PHOTO: Snaproll Media’s first flight of the RED ONE camera. They say they are the first in the world to fly the camera.//Courtesy of Snaproll
By BROOKE WANSER
When Spencer Valdez and Preston Ryon started their drone company more than a decade ago, they were among the first to utilize the now widespread technology for commercial uses.
Both men were commercial pilots and hobbyists in the world of radio control planes.
While working for a real estate developer to shoot photos of large properties, they had the idea to use a remote controlled plane to get the shots. To save costs, they began using the technology more and more, before branching out and starting Snaproll Media in 2004.
Director of Marketing and Media Ben Linderman said the technology was so new back then, Snaproll Media helped the Federal Aviation Authority conceive their guidelines for flying drones in the late 2000s.
“Us and a handful of other companies collaborated to write first set of regulations for drones,” Linderman said.
Based in Williamson County, the company has been vetted by the Motion Picture Association of America, and also operates out of Atlanta, Los Angeles, Austin, New York, and Montana.
Their client list includes Mercedes-Benz, Audi, the History Channel, and Samsung. In addition to shooting commercials, they work on movies, most recently, last summer’s “Baywatch.”
With only four to five fulltime employees, Snaproll often works with freelancers in new locations.
Linderman said pilots typically work in teams of two for shots.
“The biggest thing that moved Snaproll into the cinema world was when RED cameras were introduced to world,” Linderman said.
He referred to the RED One camera. Introduced in 2007, the camera has become a popular alternative to the 35mm ones used in the film industry.
With commercial and entertainment customers, “We specialize in anything that would be deemed too dangerous or too close proximity for a helicopter shot,” Linderman said.
The company is reminded of their roots, as they have also filmed material for Williamson, Inc., the county’s chamber of commerce.
Recently, they were involved in a joint venture with Williamson County Schools and MTSU to bring a drone program to Nolensville High School. The students learn about unmanned aerial systems (UAS) during the three-year program.
Linderman said Williamson County remains a great place to be in business, partly due to the influx of people and dollars.
“It’s sort of created a fun environment where there’s always something going on for every audience,” he said, noting his favorite restaurant, Puckett’s. “We enjoy the small town feel.”