starting her shop in paris and then all these things so uh when, When hayah told me that you were coming on the show, i was really really excited: uh theres, not a single watch that ive purchased for running that i havent watched a review on your website. So, oh thank you. Youve been doing, yeah youve been doing amazing things out there, but i i tell all my friends i used to tell them you know anytime, you want to buy a watch, just go to his website and watch your review.
Youll know everything you need to know so. Im definitely a big fan and uh its uh, its super exciting. To have you here, uh you and i you we were chasing the same prs for a long time, so i always related to you because we were doing triathlons doing running trying to chase the the same goal, so that was uh. That was always exciting so anyway, ill get to my question uh. What was the uh? The first drone that you actually reviewed on the on the website. I think the very first one that uh made like the cut for the website was the phantom four. I think um it may have been like air dog original, like v1 of air dog, was in that same rough time frame. I have to go back and see exactly the timelines there, but um all in that same range. I had used drones some of the earlier phantom series before that, but the phantom 4 was one of the first ones i did almost as an accident um. I was skiing with a buddy of mine, uh in the alps, and we were trying to track ourselves going downhill with the drone and um. This was my first youtube video involving a drone where we just stuck it up. There recorded what we were doing uh. It seemed like awfully professional at the time by these days standards it wouldnt um went too too well, but it you know we got the thing up there and started following us, but it just stayed like level the entire time as we went down the hill um Yeah – and this was you know the first introduction to oh – it doesnt actually follow you downhill, which is things that we kind of take for granted these days.
But back then it never went below its takeoff point um and so that video like went crazy in the scope of drone video, its still one of my highest drone videos ever its over. Like half a million views. I think, or something like that. Um and its also, my first introduction to the the differences between something like a sports watch, audience versus a action, camera and drone audience um in terms of the composite of that audience. What you say – and you know how you uh – how you have to approach those different technologies are, are very, very different, uh and so its uh. That was a good learning experience um the video its funny, because the video itself like it shows everything but theres. All these little, like nitpicky things that uh by todays standards, get kind of torn apart, so is that the difference that you find in in the different types of viewership is how picky people are with drones, vast vastly different uh. So its awesome, um yeah its you. You have to have, i would say, caveat the crap out of things the best way describing it like. I am. I am constantly in my brain um caveating for um. What can be a very uh, diverse audience in terms of what their technical understanding is so youre, always kind of sitting there and and caviar and like here, is exactly why im doing this and heres? Why im not doing this over here, because this wont work? This way and showing that and thats youtube is but ive learned that, like the age range for a drone, video, an action cam video is often very very large.
In terms of being. You know, young teenagers, all the way up to 70, something um versus. Like a you know, sports watch for an iron man youre not typically attracting a very young audience for that youre attracting someone thats. You know at the low end, maybe in the in the 20s or 30s, but i mean its just different different group people and so um youve learned ive learned to like just kind of do things differently for that audience uh than i would on the you know, A sports watch, or something like that yeah that makes sense going back to uh to the phantom 4 that you took with you in the alps. I mean uh a phantom 4 view if you package that, in a backpack its pretty much the entire backpack is dedicated to the drone right i mean yeah the problems you have the batteries, you have the controller like its bulky, its heavy uh. Also back then, like you pointed out obstacle avoidance, uh didnt, allow the drone to to descend and follow you as you work, your way down the mountain. How has that changed since the the more recent drones that we have now like? Where have you seen the improvements and are we there yet in terms of having the perfect drone for somebody, like yourself, whos an athlete and wants a drone to be able to follow you and report? Your activities were were definitely not there. Yet um were getting closer, but its kind of its always been like you know, two steps forward.
One step back um so like the backpack is a great example that yeah you i remember those days. I still have it floating around somewhere here this, like pseudo hard shell backpack, that you took with you yeah, and so you had to decide like. Are you carrying things for the rest of the day for a whole day of skiing in the alps means you never come back to the lodge youre out there. You know for um the entire day and its like. Okay, ill carry the drone today and you carry our other things, um and thats. Just the way it works is now its. You know its the size, not even the size of a running shoe right, a mini drone or even like the older mavic airs and stuff are tiny, but weve also seen so while weve seen advancements, of course, in camera technologies and active track from a following perspective. Like back, then, you were lucky if you can get active track to follow you for even 30 seconds, like 30 seconds, for it to follow you without getting distracted by something um even like. If you were in the middle of an empty desert, it would get distracted by something in 30 seconds um, let alone trees and all those sort of things right. So you have like mentally miserable. You had obstacle avoidance generally invisible, and then you had this whole thing to carry with you and so weve checked off a lot of those lists and that its smaller right, the the mini series, is tiny and with the mini three, its active track is just as Good, if not arguably, i would say even better actually than something like the mavic 3 in terms of what it can do, uh and then youve got things like obstacle avoidance, where you have drones like skydio, that just have insane obstacle avoidance um as to what theyre Able to do and tracking as well theyre in that same boat of just they track.
