BBC Newsnight Drone Flying Live in TV Studio

Flying inside for the BBC

Sky Filming has been involved with the BBC on various projects, but it all started with a nail biting performance on BBC Newsnight!.

In August 2012 we got a call to ask about the feasibility of flying a drone in a BBC studio live on air!

This was a very exciting proposition because, at the time, no one had ever done that before. Furthermore, they wanted the ability to broadcast live video from the drone as it flew around the studio.

It was quite a nerve-wracking day for all involved, as we only had a few hours to practice what we were going to do, where we were going to fly at specific times throughout the show. We also spent a lot of time configuring our drone’s live video transmitter to work with the BBC’s broadcasting equipment, which we did manage in the end after many hours of tinkering, though the results had a lot of interference due to all the cabling and metal in the studio.

By the time we’d finished messing around with video transmitters, there was only enough time for one practice run of the drone flights using members of the studio crew sitting where the guests would be. The guests themselves only had a vague idea that we were planning to actually fly a drone in the studio while they were talking about them.

Gavin Esler, the presenter, was the only one who’d seen us practice so had a fairly good idea what was going to happen. However, he did not know we intended to land on the table in front of them while they were talking, which is why he put his notes down there before they were blown away by the drone propellers.

Still, despite the BBCesque apparent lack of planning, there was a lot of time spent on risk assessment and to insure no one would be hurt if it all went wrong.

Thankfully nothing went wrong and the programme was a great success, with the entire studio cheering after we went off air. It was an amazing experience which at the time was relatively early days in the drone filming era.

The only downside is there was quite a lot of paranoid negativity in the show, so we would have loved to have been given an opportunity to speak up ourselves, being more expert than the ‘experts’ invited to speak!

Link to BBC Newsnight Article on Drones with video (click the image)

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