Making the most of filming drone footage in London

London is up there with only a handful of cities worldwide when it comes to the perfect filming location. Iconic landmarks, stunning architecture, and bustling streets – backdrops that tick all these boxes are few and far between.

But how do you capture it in all its glory? How can you possibly hope to do such a big, vibrant space justice on film? The answer is – with a drone.

Filming with drones provides a unique perspective that can almost transport viewers into another world. Whether you’re creating promotional videos, travel vlogs, or artistic masterpieces, harnessing the power of drone footage will give your productions an extra edge and captivate your audience like never before.

Before taking flight and exploring the skies of London, it’s essential to familiarise yourself with the legal requirements and regulations surrounding drone usage. This ensures both the safety of others and compliance with local laws.

Drone usage in London falls under the jurisdiction of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the Air Navigation Order (ANO). Here are some key points to keep in mind that apply no matter where you fly a drone:

  • Register your drone: If your drone weighs more than 250g, you must register it with the CAA and label it with your operator ID.
  • Fly responsibly: Your drone should always be flown below 120m (400ft), kept 50m (150ft) away from people and properties, and at least 5km away from airports.
  • Line of sight: Always maintain visual contact with your drone.
  • Respect privacy: When filming in public spaces, be mindful of people’s privacy rights. Avoid capturing images of individuals without their consent.

To film drone footage in certain areas, you may need additional permissions or licenses. For commercial purposes, you’ll need permission for aerial work granted by the CAA. You’ll also need appropriate insurance coverage. Some locations, such as near airports or sensitive government buildings, require special authorization.

Rules Specific To The Capital

When flying drones in London, there are certain areas where specific restrictions apply. For example, the Tower of London is one of the most difficult places to get permission to fly a drone from in the entire UK. West of Tower Bridge is in City of London airspace, whereas flying directly above the Tower requires approval from the Royal Palace.

Flying drones within 30m of a London road may also require permission from the road authority. The NATS Drone Assist app provides real-time information for most airspace restrictions, including locations where drones should not be flown. Stay updated with any temporary or permanent restrictions to ensure the safety of others and compliance with regulations. Additionally, try to avoid flying near crowded areas, over roads, or within proximity to other aircraft.

Choosing the Right Locations for Breathtaking Shots

London is a treasure trove of visually stunning locations, each offering its own unique appeal. When filming drone footage, it’s important to choose the right locations that capture the essence of the city. London’s landmarks are more than buildings – they’re iconic symbols of the city. They include:

Capturing breathtaking shots of these landmarks from an aerial perspective provides viewers with fresh, awe-inspiring visuals. However, capturing footage near or above any of these sites is extremely difficult without the relevant permissions granted.

Fortunately, London is blessed with beautiful parks and natural spaces that offer a bit of respite. Some notable, more pastoral, locations for capturing drone footage include:

The River Thames meanders right through the heart of London, providing mesmerising views and ample filming material. From Tower Bridge to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on the South Bank, you’re certain to find a stunning view perfect for panoramic shots. Remember, when filming near water bodies, exercise caution to prevent any accidents or damage to equipment.

Tips For Shooting Professional-Quality Drone Footage

Filming drone footage is an art form that requires technical skill and creativity. Not only do you have to consider the composition and framing of each shot, but the added pressure of flying the drone makes pulling off dynamic shots that guide the viewer’s eye a daunting task. It takes an expert to experiment with different angles, perspectives and altitudes to find the most captivating way to tell your story visually.

Drone flying comes with inherent risks, but adopting some sensible practices will ensure a smooth and incident-free experience. For example, avoid flying your drone in adverse weather conditions such as strong winds, heavy rain, or low visibility. Unfavourable weather can compromise both the safety of your equipment and the quality of your footage.

Proper battery management is crucial during drone filming sessions. Always start your flights with fully charged batteries to maximize their lifespan. To extend your shooting window, have spare batteries on hand. Keep track of battery levels during flight and always land your drone before the battery level drops too low.

Can I Actually Film In London With My Drone?

There’s good news and bad news. The good news is that technically speaking, you can film with a drone in London. However, the few spots available to do so, such as Richmond Park Flying Field (SW14 8LN) or Wormwood Scrubs (W12 0DF), are not as vibrant as the bits of London you probably want to capture. Remember those legal regulations from earlier? Here comes the bad news. Since the population of London is so dense, it makes it almost impossible to keep an aerial drone at least 50m away from members of the public. Filming with an aerial drone without authorisation can come with serious consequences – including criminal charges for trespassing or breaches of privacy.

There are lots of obstacles when it comes to aerial drone filming in London that get in the way of your perfect video. Assuming you have permission from the landowner, be it a private landlord or public authority, to take off and land your drone there are still many considerations that need addressing:

  • Public Liability cover of at least £5million will be required when using drones to film in London. Under some circumstances, this may need to be increased.
  • If you’re flying in the Specific Category under the CAA, you must be in possession of a CAA Operational Authorisation. This involves giving detailed flight plans, risk assessments and a method statement in addition to your Operator ID and Flight ID.
  • You’ll also be needed a Drones CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) from the Met Police Service Film Unit (MPSFU). This requires providing the times, locations, production name, production contact, and drone operator contact information. Once issued, this will be passed onto the relevant local police units.

We’ve Got You Covered

It sounds like a lot, but don’t worry – there’s good news. At Wildwood Media, we have years of experience turning London into a captivating canvas for filmmakers looking to showcase their creativity through aerial shots.

We’re experts when it comes to navigating London’s legal requirements, selecting optimal locations, professional cinematography techniques and focusing on storytelling so you can elevate your filmmaking to new heights.

Without a guide to show you how it’s done, things can quickly go wrong when you’re filming in London. That’s why at Wildwood Media we take care of all the paperwork and permissions to let you focus on your creative vision. Let us handle the legal and technical requirements and supply you with cutting-edge aerial drone cameras and veteran cinematographers to operate them.

Schedule a call with us today, and let us help bring your vision of London to life, with video you can be proud of.