You know certainly better than dji does in most cases and then you have cinematic stuff in terms of like the photo and the video side of it and the specs and all that has obviously improved uh, but theres still elements that that are clunky um. So in the case of skydio right youve got this drone. You can throw in the air thats great and you dont you dont actually have to have a remote control. It just follows you and you throw your phone in your throw your phone in your pocket or whatever the case is, and life is grand or the beacon, but unfortunately, in case of dji, you still have to have this controller with you, uh, which years ago too, Like with a phantom 4, you actually didnt have to have your controller, you could use your phone and even put it in your pocket, and it would do the whole controller follow me used to call it follow me, though. That was the difference between the controller following or the the person um and theyve, unfortunately gone away from that which is too bad in the last couple years. I would love for dji to either go back to phone control which, because in an athletic sense, i dont need a drone to be like 200 meters away if youre, following an athlete, yeah its gon na, be within a hundred meters, if not within twenty or thirty Years they dont see uh the mavic air, the original one didnt that also allow you to fly from the phone i mean i know from from a pilots perspective.
People always like. Oh, you cant fly a drone from the phone because its inaccurate and stuff, but if you use it like the way you use it, where you want the drone to follow you in a relatively close distance uh not having to worry about the controller and your phone Is something you probably have with you anyway? It makes sense, doesnt it exactly so. The mavic air, the original one uh supported that up to 100, 100 meters or so um yeah, and it was like reliable to 80ish uh and kid you not. I still use that drone today, um for tracking uh, because, if im out cycling and im going for a 100 mile ride, the last thing i want to take with me is one more thing in my back pocket um, but the mavic air fits my back pocket. A single pocket just fine its got 4k. The active track is acceptable for most scenarios and like road, cycling and most scenarios of just getting b roll and things like that um, the mini three has changed my perspectives, a little bit now, where im kind of willing to combine those two size and weights into One and get higher quality stuff, but uh yeah. I just wish there was something in the middle there. I wish. You know there was a beacon for dji or i wish skadio had a smaller footprint right, because thats the problem with the scottie is youre back to effectively the backpack.
I mean at the end of the day, if youre, taking a skydio2 out there, youre taking some backpack sort of thing with you, yeah bigger. Where do you see this technology going in the future in next five years? What would be to you the? What would make it perfect? I think it perfect would be a mini three size. Drone um with a mavic 3 telephoto lens and a skydio beacon, would be perfection and uh mavic 3 obstacle avoidance so or actually not actually scadio obstacle avoidance, so flip that around. If you will take a scotia drone and put dji cinematics into it and foldable arms and legs, i guess yeah exactly so. The size of a mac mini three, so its kind of theyve got to like find a way for those two to merge together, and that would be my perfection, i think, with the skydio uh, because i spoke to the to those guys from skydio uh some time Ago, i think part of the problem was that if you made the drone foldable, then the exact locations of the cameras that are used for obstacle avoidance werent, always in the exact same spot necessarily and it would throw off the drones capability, uh. Basically exactly yeah yeah and i think you know im im, okay with not necessarily having foldable like look to something like the spark right so way back when i guess the spark wasnt foldable. But it was tiny enough that i could squeeze that into my pockets or, if im running, i can put that in a camelback or any of those things small enough that it works right um if you could have the the functionality of skadio in that package.
