Drones to provide bird's eye view of Sydney NYE fireworks

Night flying small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles are set to deliver a brand new perspective of Sydney's fireworks spectacular later on this evening.

The Australian Broadcasting Association will be using two sRPAS to assist in the live coverage of Sydney's world famous New Years Eve celebration.

Australian Telecommunications company Telstra will also be flying a pair of specially outfitted sRPAS equipped with 6 GoPros (up, down, front, back, right, left) to provide 360-degree views from above as part of a promotional campaign - with footage from the flight available for viewing via a downloadable app following post production.

Excerpt from itnews.com.au

It (the ABC) plans to send two purpose-built quadcopters equipped with HD cameras and broadcast links 1000 ft above Sydney Harbour, which will feed live video to feature in its annual New Years Eve broadcast, alongside footage from nine harbourside cameras and a manned helicopter.

The remote aircraft will be flown by licenced pilots and will hover within the firework exclusion zone, a spokeswoman explained to iTnews.

The broadcaster has obtained approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to fly the drones at 1000 ft during the event.

"We're thrilled to be able to use this exciting new technology during our broadcast, to give audiences a spectacular and unique view of the world-famous Sydney New Year's Eve Fireworks," said the ABC’s special events boss Justin Holdforth.

The Telstra drones will also fly at 1000ft and feature six HD cameras each. Telstra will make its footage available after the event via a custom Sydney NYE app, to viewers in Australia and overseas.

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Comment by Darrell Burkey on December 31, 2014 at 2:57am

I would have thought the best use of these would be getting footage much closer than a manned helicopter could. Otherwise, what's the point? I was  hoping they would fly through the fireworks.

The Telstra app sounds great but good luck getting any HD video to move across the crappy bandwidth we all live with here in Australia which is largely due to Telstra and politics. 

Comment by Quadzimodo on December 31, 2014 at 3:05am
It is my understanding that they are planning on getting footage much closer than a manned helicopter. They have permission to fly up to 400m within the fireworks exclusion zone, where manned aircraft cannot fly.
Comment by Darrell Burkey on December 31, 2014 at 3:21am

A manned helicopter has more options for cameras/lenses than a quad does. It doesn't need to be nearly as close to get the same shot and probably at much higher quality. Of course, it does cost more. Getting close isn't the aim, getting a unique shot is.

The only thing a UAV can do that a full size copter can't is to get in to the fireworks themselves. I've seen it done before and it's simply awesome. It's great that they are doing this but if they are 400mtr away then it's not going to appear any different then if it was done with conventional equipment. The 3D application is an example of doing something new and innovative and I'm really looking forward to seeing it.

Regardless, the Sydney fireworks are just amazing so it's cool that people are trying new things. 

Comment by Quadzimodo on December 31, 2014 at 3:40am
Yeah, the conventional aerial coverage is always very good. In fact, the view is probably better from home than in the flesh for that very reason. The ABC do have a very well equipped team and would have some cool stuff planned.
I doubt we are going to see an extreme fireworks fly through (like the spectacular scenes seen elsewhere) though, as it would seem to be too much of a safety risk to put an unmanned aerial vehicle in the path of explosives... at night... above so many people. But it certainly would look fantastic!
Comment by Darrell Burkey on December 31, 2014 at 3:46am

One thing for sure is what a great gig for the company involved. Good on them for being the first and taking this on. Congrats.

Comment by Mike Long on December 31, 2014 at 4:25am

Cool to see that they've gone and gotten all the right permissions first that's for sure, guess not flying in around the fireworks might be a safety thing, some of the bigger fireworks would just about vaporise a multi if it got in the wrong spot (have worked on a few fireworks shows and the big shots are impressive with the amount of explosive in them) and then rather than paper falling down you'd have bits of motor and batteries flying off who knows where. Unofficial ones on the net wouldn't have had to worry about Health and Safety issues I guess, just out there getting cool shots

Comment by Jolyon Saunders on December 31, 2014 at 11:44am

I saw these guys out on their barge at 2100-2145 on the 30th Dec. They must have been doing a trail run. They had two drones. They were flying at very long range and high altitude, definitely not within LOS so they must have had special approval for this. Good on them!

At 2130 what looked like a police boat came alongside their barge, with lights flashing and all. It was dark so not 100% it was the cops. They left 5 mins later, and the guys on the barge packed up and left. I saw them do about 3 flights total.

Very cool, especially because the Australian gov't seems so non-progressive with this type of stuff.

Comment by Jolyon Saunders on December 31, 2014 at 11:47am

** by very long range I mean about 300m+, in the dark. Technically not long range. They were also at an alt higher than the harbour bridge, but not extremely high as I could see the lights from their drones using binos.

Comment by ausdroid on January 1, 2015 at 3:45am

Here's the footage.


I have no idea why or how they were allowed to do this. 1.5 million people below them if something went wrong. Flying above the 400 foot limit. If CASA gave their blessing for this, it makes a mockery out of their entire position on drones.

Comment by Andrew Rabbitt on January 1, 2015 at 4:09am
There are a number of exceptions in CASR101 that allow CASA to approve operations that would otherwise be contrary to the regulations


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