C+S January 2023 Vol. 9 Issue 1 (web)

unpiloted systems

Midnight in Sweden: Casale Wins the 2022 Engineering Drone Video of the Year Competition By Luke Carothers

2022 has been a year of new horizons for the Engineering Drone Video of the Year (EDVY) Competition. When the inaugural EDVY Competition launched in 2017, UAVs and drones held a much different position in the AEC industry. Over half a decade ago, these first EDVY videos had a DIY-quality, often coming as a result of an intrepid drone pilot asking for permission to film a construction site. This is a com - mon refrain amongst those who have been in the drone industry since that time and far before: that, ironically, convincing the AEC industry to adopt drones as a tool required quite a bit of leg work. Quite rapidly, UAVs and drones have been adopted into the daily practices of many major AEC firms, becoming indispensable tools for a variety of tasks in the design, construction, inspection, and maintenance of projects and structures. Just as the efforts of these early drones industry pioneers benefitted the current state of the AEC industry, so too has the EDVY Compe - tition grown in tandem. Drones are more than just a camera in the sky or method of generating new marketing content, although in the case of the latter it is evidently useful. This year’s competition was evidence of this development, providing viewers with stunning drone videography, but also context on how drone technology had an impact on a particular project. In much the same way our 2021 winner, Reid Hu, used aesthetics to convey information about the project, this trend was also present in this year’s field of competitors. Production choices such as color shifting and digital overlays made this year’s competition stronger than ever. Drones and UAVs are now influencing budgets, workflows, and safety procedures on projects across the globe. When it comes to Building Information Modeling(BIM) and 3D Modeling, drones have become an indispensable tool for engineering and construction projects. De - velopments in drone technology are continually allowing drones to fly higher, faster, and for a longer time. This has made them the ideal tool for capturing the necessary data for buildings and other large scale projects. The ability to accurately model a project at its different stages helps improve things like workflow. Drones have also drastically im - proved the safety of workers building the world around us. This was proven true in May 2021 when traffic was abruptly halted on the Her - nando de Soto bridge in Memphis, Tennessee. Engineers inspecting the bridge identified a fracture in the tie girder of the arch over the primary navigation channel. After traffic was halted, engineers deployed drones to assess the full extent of the fracture, a job that would have otherwise required workers to navigate a potentially compromised structure.

EDVY has benefited tremendously from this blossoming of drone and UAV technology. To accommodate for the complexity of these videos and the time and effort it took to produce them, we decided to shift the judging process slightly from previous years. In the past, our audience first voted on which video they thought was the best during the online voting period. The top vote-earners from this round were then evalu - ated by our panel of judges. This year’s competition was inverted, with our panel of judges watching and scoring the first group of entries. The top ten videos from this round of judging were then voted on by our audience over a 14-day period. This change resulted in the most electrifying round of voting in the history of the competition. Early in the first day of voting, HDR’s “A Childlike View” jumped out in front of the competition, garnering over 100 votes on the first day. Framed from the perspective of a drone op - erator’s child, HDR’s entry not only demonstrated the broad spectrum of drone applications in the AEC industry, but also called to their larger capacity to inspire the next generation and recruit more people into the industry. Using a child’s perspective to explain how drones support technologies like BIM, this not only explains why drones are helpful in the AEC industry to a general audience, but also does so in a way that will recruit the younger generation to the profession. At the same time HDR’s entry was rising, so too was RS&H’s “Wekiva Parkway- Section 6 Design-Build”, which used a combination of drone imagery of both the local flora and fauna and their infrastructure project in Sor - rento, Florida. This juxtaposition of imagery, combined with narration that serves the same purpose–listing the numbers of water crossings (3), road crossings (6), and wildlife crossings(9). The result is a video that contextualizes the project in its natural space. In the same way that HDR’s entry has the potential to draw new people to the industry, RS&H’s entry shows the environmental considerations that take place on a project of that scale. At the end of the first day, two videos rose to the top: Freese & Nich - ols’ “2022 Bois d’Arc Lake Drones Project” and Casale’s “Nitric Acid Plant.” Freese & Nichols has become a perennial contender for the top spot in the EDVY competition. After finishing in the finals in the 2021 competition, Freese and Nichols again returned with an exciting look at the construction of the Bois d’Arc Lake Dam in Texas, the state’s first major reservoir in 30 years. The video’s long sweeping shots–filled with both space and the movement of construction–pair


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