That would be. That would be amazing and i dont actually need like super long battery life from a sports tracking standpoint, um its nice to have 30 or 40 minutes on you know the mini 3, but practically speaking most of the shots you want are going to last in, like Five to seven minutes its funny, because uh in and now weve been recording the pixel drone show for more than a year, and we sp weve, spoken to all these different professional drone pilots using drones in different ways and its like, depending on how they use drones. Their wish list for what the ideal drone is changes so now were talking to somebody like you and now all of a sudden lets say. Flight time is not so important, whereas in our previous show we were talking to somebody who works for search and rescue operations. Hes, like oh, i need battery life. I need battery life more, the better, so its funny how you, when you talk to different people that use drones in different ways, their their requirements, of course, change as well, um in terms of obstacles absolutely because i think yeah. I want to say on on that actually someone just emailed me today, thats a professional drone operator that flies big, big drones. Right i mean yeah huge heavy lifting custom built drones, uh for various events and um kind of like you know, live broadcast stuff and you know so some pictures they just massive rigs um and but his question was, you know: when will we see? Dji add support for the mini 3 to the rc pro because he needs the hdmi out feed from that controller and in particular he wants the mini 3 for places that legally he needs to be under a certain weight limit that you know getting the permits and All this kind of stuff in certain areas is just impossible, uh for certain events or certain scenarios, where that little drone fits the bill right, its the whole.
You know casey neistat, right im, certainly a popular youtuber i always talked about you know. The the best camera is the one that you have with you right and its the same thing in drones that you can have an amazing cinematic camera. But if you cant get it to the location you want, or whatever the case may be, a 4k camera on the the mini 3 is going to stand up against even the best drone cameras of just a few years ago, right its its kind of insane to See how quickly things have moved on um its yeah being able to have that flexibility to go from a giant drone to something tiny based on your? What that particular production need is is super important. I think its uh its amazing how drones have changed uh over the last. What lets say six seven years where uh it started out as a flying camera and all of a sudden people started using it in ways that the drone really wasnt designed to be used. But people did it nonetheless, and then, of course, you get all these different types of drones and um its its fascinating. I think to see how people have been using drones and then the new ways that we can use them that have come up. Um lets switch gears here. A little bit i mean theres. Somebody like you, whos, been reviewing drones in great detail for a number of years now uh.
Can you tell us how you go about your review process uh for drones? I try not to kill them. Um thats uh, the gist of it, starting with five. We end up with less right, its like the you know, whats the fastest way to become a a millionaire in the airline business. You know start as a billionaire yeah, so its same approach um. I know i think for me you know i kind of my my drone reviews have always had a bit of a sports angle to them, but im also reviewing the drone as a cinematography thing or as a purpose built thing depending on what its purpose is. So, im mostly going to start on the sports side, the tracking side and seeing how well that performs and seeing how well it is for all sorts of other things. But you know the cinematography aspect is a huge piece of it. I think if you look at my review process and how i kind of walk through that im going to be grabbing b roll for things that i might want uh using those drones and trying to get those same shots on those drones in review that i would In in normal everyday life and uh, i was in the caribbean a couple weeks ago, uh while i was shooting the mini 3 review, but i was using that footage for other videos and other reviews that i have that have nothing to do with drones.
And so you know to be able to use that footage and think about okay, does this drone fit what i need to be able to um? You know replace other drones and, like an example was i was trying to get some shots um out in the water uh in the ocean, with some deep surf, doing some open water swimming and stuff and thats, where having the flexibility of something like the mavic 3 Was was useful to be able to zoom in um from from further away uh versus the mini three i was like okay now ive got to either be close to the waves or i got ta reposition every time, and so those are things that you kind of Think about when youre writing the review up and go okay. Who is this drone for and what are they using it for and again everyones needs vary, and i i think its really easy for a lot of people to follow. The trap of a professional would never use this because of blah, and the reality is the definition. Professional varies depending on what it is right i mean in some senses i am a professional in terms of i make my my living making product reviews, and so if i need that drone to do something in the line of making a product review for something else, Right for a watch for a bike computer for a swim device, um im going to use the right tool for the job in some cases, thats going to be the higher end drone in some cases, thats going to be a smaller drone.
Now, if you review a watch, it doesnt really matter right because a watch you can, you can use everywhere, theres no rules, you dont need a license or anything like that. If you fly drones in all these different locations in the netherlands in the caribbean here in the us like how do you deal with with staying on top of all the different drone regulations and the drones that youre allowed to use in certain ways? But maybe not in a different way, like whats involved there, its its a nightmare um its i am i am without. I would argue that there are very few people in the youtube drone realm that are as nit picky on legal rules as i am in terms of making sure every single item is absolutely perfectly crossed um. Just because i want i dont want to hear it in the comments, but you know you shouldnt have flown there or whatever the case is um and two. I think this helps set a president uh, and so you know like for me living here in amsterdam. I cant fly anywhere near me. Every time i go do something: ive got to drive or bike or whatever the case may be. You know 20 to 60 minutes away like today i was shooting stuff for a drone thing for tomorrow, uh and i had to go. I dont have a car either, so that makes it worse. So i had to go.
