In this video, Rowan explains some of the rules and regulations that come with using a drone to capture aerial footage for your next corporate video. In short, anybody using a drone for commercial purposes, such as capturing footage for a corporate video, must have received correct training and a “Permission” from the CAA, which is known as a PfCO.
Even with a PfCO, the pilot is bound by strict rules that determine where and how they can fly. A drone cannot fly above 400ft altitude, over 500m away from the pilot or out of the pilot’s Visual Line Of Sight (VLOS) unless the CAA have granted the pilot special privileges, which is very uncommon and outlined in the pilot’s operations manual. If this is something that your drone pilot tells you they can do then make sure you check their paperwork thoroughly.
There are also additional requirements, such as keeping a distance of 150m from crowds of 1000 people or more, and staying over 50m away from people, property and vessels that aren’t under your control. (This means that you need explicit consent from anybody or anything you intend to fly near.)
Simply putting up signs is not enough; if the pilot shouts “run for cover” everybody near the drone must be fully aware that a drone could imminently fall on their heads without question.
This also influences where you can take off in the first place, as many “public” spaces are private land and you’ll need consent from the land owner to fly there.
On top of the rules, a commercial pilot also has to complete a risk assessment before each flight. If the risk of any activity is too high, they’ll need to stop flying and find an alternative, such as using a jib, pole, or cherry picker instead.
So, sadly, getting great drone footage is not quite as simple as heading down to your local electronics store, buying the nicest drone you can find and heading out for a quick flight. It requires a lot of planning, preparation and a certification before you can even start rolling the camera.
All the red tape may seem like a pain but you have to consider that these devices can be very dangerous if not used with care. The drone we used in our video can fly at speeds of up to 40mph – you only have to think about what damage it could do if it hit someone or it flew into a building to understand why there are rules in place. Although most drones may seem fairly safe and easy to fly, you have to remember that a drone is a large piece of metal and plastic that’s could fall out of the sky at any second while moving very quickly!
Although it may seem daunting following such strict guidelines, the team at Southpoint Films are trained and insured for aerial video work, ensuring that your next project goes without a hitch.
What about using drones internationally?
If you’re not in the UK you may be reading this and feeling some relief that maybe your country isn’t this strict. I hate to break it to you but the rules are fairly similar throughout the world. I’ve looked into flying my drone in countries like Japan, Hong Kong, France, The Netherlands and other European countries, and the rules are generally much the same.
To make matters worse, the commercial license you receive in one country doesn’t usually transfer to others, so you’ll need to take a test or submit an application specifically for each country you want to fly in. (If you’re flying for recreational use the rules are a bit different, but you can’t do anything with the footage that would be considered commercial use. In the UK at least, simply saying “I didn’t charge for the drone” doesn’t count as non-commercial if the end purpose is commercial.)
Well that’s bummed me out
While it’s easy to dwell on the rules and regulations, and justifiably so, it’s important to remember that drones can open up some interesting opportunities for capturing footage that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to get without hiring a crane, jib, cherry picker or full-on helicopter. This makes it really cheap (in the scheme of things) to get some amazing shots.
Not only can we fly our drone outside, but if you have a large space like a warehouse you’ll find that several affordable models of drone have enough sensors in them to make flying inside fairly safe and easy to do. You can get really creative when you have the flexibility to put a camera literally anywhere within a space.
Just remember to do it safely and within the law!
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