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Filming Indoors Using a Drone

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Over the past few months we have had a number of requests for indoor filming, predominantly to promote new buildings being opened in and around Oxford. Flying a drone indoors is significantly different, so we decided to hire an indoor open space and flight test the drone.

Available for our use for the flight testing was either the S900 hexacopter with the GH4, or the Phantom 2. Despite the S900 having more control, it is a heavier machine and so we decided to flight test this time with the quadcopter and GoPro camera.

The area available to us for filming was a local village hall. Its advantages were that it had enough headroom to practice climbing & descending and enough width and length to practice various manoeuvres. Battery time on the quad is 15 minutes per battery and we had two available, so we only required an hour to set up, flight test and pack away.

First we practiced takeoff, hover on the spot and land again. We took off from a table so that we could move the drone quickly away from ground affect. Take off was simple; a quick burst of upward vector stick and it was in flight. Hovering is not so simple because, rather than using GPS stabilisation as we do when flying outdoors most of the time, this time the drone was in ATTI mode and so would not auto-correct lateral motion (forwards / backwards / left / right). So hovering is a less refined manoeuvre, requiring fine adjustments.

Landing the drone requires slightly more space (roughly 2m x2m), and again fine movements are the key. As you approach the ground, before landing there is some ground effect that resists and further downwards motion and you have to ‘push’ through that. For the quad it occurs at around 20cm.

Next we tested flying in a straight line. Since we are not using the GPS and instead are in ATTI mode, this requires a different technique – using inertia instead. So in order to get this shot:

  1. plan what you need to film and the direction of the camera / drone
  2. setup, press record and take off
  3. rotate to the required direction
  4. change your body orientation if possible to be that of the drone (the drone may change position during the yaw)
  5. set the drone moving in the required vector by small stick movements
  6. change the vector by small corrections only
  7. plan how to stop the drone (which is the opposite direction of flight)
  8. when done, turn the drone to face away from you and slowly bring it backwards

This straight line flying can also be done diagonally with a little practice. Keeping it at the same altitude (less than one foot accuracy) is tricky if there are obstacles nearby since these will affect the flight characteristics, however it is possible.


  • Make sure the dimensions you have available are at least 4 metres x 4 metres laterally and 3 metres vertically
  • Set the drone in ATTI mode so that you do not get unreliable GPS signal interference
  • When taking off and landing, stand behind the drone
  • When flying the drone in a straight line sideways, stand sideways also so your left is the drone’s left
  • For moving shots, use inertia and small corrections to control the drone. Do not hold on any of the levers
  • Curved shots (in a circular direction) are difficult to achieve. Practice them a few times
  • Climbing diagonally is tricky and may require a few attempts
  • Don’t plan to get your shot first time, some of them will require a few attempts

Considerations for Next Time

Next time we test fly indoors, it would be worth building more obstacle courses to practice a range of manoeuvres. Also, try reducing the gains on the controller so as to get more refined flight control.


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