Why you should fly your drone off a roof top

Where to take off your drone is often overlooked and an important question for an aerial videographer. I’ve flown my drone off of rootops in Vancouver, Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and now Penang. There is a clear advantage to flying off a rooftop of a sky garden in a busy city. I’ll explain the reasons why and show you some of my videos where I’ve done this.

Why fly off a rooftop?

  1. You’re already high up – If you fly off the 20th or 30th story you already have a height advantage
  2. Line of sight – If you’re flying off the ground some buildings or trees may block your view of the drone. It’s safer to fly if you have good line of sight and if you have to fly shorter distances to get your shot.
  3. Privacy – If you’re on the ground you have all sorts of distractions from curious people asking you questions or traffic that could hit you. This is especially true in Asia.

How to get rooftop access?

Some hotels and modern condos now offer a sky garden. Chances are that it isn’t used early in the morning, which is a good time to fly. I’ve rented Airbnb condos that offer this amenity as well. Sometimes it may cost more, but for the privacy and access you get it’s worth the cost.

Some notes about safety

When you are flying off a rooftop you want to make sure the rooftop is large enough to comfortable land. You also don’t want to fly in the path of helicopters or planes. I’ve also flown before where I lost signal to my drone at about 70M high for about 5 minutes. I was sweating because I wasn’t sure if the drone ran out of batteries and fell from the sky would it fall on the sky garden or miss the mark and hit someone at street level. Make sure you have the home point locked on and the rooftop is large enough. There may be electronic interference with satellites in dense cities so prepare for the worst scenario. Make sure you have good GPS satellite strength and just fly straight up do do crane shots if you want to play it safe.

Check out my online course if you’re interested in learning more about aerial video and photography from me.




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