A STUDENT from Uley is the latest addition to a specialised camera company that uses remote-controlled helicopters to take its shots.

Bexmedia, which is owned by Dursley-based managing director Craig Hellen, is a video and motion graphics company that uses Bexcopter, a lightweight six-rotor helicopter which is capable of carrying a video camera slung underneath.

It ensures that the firm can capture stunning aerial footage of landscapes and properties and now the Gloucester firm has taken on University of the West of England student Tom Zandt-Valentine, 20, to pilot a brand new multi-rotor video helicopter.

Tom has been flying model helicopters since the age of 15 and became interested in the project when he met Craig at a nearby skatepark.

A student of audio technology at the university in Bristol, Tom is currently working for Bexmedia full-time during a placement before returning to university for his final year.

Preparation for launching the Bexcopter commercially has seen Tom writing a 40-page operations manual to pass Civil Aviation Authority licensing tests which govern the device’s commercial use.

Craig Hellen said it made Bexmedia one of only 200 licensees nationwide who are registered to operate similar multi-rotored video devices for business purposes.

“We have two helicopters we use – a smaller version and a larger one. They have been a significant investment but the market is really good, and it’s growing,” he said.

“The stumbling block for us is often convincing people of what it can do. The results really are stunning and it’s a matter of opening people’s eyes to its potential.

“It’s really for anyone who needs aerial surveying, large businesses with big premises, heritage sites which want to promote themselves... the possibilities are endless.”

“Also because it can fly up to 400 feet above the launch site and because it’s much smaller than a full-size helicopter, the range of what it can shoot in terms of close-ups and wide-angle shots is really quite impressive. It’s obviously also much more cost-effective than hiring a helicopter and a film crew so we’re very excited about its potential.”

Although Tom is a student at UWE, Craig said that working with students is something which has business benefits, as well as social ones.

“I really like what Gloucestershire University is doing with entrepreneurship and enterprise and the programmes it is putting on are testament to that,” he said.

“I enjoy giving youngsters like Tom an opportunity to get into the workplace and it’s a great way to recruit talent.

“And if you train them up yourself, that’s great for business because they do things your way and there are no costs to pay for, either in training or recruitment.”