RISK: Production company to introduce drone photography at ski resorts

Cape Productions will charge between $100 and $200 for a photo shoot

A Silicon Valley production company plans to bring “drone zones” to ski resorts, allowing customers to get the ultimate selfie on the slopes.

Louis Gresham, co-founder of Cape Productions, said the year-and-a-half-old company has partnered with eight resorts in the United States and one in Canada.

“Video is almost the new currency. Everyone wants pictures of themselves,” he said, citing the popularity of GoPro adventure cameras and phone apps like Vine, Snapchat and Instagram. “All these companies are trying to give people tools to better broadcast themselves.”

At U.S resorts, Cape Productions is expected to charge between $100 and $200 for a photo shoot that includes three runs. Within 48 hours, customers get a one-and-a-half- to two-minute, professionally edited video that incorporates aerial and landscape footage, music and shots from stationary cameras.

“We have a lot of creative freedom to get different angles of skiers as they are going down the mountain,” Gresham said. “The sky is the limit for drones.”

Cape Productions, which is backed by more than $10 million in venture capital, received full permission from the Federal Aviation Administration in October to fly the drones, which cost about $4,000 each and are about the size of a large crow.

Gresham said only one drone would be in the air at a time on one designated run, and as far as privacy is concerned, it would be unlikely any other skiers or snowboarders would be in the shot.

“People think of this ‘drone-pocalypse’ and there will be drones flying everywhere. Not at all,” he said. “We would hate to have drones flying around everywhere.”

Initially, the drones are expected to take flight in December at Homewood Mountain Resort and Squaw Valley in northern California, both of which are on private land. But it could take longer to get permission to fly them at other U.S. resorts, many of which operate on public land and would need U.S. Forest Service approval.

Cape Productions’ drones are equipped with obstacle avoidance software that keeps them from hitting chair lifts, overhead power lines and trees. Operators also would not be allowed to fly them faster than 25 mph.

“I have one picture of myself skiing. I would love that,” said Meg Nyberg, a 35-year-old Denver resident who spends her free time Telemark skiing. “On a powder day, I would pay $100 for that.”

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