Aerial filming that includes scenes of landscapes, buildings, structures, machines, people and so forth, are all impressive ways of showing the scale of a business operation or focusing on a particular aspect.

Advances in drone technology have made aerial filming an accessible and affordable option for a business video. Before drones the only way was through expensive helicopter or light aircraft filming, which put it out of reach for most businesses. However, it’s easy to get carried away with the ‘boys toys’ fun of using a drone – and if the filming is badly planned the shots may not deliver the results you expected. It could end up being a complete waste of money.

How do you make the most of aerial filming as a useful tool for conveying information and key messages?

Helicopter hire is expensive – so there are clear advantages for using a professionally operated drone. It also allows the video director to get tricky shots in places that a helicopter might be unable to access. You’re not likely to find a professional standard drone or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) as professionals prefer to call them, in your local gadget shop. A UAV is a serious machine, set up and flown by a specially trained and qualified pilot and camera operator. These people deliver stunning creative and technical results. 

4 considerations before embarking on aerial filming

If you think aerial shots would enhance your next video production here are our tips for getting it right.

1. Your Story

All technical decisions for your video production should start with the story. While you may have some great ideas about what your video should look like, including an aerial component, it is essential that it fits with your story. Don’t get blinkered by the tech. Yes it’s fun to have aerial shots, but ultimately they need to have a strategic role. A good example is the opening aerial shot of the Palace of Westminster, which we used for a set of videos we produced for the Houses of Parliament. It immediately puts the video into context.

Another example is the very short opening scene of the video we produced for AJW – where the camera flies over the company’s impressive head office and warehouse. It’s short, sweet, and sets the right tone.

2. Planning

While it’s true that technology has made it possible to film aerial footage on a more limited budget, it is essential that you use the UAV hire time to your full advantage. That’s why planning is so important to ensure that all elements are in place – e.g. considerations for weather and wind conditions, permission to fly – and that you’re using the right technology to get the shots you want. Of course, if you employ professional operators they will ensure this happens and deliver great video content and value for money.

Planning for Aerial Filming

3: Don’t try doing it yourself

A drone bought on-line may be fun to use but is it right for the job, can you operate it properly, and will the results be technically good enough to integrate with the rest of your professionally produced video? You may also run the risk of breaking the law, especially if you fly your drone too close to buildings, roads or people! The safest and compliant route is to call in the professionals.

Professional drone with professional operators

4. Keep within the law!

Before embarking on any aerial filming, a quick review of the Civil Aviation Authority’s rules and regulations governing drones/UAVs or any other type of aerial filming is absolutely essential. For example, if the filming is for commercial use (e.g. a promotional or sales video) only qualified licensed pilots can fly the machines. There are serious fines if the rules are broken!

We’re all becoming increasingly aware of the issue of drones and privacy, but public safety is also a key consideration. For example, in public areas drones/UAVs are limited to within 50 metres, under the most common licensing conditions. However, extensions can be applied for on a job-by-job basis. The maximum legal height anywhere is 400 feet above ground level. Professional UAV operators will advise on what can and cannot be done and they will take care of the necessary flight permissions.

Aerial filming over Poole Harbour

At Sightline we love to incorporate aerial shots in our clients’ videos.

It started years ago (long before drones) when we regularly hired the ITN helicopter for filming over London. As a thank you, they sent us this little model chopper!

ITN Helicopter gift, aerial filming pre drone

First and foremost we consider the video’s objectives, then the story, then the messages. If there’s a place for aerial scenes to create an impact and leave a lasting impression, we involve our UAV experts.

If you would like to discuss aerial filming further with us please get in touch. Call 01483 813311 or email [email protected]