Flying a drone to film aerials for your corporate video production in the middle of a city is no easy task, at least in the UK.
There are a huge number of rules and regulations which (NB I'm not a drone pilot) seem to me to boil down to needing to be more than 50m away from anyone not 'in your control'. And this is 50m horizontally from a line straight down from your drone, however high up it is. So this pretty much rules out flying over roads, houses, shops etc unless you can get the permission of every single person inside... tough to do in a busy city like Bristol.
There are a few super-qualified and thus super-expensive drone operators who have more advanced qualifications to get round this to a degree but for the average drone op with their DJI Phantom, it seems almost impossible to get those sought-after dreamy urban aerials - at least legally.
Or so we thought until a conversation with the Bristol Film Office, whose job is promote our home city as a film venue.
I have never come across a more helpful local government office. And by the ever-increasing amount that Bristol is on our TV / film screens these days, they know their jobs well.
They have a pre-prepared list of permitted drone launch sites covering cool Bristol views, where the hard bit of gaining basic permission from the land owner has already been done. Crucially too the take-off areas are, though right in the city, out of the way of the public so you can maintain the 50m control radius.
Launch sites include the top decks of two multi-storey car parks, a couple of regular parks and the roof of the M-Shed Museum on the Harbourside. Our local drone guy couldn't believe it was so easy!
The only downside of shooting like this in a city is that you can only go straight up and down to preserve the 50m control zone. Of course it would be great to be able to shoot more dynamic aerials but with 120m of vertical movement possible and as much panning / tilting as you like, I am more than delighted with the results.
And as I was not actually flying the drone, I had time to get a few more regular time-lapses of city life for the archive too!