Find a car share car around the city, so i pedaled 20 minutes to the car share car. I got the car straight car. I then drove 30 minutes outside. I did my thing i drove somewhere else, so i had to do another drone thing and then i came back. The whole thing took almost four hours um because legally i cant fly here and you know if, if it you know with someone that just didnt care, they would go off to the forest here thats, you know kilometer two away and they would they would do the Thing and no one would ever know right, but i i think its super important to do that and so im always looking at when im going somewhere like what do i have to have to be able to fly there legally. What licenses do i have? What permissions do i have to have uh and sometimes the answer? Is you just simply cant right? You just cant either you know in terms of the timelines that you have or whatever the case is, and i think in the eu its gotten a lot easier with relatively unified rule sets across the board um. But even then theres still lots of lots of like gaps and and what you can and cant do and what you think you can and cant do, depending on country to country and and then within that, i dont think the average consumer can realistically try to navigate A lot of that stuff i mean having to pull up a map like i went to italy uh just a week and a half ago, and i shot a couple things there briefly.
That was the purpose of my trip. I just happened to have take the the drone along with me and shot a few things, and you know in order for me to see the no fly zones in italy. I had a register on an italian site um that was in italian, go through this whole long registration process. That asked me my license my birthday all this kind of stuff. Just to be able to see the no fly zones. You could see the map without registering, but that didnt actually show you the no fly zones and you sit there and go your average person isnt going to do that and then you know once i got all that figured out from me to do what i needed To do, i had to run five kilometers outside of town to get beyond the no fly zone, edges um, so that i could be in. You know in the right situation and would have anyone have noticed if i was four kilometers versus five in the middle of a vineyard. No, but i think you just you have to do it. It matters yeah im the same way. I agree i im actually about to travel to go see my parents in france and ive never flown a drone in france, even though i grew up there, but never had a chance to do it so im bringing a drone to try it. But then i was reading the rules online and im like well.
Okay. This is a completely different world than flying, and then you cant fly over houses. Every single house pretty much, has a little red fly zone on top, which is funny because their backyard portion of their backyard is in a no fly zone. But i can go a little bit further in their backyard and then i can take off and fly even though theyre in the middle of the country, in a small village of 200 people, its its really interesting to see the uh, the different set of roles. Um. Do you do you do this full time now? Is that your full time job reviewing products, yep yeah its full time, job reviewing products, not just drones, but you know all sorts of sports tech stuff, so yeah its uh between the site and and youtube. Those two is kind of essentially everything that uh takes up way more than what should time wise in a day yeah. So do you do you buy all the products that you review? I know for a long time you wouldnt take products from from companies. So do you still do that yeah? So what what usually happens is companies will send products under loan initially and then ill return them and ill go off and buy them after the fact? So you know, obviously for days or product reviews you cant buy it before day, zero, so uh, but uh companies will send products out for loan thats, true, whether it be garmin or dji or apple or whatever the case may be, and then once im done, i Send them back to them and go out and buy themselves.
So in my case ive already, you know bought uh mavic, 3 and mini 3.. All those drones skydio, i usually buy them as soon as they come out the same day and then they come whenever they come um and in some cases you know i dont have products on day zero, like i didnt, have the mavic 3 on day, zero um, But i the nearby like cool blue, which is equivalent of like best buy in the us yeah um, had it like day one so the next morning i had it right there. I just went and bought it and did what i needed to do and the videos still do well, um, obviously having drones early as a huge advantage, and you know in that media space but um. I think you know for certain types of content you can make it even if its delayed. Now i if i remember correctly, uh in your in your time when youre still in paris, you pretty much had your apartment, i believe, as your office space as well uh. I think your setup in the netherlands is different right, i mean. Can you tell us about how you operate uh in amsterdam, yep yeah, so in paris it was just our apartment for the first few years, and eventually i got a cave location underneath my wifes. Second, bakery um so like there was a little tiny. I mean this is barely like the size of two small bathrooms in the us like it was super super tiny uh, maybe two and a half meters by like four meters or something like really small um.
