Horizon Imaging

Drone imagery combined with CGI buildings to show how a proposed Lidl store will look in Hersham, Surrey

Earlier in August we were commissioned by Columbian-based 3D visualisation company MONOMO to take some drone aerial photographs of a business park in Hersham, Surrey which is due to be turned into a Lidl supermarket. Once the images were taken, MONOMO would then super-impose a computer-generated 3D model of the new supermarket onto the aerial photographs to give the public an idea of what the final site would look like. As Hersham is such a built-up area, the most difficult part of this shoot was finding suitable locations to fly the drone, as there are many regulations that govern the use of drones in built-up areas. 
Initially, two sites were identified – one was a technology park and the other a council-owned park / recreation ground. After discussing the shoot with the site managers at the technology park (and providing them with our Risk Assessment for the shoot and copies of our CAA Licence and insurance certificates), they granted permission for the drone work to proceed provided the flights took place after 6pm – once most of the staff had gone home. 
Before and after aerial photographs taken with our drone, with CGI imagery super-imposed to show the location of a proposed Lidl supermarket in Hersham, Surrey (North Westerly view). Click any image to enlarge 
The council-owned site proved to be a dead-end as the council have non-negotiable bylaws which prohibit the use of drones on their land. Fortunately, on the other side of the River Mole, slightly further away from the business park to be photographed is Garsons Farm. After approaching the directors of the farm, they also gave consent for the work to proceed, provided it was after 5pm when their fields would close to members of the public. 
With all the correct permissions in place, the flights were completed successfully one sunny August afternoon and the results were exactly what our client was looking for. Fast-forward a few weeks and we’ve just been sent copies of our aerial photos with the computer-generated supermarket superimposed in the middle – please see the before/after images on the right. 
Operating drones legally in built-up areas is a challenge to say the least. However, by following the rules and regulations as laid down by the Civil Aviation Authority including seeking permission from the owner of the land where the drone is to be flown from and ensuring the drone remains 50 metres from people, vehicles and structures not under the pilot’s control, drones can be safely used to capture extraordinary aerial images in the most urban of environments. 
Before and after aerial photographs taken with our drone, with CGI imagery super-imposed to show the location of a proposed Lidl supermarket in Hersham, Surrey (Easterly view). Click any image to enlarge. 
As drones become more readily available to the mass market, more and more people are trying to cash in by offering commercial drone aerial photography services. However, many of them are not applying for a licence from the CAA, nor are they attending the compulsory ground and flight training courses (where topics such as the rules of the air, drone maintenance and health and safety are taught) or arranging suitable insurance to cover their operations. This is becoming alarmingly commonplace and it is starting to damage the reputation of the drone industry as a whole, not to mention putting members of the public at risk. 
So, whenever you consider hiring a commercial drone photographer in the UK, make sure you ask to see their CAA ‘Permission for Commercial Operation’ (or ‘Permission for Aerial Work’ as it used to be known) first. Any person or company offering commercial drone photography services (where commercial means “in return for remuneration or other valuable consideration” – be it monetary payment, or giving the end client a competitive edge over their competition) without a CAA Licence is operating illegally and should be avoided. 
Do you have a large proposed project or site that would benefit from marketing imagery that combines ultra-realistic 3D visualisations with eye-catching aerial photographs? Contact us today and we can not only take the aerial photographs of your site, but also put you in touch with the companies that can create ultra-realistic 3D models of your project – helping you to start marketing it before so much as a spade touches the ground.