Explore how we made it possible for ITV to get shots where other drone operators couldn't fly

How we were able to help

The main challenge for a standard operator at both locations would be how to maintain the legally required minimum 50m separation distance to any person, vessel, vehicle and structure NOT under their control.


Sure all drone operators can fly as close to people involved with the flights as is deemed safe, but how do you control those people that haven't been safety briefed, or simply aren't aware the drone is even there in the first place.

Take off and landing location:

During the flights:

The first thing any drone operator will need to do is create a controllable take off and landing area, which for a standard operator in this case would be a 30m distance from the drone to any uninvolved party. Something that would then need to immediately be extended to 50m once the drone takes off.


For this job a standard operator would have needed to:


  • Controlled access to the adjacent public areas, potentially via closure and security barriers.
  • Controlled access along the public footpaths and rights of way, potentially using support from local authorities.
  • Controlled the traffic on the adjacent roads, potentially via road closures or suitable traffic control.
  • Controlled the adjacent bus stop, potentially via closure and relocation to a temporary position outside of the take off and landing area.
  • Notified AND controlled access to all of the adjacent properties via closure or restriction of any persons coming and going.


All of this would be time consuming to organise and most likely incur significant additional costs, either by external third parties, or by simply employing the additional staff to implement it all.


The required restrictions would have also caused significant disruption to the public using the area, something that would have been far from ideal, especially given the locations and that filming was taking place on the build up to Christmas.


How our OSC made it simpler:


The standard drone operator's 30m legally required control radius at the point of take off equates to 2,827m² of area that requires control. Using the 5m radius from our OSC, this is reduced to under 79m², which is a massive difference.


For this case scenario, it therefore made the ice rinks the perfect take off and landing locations, as the size of the ice rinks was all of the separation to the public we would need, with all of the other hazards being pre-mitigated through our OSC procedures.

As a standard operator is required to maintain a 50m separation distance to any uninvolved third party during their flight, uncontrolled elements on the ground can then further restrict the possible flight parameters once in the air. Especially when it comes to overflight of uninvolved third parties.


For this job a standard operator would have needed to:


  • Maintain a minimum altitude of 50m above the ice rinks in order to avoid coming within 50m of persons, vessels, vehicles and structures not under their control.
  • Restricted flights to specific directions, including avoiding flying over public areas, footpaths and roads without putting yet further safety mitigation measures in place.


All of this would not have fit with the director's brief for this shoot, as they wanted the drone to descend from 400ft down to within a few feet of the ice surface.


How our OSC made it simpler:


Our dedicated OSC drones are designed and built to not only withstand failure, but be able to continue to fly under control in the event of multiple given failure scenarios. This means our drones are safe to perform overflight of uninvolved parties, with considerably less restrictions.


Also, our reduced minimum separation distances meant we weren't restricted to 50m above the ice and we were able to use our OSC drones and procedures to again mitigate the risks and get the shots the director wanted.

Other factors:



Our dedicated OSC drones have an operating temperature range of -10°C to 40°C, which turned out to be vital for this job, as the Manchester should in particular ended up with an ambient temperature of -7°C. Something that would have been a flight safety risk to many drones.


Camera choice:


As Dancing On Ice is an important part of ITV's main entertainment line up, using low grade cameras and lenses was not an option.


Our OSC drones are capable of lifting a range of cameras and lenses, including RED, Alexa, Panasonic, Sony, Canon, Blackmagic and much more, as well as dedicated focus control equipment.

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