But then, here in amsterdam, we lucked out into finding what is effectively like industrial space like warehouse space uh, which is the greatest thing ever so ive got 300 square meter about 3000 square feet of just warehouse space. So i can, i can fly inside. If i want to um. I can do all this kind of fun stuff and just have all the room in the world and its cheap, because no one wants dirty warehouse space, but i am thrilled with it uh and so yeah ive got all sorts of space there for everything from you Know, indoor bikes and watches and drones piled up everywhere, um, but its a its a its a great kind of great location relatively in the city, but unfortunately i cant fly out my front door literally. Just above me is the final approach to skipper so that doesnt work very well for somebody so into outdoor sports, like biking, skiing, snowboarding, running swimming uh. First youre youre like stuck in paris in the big city, which of course has different advantages, but uh, maybe harder for certain sports uh now youre in amsterdam. Like what made you decide to move to the netherlands and amsterdam, and does that work with um, i mean? Obviously it does because youve been very successful. I think but yeah. How does that fit in in like the stuff that you do and the things that you review and the sports that you do yeah? So for you know in in paris i was there initially for work.
I worked for a large company before i kind of this whole time, and so that was that was up there um and moving to the netherlands uh we had come up. You know on the train from paris to amsterdam like couple times a year, its a maybe three hour, train ride, um and always enjoyed it here. Its always very bike focused city uh, and so we kind of got to point with having uh two kids, the time that were like you know what were curious to try to get out of the city itself um. And so we moved to amsterdam, which were still in the city but its not as we in in paris, we lived across the street from notre dame like literally across the street, so we were as close as you could possibly get to the center of paris symbol On the ground there and uh here, its just more relaxed, but its also really easy to get out of amsterdam. So our the office that i have office spaces right on uh one of the lakes here in amsterdam. So its easy for me to do swimming there. Its on the forest as well, so i can go and run around the forest all day long. I could run you know a half marathon another easily without retracing your steps and then its just you know, barely even two kilometers out towards the amp still and then off into the countryside. So i can be.
You know on the amp still into the countryside and passing cows in just a couple minutes um, so its its one of those things that youre close in the city but im i mean theres cows, just at the end of street right here, so its its its Kind of funny how that kind of blended together, yeah good combination, yeah, i remember when you had all these trainer boxes in your apartment in paris and youre, trying to figure out where to put everything yeah uh in that little apartment, we still have trainer boxes everywhere. Trying to figure out where to put even if i think, when you just get more space, you just collect more things right. Eventually, you have to make hard choices. Oh yes, space um! I just have to make less hard choices now, but its yeah yeah, we moved. We moved our operation pilot institute from 220 square feet to uh 3 500 square feet, and then i was like how are we ever going to fill up this space and then, a week later, it was just full of stuff. Just you just you just learned to expand. I think theres stuff everywhere, especially like for for us that the pandemic hasnt helped of last two years, because we didnt we dont, really have any guests in there. Otherwise, its just myself and my my wife that work on there um, and so you know this 3000 square foot space and so over the course of two years of no one visiting youre like oh.
We probably should tidy up around here its getting kind of crazy when the world reopens its heading up yeah. So do you uh? Do you still film everything yourself? Do you have ever hire a crew to help you no everythings, all all myself um, my my wife helps me a bit on some of the editing, just rough cutting stuff, just uh, basically taking my a roll and cutting it down and then from there uh. All later and all the stuff, but uh yeah, all the filming everything else out and about its all, all just uh me putting cameras on tripods and microphones and hoping they all work, and sometimes they do and sometimes they dont. You must make pretty long working hours. No, if you, if you do all the writing, the photos, the editing, uh the recording everything there. There are some very long days. Yes, uh. These next few days are very long days for some products coming up over the next 24 48 hours and uh, sometimes its quieter too, but yeah theres, just its its an ever ending kind of stop of stuff or never ending pile of stuff. Where you just have to sort of sit back and decide, whats going to make the cut and whats whats not, but also i mean lets, say: uh take the mavic 3.. I mean you get that drone and then you have to do all the recording. The write up and all that stuff, but first before you even can get into that, you also have to fly the drone and just figure it out and see what works and what doesnt work and kind of form your opinion um.
