Tucked away in a small retail store in Wicker Park is the next game changer for the film industry. Owner / photographer / VFX pro Stan Miskiewicz opened 312UAV two years ago as the first and only store dedicated to drone technology and aerial services in Chicago – and other states.
Miskiewicz believes drone usage opens doors for independent filmmakers to capture shots that were formerly too expensive or impossible to shoot. It allows them to get lower altitude shots up to 400-feet with a variety of angles and perspectives.
His “tiny store” of 400-sq. ft. offers professional and amateur filmmakers a selection of 20 different drone models. They range in price from $20 for a hand-sized “fun drone” up to a $20,000 for a Free Fly Alta gimble system.
“Commercial drones range in price from $5,000 to $20,000,” he says.
DJI is the most popular drone brand. Its latest model, the Phantom 4 with a 4K camera, Sony sensor and collision avoidance, sells for $1,199.
New also is DJI’s M600 drone that carries a bigger camera, such as an Arri or a Red. “The gimble that holds the camera also can be used as a Steadicam,” he notes.
But the store, he candidly admits, is secondary to his “working as a drone photographer and with independent filmmakers – that’s is where my real passion lies,” he says.
Miskiewicz has a visual media background perhaps like no other. He started his 25-year career as a media still photographer. He became an animation and special effects artist on features while living in European capitals Berlin, Prague and London for 10 years.
Back in the US, he owned an animation studio in San Francisco, worked with a Colorado company getting Disney started with their IPs on mobile devices for games and was a partner / art director in a Chicago game company that was sold to Zynga games in 2014.
Following the sale, “I wanted to go back into photography and was interested in drones,” he says.
“I ordered parts from China, waited three months for delivery and spent six month building a drone, an HEX copter with a GoPro. When I flew it, I said ‘this is it — a flying tripod!”
He was sold on drones’ potential, especially for commercial filmmaking.
Given the absence of drone services, Miskiewicz opened his drone store last year after receiving an official FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems certification to fly commercially and obtaining $2 million worth of commercial liability insurance.
Miskiewicz estimates the store sells about 100 various drones monthly to customers, “men and women, kids and dads who want to make something together, and professional photographers in every category” – and sales are steadily growing.
312UAV is located at 1261 N. Paulina; phone 773/791-2377.