Drones really are the future! Amazon is currently trialling deliveries by drone, the emergency services are utilising the flying machines to fight crime and save lives, and transport networks are using them to oversee the smooth running of their services. The implications of drone filming are endless and here at TopLine we’ve jumped on the bandwagon to offer stunning aerial shots to our clients. Using drones in your shoot? Here’s what you need to think about!  


The Red Tape

Drones were on top of everyone’s Christmas list last year and although most look like innocent toys these machines are more powerful than they look. With over one million sold in the UK last year, the Civil Aviation Authority have enforced a bunch of rules and regulations on how and where you can fly them. Our in-house drone pilot, Dan, would take great pride in reading your articles 94 and 95 of the Air Navigation Order but to save you the time we’ve stripped down the rules so you know what you need to think about when using a drone in your shoot. 


  • Rule No.1 – You can’t just fly drones anywhere. The UK has some very busy airspace and if thousands of drones are swarming the skies amongst other commercial aircraft, accidents will happen. Believe us, they nearly have with Gatwick airport in particular reporting some near misses between aircrafts and drones. At TopLine we check UK airspace for you before flying so rest assured your footage will make it back safely. 
  • If the Spielberg in you is hoping for a drone shot chasing a car on the M25 or sweeping over crowds at Wembley Stadium then think again. Unfortunately, drones cannot be flown within 150 metres of a congested area or open-air assembly of 1000+ people unless everyone beneath it is under your control. That’s a big bunch of permission forms you’d have to get signed!  
  • Drones aren’t rockets! At TopLine we love a nice high angle shot but don’t expect them to fly into the stratosphere for a good shot! Did you know a maximum altitude of 400 feet high is granted to drones? Anything higher is reserved for larger aircraft like helicopters and aeroplanes.
  • A drone can be flown a maximum distance of 500 metres as long as it is always within the pilot’s visual line of sight. If you’re looking for a longer shot we’d recommend you hire a helicopter!  
  • We love our James Bond films but we’re not spies just yet. Did you know that for privacy reasons drones aren’t allowed to fly within 50 metres of a person, structure, vehicle or vessel not under your control? If you want us to fly closer than this we’ll need to investigate how to get the appropriate permissions for you.  


The Weather

We love flying drones, if it was down to us we’d do it every day. Unfortunately, there are a couple of weather-related factors that stand in our way:  


  • Like cats, drones do not like water which means if the great British weather lives up to its reputation on the shoot we’d have to look at rescheduling. This is a good thing to be prepared for when using a drone in your shoot.  
  • Windy conditions are the bane of every pilot’s life. At TopLine our drone will hold it’s own in winds up to 30mph. After that, we risk losing it to the elements. Therefore, bear in mind windy days may also result in a rescheduled shoot.  


And finally, the reason


When using a drone in your shoot, our top tip is to make sure there is a reason for it. Don’t just go for it because it looks cool. Clients come to us all the time with ideas for aerial shots without thinking about the reason why they want them. Drone shots are there to aid the storytelling and to show something that can’t be seen from ground level. They shouldn’t just be there to impress your audience.  


Thinking about using a drone in your shoot? Take a look at our video production agency and talk to our head of video production to discuss your brief. 


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