How much? How much time do you dedicate lets say to getting to know the next product that youre going to review? It totally depends on the products. I think you know some products in general id say my. My preferred timeline is between three and like five weeks to have a product um to to use it before you know getting review on it and, for the most part that works out pretty well for most companies these days. Some products are longer some products, a little bit shorter, but thats, the general gist of it and uh the number of times. I need to utilize that product uh can vary so like with the mini three, for example um. I had that uh for a while, and so i probably had 30 40 flights on it before you know. I got my review yeah kind of figured out and sorted out um which, by that point i felt super confident that i understood that drone inside and out um and then sometimes you dont really need 30 or 40 flights. You can you kind of figure things out within maybe half a dozen fights or 10 flights, and you can kind of got a pretty. You know locked on idea and then that that remainder of those is sort of filling in the edges of the the the picture. If you will of things that youre like oh, i didnt know how that that would have worked in that scenario and um, you know sometimes too, you have to be careful, because when you get so far down that road of so much usage um, you can kind Of become a bit blinded by the little quirks that are in every product right thats, you know theres always things you want to improve and i think its easy for any reviewer myself and otherwise to always try to find like nitpick everything right and sometimes you have To step back and go no, this is just a really good product, yeah, um and other times you say no.
This is just a really bad product, so we saw those like in the case of rhones. We saw the two extremes in the case of dji over the last eight months between the mavic 3 launch being, i would classify as a proper dumpster fire um and then the mini three being smooth. Probably yes, super smooth super well done very, very small things to nitpick on, in the grand scheme of things um its things that you know again its easy to nitpick on uh, like people can talk about range with the dji rc right in the limited range there. Um and then you have to step back sometimes and go yes, but do i really need this drone in this controller to fly more than a kilometer away from me? You know more than 1500 meters away from me in most scenarios right in most most places on earth. Thats considered illegal right, so i dont need it to do that, and i i appreciate that some people may have that that particular need and have the the ability legally to do that um, but the overwhelming vast majority of us dont, um, and so i know the Kind of boundaries you get the coolest shots. Typically, when you fly low and close to subjects anyway, i mean theres no need to have a drone up ten kilometers away from you, maybe if youre in search of rescue and stuff, but for for the majority of people flying drones, nah not necessary yeah, most regulation, Doesnt allow it anyway, so do you have you ever come across a product, so bad that uh you were gon na, do a review, but you decided not to not generally.
No, i i pretty much. I do. Reviews based on not whether or not the product is good or bad, but based on whether or not i have the time to finish it um and whether or not um its something. My audience is interested. To be honest, like i think you know, i was super hard on the mavic 3 repetitively over and over and over again back last fall because i felt like i deserved it. I felt like it was released way too early yeah, it didnt work. Well, i mean i put one of them in a canal, i had to go fish out like another one. I mean just yeah like its just things that – and that was the least of its issues in the grand scheme of things um, and so i you know, dropped my reviews and stuff like that as they were, and the same is true for other products um. When i dont tend to release, reviews is simply ive run out of time like in terms of the number of products on my plate, um and especially, if something, if i get something later than announcement date. So if something comes, you know two weeks or four weeks after announcement, my desire to do a review. Has you know kind of gone down quite a bit because now theres less interest in that um and thus ill get around to it. When i get around to it talking about dumpster fires and everything theres two drones, i want to talk about specifically uh.
First one is: did you ever review the gopro karma? Remember that one yep i did that was oh yeah. That was that was a rough drone. I actually pulled it out the other day because i was trying to um look at it for relation to the gopro bone, stuff and kind of talking about. You know gopro getting back into that sort of drone scene in general, yeah um, but man that was it was just a product that missed missed the mark in so many ways relative to that time frame like stepping up setting aside the whole. You know battery falling out thing and drawing falling out of the sky um. The reality is that it just it was so big compared to its competitors of those days, um. Well, the mavic came out at that time. Yeah the mavic pro the original. That was the destroyer of that drone. I had my finger on the on the buy button for the karma when i heard about it coming out and then i think, like two days later, dji announced the uh the mavic pro and i was like oh never mind and i went for that. One yeah that was yeah i was going to buy the lily. I was, i had an order yeah and i get my money back. I was lucky one of the lucky few that get their money back because they run away with some of the money so as well, yeah but thats.
