“Our Superstar – The Drone Cam” exclaimed New Zealand’s former cricketer Danny Morrison when the broadcast team cut to the drone camera during the RCB vs MI game in Bengaluru.
In Mumbai, Harsha Bhogle conveyed his appreciation on the role of drone technology in live sport as Quidich drones captured the scenic Marine Drive from the skies during one of the IPL games.
Mumbai based Drone Company Quidich Innovation Labs, after four years of constant demonstrations, innovations and uncertain regulations was finally awarded the contract by the BCCI in April this year to deliver compelling live drone shots at the coveted Indian Premier League in 2018. Drones drew the attention of cricketing stalwarts such as Sunil Gavaskar, Pommie Mbangwa and of course all the IPL teams playing on the field.
As a company that has worked for over 5 years in aerial cinematography, Quidich has worked on numerous sporting events in the past such as powerboat racing, golf, tennis and marathons as the official drone partner. Drones add a whole new perspective for the viewer, giving the audience a sense of the stadium experience and how it is located in the context of the city. The shots contribute enormously to the production values and the scale of the entire event. This is the first instance of drones being used for an entire IPL season’s live broadcasting.
The journey to get the drones up in the air at the IPL has been a challenging one. Quidich has been working on this technology for the past 4 years to introduce drones into live sport, but the regulations in the country have restricted the growth and potential of making it possible. Constant attempts were made over the last few years, but for every No Objection Certificate (NOC) received from the regulators, there was a pre-condition of getting clearance from a few other ministries. Going from one Ministry to another and finally trying to get permissions from the local police, the drones wings were clipped and never got a chance to cover a season.
This year, the team at Quidich took a resolve to battle through the bureaucratic process and despite all the hurdles take the drones live at the ViVO IPL 2018. Months before the tournament was to start, an application was made to the Director General Civil Aviation (DGCA), who asked us to get clearance first from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). After a few weeks of chasing and praying, Quidich received an NOC from the MHA. On this basis, one day before the IPL was to begin, the DGCA gave a clearance, with the condition of getting clearance from the Ministry of Defence and all local authorities. This was going to be an impossible task in the given timeline, but the team decided to put its best foot forward, miss a few matches and began the application process at the Ministry of Defence. This was no small task either, because the Ministry of Defence had to take further clearances from the Army Intelligence, Air Force Intelligence, Navy Intelligence and Intelligence Bureau. Apart from all of this, the company also had to get clearances from all local police authorities all the 10 cities, which was another challenge to overcome.
Four years into trying to get drones in the air, one thing that can be said for sure is that system is slowly changing for the good. Initially, we at Quidich thought it would be much easier to go to a foreign country with defined regulations, than trying to do this in India. But at the same time, the support that was extended from individuals, organisations and Ministers themselves has proved that the ease of doing business is an achievable dream. In our desperation to try and get all clearances, Quidich contacted the Startup India/Invest India team who immediately deployed a team on the case and extended support with advice, suggestions and solutions. They were not just talking on the phone, but actually visited Ministries to talk to stakeholders to speed up the process. The company approached Minister of State Civil Aviation, Mr. Jayant Sinha and received unparalleled support from his office to make this project come alive. Mr. Lalit Gupta at the DGCA, despite the limited recourses they have for the drone industry, saw the effort and commitment that had gone in over the years and supported Quidich to complete this journey.
“Drones and Augmented Reality are the new power couple. A duet that can change the face of broadcast across the globe and Quidich strives to deliver compelling experiences to the viewership”
About the Author
Vignesh Santhanam (GMBA 2014) is a Mumbai based marketer with over 7 years of industry experience. As a Software Engineer and MBA in Marketing, he spent close to three years in Warsaw and Singapore prior to pursuing his Management Studies. Post his Global MBA from SP Jain, Vignesh worked with the Maersk group where he managed clients in North Africa, Middle East, and the United States. In 2016, he made a switch to the disruptive tech space.
Vignesh is currently the CMO of Quidich Innovation Labs, one of India’s leading UAV companies. He is also the president of the Drone Federation of India – the voice of the UAV industry that focuses on industry advocacy, governance and policy. Vignesh is a trained scuba diver, a keen follower of politics and current affairs, and a coffee connoisseur.