When film was born over 100 years ago, no one could have imagined that one day we would be flying tiny, 4K cameras 400 feet in the air! And now, with the advent of consumer drones, this capability is available on the high street to anybody with a little money and some time to learn. Drones are an amazing advance in technology, and one with countless revolutionary applications.

As a corporate video production company, our in-house drone pilot, Dan, is always out capturing beautiful footage for our client videos. He’s fully trained and has his Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO) from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority. We asked him for some examples of how you can use drone camera footage, and here’s what he came up with:

Adds higher production value to your videos

We’ve all seen breath-taking aerial shots taken from helicopters in award-winning blockbuster films and they contribute to these films’ high quality, professional aesthetic. Nowadays, with 4K drones available to buy on the high street at prices significantly lower than hiring a helicopter for a day, these sorts of exciting camera angles are boosting the aesthetic of many online videos, TV ads, and commercials too.

Due to their small size and lightweight frames, drones are also able to fly in areas that helicopters cannot reach, which has resulted some very creative footage. Daring drone pilots can get entirely new and exciting perspectives on the world that may never have been possible before, check out this video for example.

Provides a new angle for journalists

Many journalists also use drones, but not because of their high production value. They can quickly and safely reach areas not accessible by foot to provide viewers with engaging footage of otherwise unreachable events. For example, during the Australian bushfires, journalists used drones to cover their news stories. Similarly, a drone company used its technology to get unprecedented views of protests in Hong Kong. Another exciting development is the ability to live stream video footage, which allows for real-time dissemination of drone footage to the public.

Offers help in disaster zones

Drone footage also serves a critical role in surveying disaster zones. As well as news crews, Australian firefighters also used drones during the bushfires. The drones used onboard video and thermal imaging cameras to search for and check the health of koalas affected by the smoke.

They also took advantage of live streaming to relay pictures to the Australian police and rescue services nearby.

Drones also played a critical search and rescue role when twelve boys became trapped in the Tham Luang cave in Thailand in 2018. Drone footage was used to locate access points into the cave and create a 3D aerial map of the area.

Provides accurate surveys of archaeological sites

Drone footage is also ideal for capturing historical and archaeological sites. They can reach areas such as the tops of high walls, excavation sites and roof structures which aren’t visible from ground level to provide a new view of old buildings. They can also be combined with other technologies such as lidar to create an incredibly accurate 3D model of a site. This footage can be monitored in real-time on-site or analysed later off-site.

Aids safety inspections

Drone footage is also a great way to carry out a variety of safety inspections. For example, health and safety officers regularly use drones to assess the condition of wind turbines, combining their oversight with special software designed to spot issues. In these cases, the use of drones instead of helicopters also minimises risk to human life.

Revolutionising agriculture

Drones are increasingly popular among farmers, because the high vantage point they provide can reveal important information about their land more quickly and efficiently than a manual survey. Drone surveys can give an early warning of issues such as fungal infestations, irrigation problems and soil variation, as well as tracking routine changes like crop growth. Drones can also be fitted with a variety of additional sensors, including hyperspectral, multispectral, lasers, ultrasonic and thermal sensors which can provide rich data about a field. These can even be combined with crop-spraying – a role typically left to far more expensive fixed-wing aircraft – as seen in this video by DJI.

Assists police surveillance

There are many ways in which drones can be used for public safety. For example, last year the Metropolitan Police began using drones to track down dangerous drivers on British roads. Police have also begun experiments with thermal cameras mounted on drones to pursue suspects on the run, which has so far proven very effective. Drones are also ideal for monitoring events with large crowds such as football games and protests, as their bird’s eye view allows officers to spot issues earlier than officers on the ground might be able to.

Supports search and rescue

Emergency services, such as firefighters and the police, also benefit from drone technology. By equipping them with thermal imaging cameras, firefighters can locate fire victims within buildings. This helps them to carry out a rescue more efficiently and with lower risk to human life. You can see some examples of drones being used in fire rescue here.

The police force also use drones with thermal imaging cameras for search and rescue missions. Drones can cover in a matter of minutes the same search area that would take a team of 30 people an hour to cover. This video shows how police in Lincolnshire are using drones in their search and rescue operations.

Monitoring wildlife monitoring

We’ve all seen incredible drone footage in wildlife series like Planet Earth and Our Planet which use stunning aerial imagery to entertain and educate us. Beyond allowing us to document wildlife, drone footage also enables us to monitor the natural world in new ways. For example, drones can help with wildlife population surveys and the mapping of both land and marine ecosystems – entirely from above and without causing a disturbance in the same way human contact would.

Drones are also being used to deter poaching in areas of South Africa, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. Thermal imaging cameras are used to locate the poachers, and the drones are then flown towards them in an effort to raise the alarm, effectively spooking them and deterring them from entering wildlife sanctuaries.

Drones are great fun as a pastime, whether they’re used for racing amongst friends, for an aerial photo of a family event, or just for fun!

If you’re looking to use drone footage in your video project, contact our MD, Jamie, for more information.