Also a good example, too, of like the karma being a case of back in those days. Dji got away with way more than they would today, and they got away with way more than gopro. Could then right? Because if we remember that time frame, the concept of drones, falling out of the sky was not at all new to people who flew drones. Quite a bit back then um, you know having a dji drone follow the sky was not well not unheard of. You could, and there was both fly away. Incidents as well as just drones. Shutting off mid air fly away, yeah and like ive had back. In those days i had multiple flyaways. I had a flyaway of a dji drone off into the ocean. I had a fly away of a 3dr drone off into the ocean um, where just it thought it was going to zero comma zero. Gps coordinates yeah, there was a bug and it just off. It flew to the coast of africa um and like that was not unheard of then, but for a company like gopro. That was a major media thing right, whereas back in those days, dji was still kind of like this. You know oh youre youre a geek because you, you know what a drone is from from dji, but you know these days, obviously its if, if mavic 3s or mini threes are falling from the sky, that would be uh the same sort of size of issue as It was for gopro back yeah lets.
Uh lets talk about the mavic 3 product launch. Well, what do you think whats your take? What do you think happened there with with that product being released? Uh too soon? I think someone just decided far enough up the food chain that they had to release in time for christmas, and it was as simple as that, and that was you know once when you look at all product launches in that time frame from every company um. You know you basically have this ramp. That starts in mid, but really late august. You know last week of august early september and those are the products that they carry through until you can squeak by a product launch as late as the last week of october. Maybe the first week of november, but from a market standpoint from all the um companies that sell products out there, the walmarts, the costcos, the all that entire range. They need to have those products locked by early october september time frame, and so you have to make decisions realistically in september whether or not your product will launch and be available for christmas, because theyre starting to lock down all the the christmas stuff. The same thing is true: in magazines across any product range companies are buying ad spots for magazines that will be coming out in you know, september october november, for holidays, and i think dji decided, probably in the september, to early october time frame that this is what They were going to do and, as we saw the product just wasnt ready, i mean it fundamentally, wasnt ready not just in the sense of like crashing into canals, but in the sense of the features that people expect for a two to five thousand dollar drone.
They didnt match what was available in a mini seo. Time i mean like there was. There was features that a mini sc had that a mavic 3 didnt um its just yeah. I dont, i dont understand how that happened. Do you think that uh dji has become more greedy, that theyre more focused on money? I mean theres a few things. I think that kind of hint in that direction i mean the mavic 3 – is one where they rushed to get it to market before christmas, even though the drone wasnt ready – and they acknowledged that, because they promised all the other features and firmware updates. But ive seen it in other cases as well like when they launch a new product. You can buy it on dgi.com, but you cant get it at best, buy yet yeah. Of course. Sometimes you can even before the lunch, but you cant get it opinionated. You can get it at amazon, like they kind of take the initial flow of orders and kind of keep it for themselves. Uh theyve done something similar with dji dealers. Where for the enterprise drones, where now you can buy the enterprise drones directly from dji, so they kind of circumnavigate the the dealers like? Have they theyve done the same thing with affiliate uh rates for for people that review their products? Do you think that theyve become too greedy? At this point, i think i mean theres an element to that.
I think thats a an area where we have to sort of separate um our like what impacts us or impacts dealers or distributors versus what impacts consumers um in the sense that uh, you know one of the challenges. I guess theres, two different things there. One of the challenges: if we look back at historically people buying dji products on launch day, is it was darn near impossible to actually find them, because you, you know dji themselves had a handful on their site if, at all back in the day, you always had To go to third party retailers – and there was this whole crazy game of have you called all these little tiny hobby shops across the u.s right? I remember that game and youre sitting there like well joes, you know joes uh, crab shack in arkansas has that three left. Why is joes crap, shack, yeah and hes got him its like, but he doesnt even sell drones. He sells like lawnmowers and he has these things and so um. I think you know from a consumer standpoint that was frustrating versus. I went on dji site the moment they announced 73 bought it and it showed up the morning. It was you know, available on the 17th right, so the next you know the first day it was here like that worked now. Obviously there was a limited supply, but i knew as a drone enthusiast that i was ready to click that button as soon as it went live, and so you know from a consumer standpoint that worked well now from a retailer distributor affiliates all that kind of stuff.
Thats problematic, because that that takes out effectively the cuts along the way uh. I guess the question that is out there that i dont have an answer to and really only dji would is by removing those cuts. Does it keep the prices down lower right and thats thats a tough question if we look at all the other product segments over the last two years, especially in seeing uh cost of shipping goods cost of components, cost of inflation, all those things going up should something Have cost less – and you know the case – the mini three or sorry case of the mavic 3 that still costs a crap ton. Arguably, that was a massive product pricing shift for dji, pushing that upwards, probably too high um and then on the flip side, the mini three price was in the general ballpark of where its been. If you account for inflation like its again, i dont know if thats dji, looking back over the last eight months and learning and saying oh, that didnt work well, we should we should you know readjust here, yeah and also, i think dji for the longest time has Been trying to take as much market share as they could by volume right so theyve been selling their drones at volume, which also makes it cheaper theyve, taken a big hit with the uh, the the public safety, especially in the us not being able to sell some Of these drones because of the political things going on, so they may be at the point now, where the price they were selling before may not make a lot of financial sense and they have to raise as well um.
You know that you were talking about their their technique to release a product. I feel a lot i feel like dji is a lot more like apple these days than theyve ever been before. Where you you see the product, you buy it its available as opposed to hotel, for example, hotel, i think, has yet to learn how to do that. They release a product and then it takes two months three months before you even see it hitting the shelf and then everybody the buzz, is gone and then probably another drone came out before that and then and then its too late uh. Have you have you seen any other companies doing kind of the same thing? Dji is doing in the drone space because i dont think i have uh not yet i mean skadio is probably pretty close to that um in the sense of like you could order it. It goes back to the concept like you said, of apple effectively of weve announced something and you can purchase it almost right away and apple, actually, isnt necessarily the best in that realm, in the sense that most apple products when they have their big announcement days, you Dont get to purchase it until the friday right they announce it on the tuesday or so, and then you can finally click order on friday, and then it shows up the next friday. But when i talk to companies across the sports technology space, you know, one of the things i talk about is that you have one article to get someone to convert someone to buy your product.
You have one chance one article on day, zero at launch time, um. So if your site and your whatever distribution system isnt set up to accept an order for the thing that you just announced, you have failed and potentially permanently, because you know some products are impulse purchases. Things theyre like ill, buy that right now and you buy it and you go back your way and something like oh thats, really cool. Oh, i cant buy it today. You close the tab and you never ever come back um and yep. You know a drone, it falls more towards the you think about it, because its a bigger purchase and youre planning on doing it, but there are smaller products, thats, not the case, and i think weve seen dji certainly emulate apple and i think even look at the Mini three right: this is the first time weve seen them have a separated time period between announcement date and availability date of exactly one week and people dont like people dont like that now from a media sense its great because i have a week to get stuff Done um i have a week to like put out new content but um, but i can also understand the flip of that and that you know if i went back to mavic 3, my ability to put up videos in the mavic 3 that did extremely well was Because i could walk into a store the next morning and buy it um versus, like couldnt, have done that with this yeah i i noticed the same thing uh.
If i look at the traffic on drone excel and and if you research what people search for more on the day that the product is launched, the search traffic just goes through the roof and its. It will still be high the next day, but it tapers off. Incredibly fast as well, so i i totally agree with you that if you miss that initial spike, you miss a lot of momentum, absolutely yeah, but its always actually surprised me that apple hasnt hasnt shifted that time frame closer between the availability of purchase and whatnot. Again. In apples case youre talking big ticket items, people are generally not impulse buying a you know three or five thousand dollar mac, but still there are plenty of items that people do in pulse purchase, buy at various price points, depending on what you know, how much money You have, i guess, yeah. I have uh im curious about how you remember all the specs from all the products that you review, especially when it comes to comparing uh with the previous product. I know you know weve. We have a ton of drones in our office that we use on a regular basis, but from time to time i have to go back to a year ago and im, like i dont, even remember what this drone does specifically. So we take extensive notes. We actually created a database to keep track of all this stuff. How do you do it? How do you make sure that when you talk about an older product, you dont get things confused and that its 100 yeah, mostly ive, got my own notes, but one of the challenges i think i have with like ive got a product database for watches and things Like that – and you know for the longest time that was relatively easy to maintain, because firmware updates to products were few and far between right in the sense that um you know back up eight years ago, companies release bug fixes and maybe like a few little minor Things on their watches and bike computers, but nothing much these days, thats expected its no use.
Now its vastly different like there was. You know some changes, um two watches a week or two ago that were just released four months ago that are huge and theres going to be another set of changes next week. That are huge, huge upgrades that you know fundamentally change that database. If you will um and the same is kind of true for jones, though less so in the case of dji and skydio like theyre the amount of change they have tends to be relatively minor, uh mavic 3 excluded, because again it started so low that it only Had so much room to grow um but yeah for me, im mostly looking at my own notes from launch, but i find more and more im. Double checking.