What's The Best Alternative to Filming with a Drone?

What's The Best Alternative to Filming with a Drone?

With drone laws becoming more restrictive, a cable camera may become your go-to way of creating stunning, drone-like shots without a drone.

I bet you’ve seen many cool videos created with a drone on social media. This probably made you consider using a drone to film your next creative project. Or you just want to capture some fun times with your friends or family. I’ll admit: for a long time, drone shots looked like the coolest thing ever. But then we learned about drone laws. And that they would make it impossible for you and me to film in many of our favorite spots.

Yes, “no-drone zones” are a thing. And you might have to register your drone.

And need a drone piloting certificate.

And get permission to film.

To top it off — drone laws are now getting tighter.

Tighter drone restriction laws are coming

Governments all over the world continue to crank out new restrictions on drone usage. This article from New York Times illustrates how Americans are forced to register their drone. A huge (and growing) chunk of the American airspace is considered a so-called “no-fly zone.”

Before you even start filming with a drone, you’ll need to put in hours of practicing to learn how to control it. That is if you don’t want it smashing against the ground, a tree or a nearby building (or heaven forbid, one of your friends).

In the words of the famous 21st-century sage — ain’t nobody got time for that.

So what are you to do?

Keep reading, the solution is simpler than you think.

Maybe you’re like me, and you’d rather get great results faster and smarter. Wouldn’t it be nice to actually enjoy filming your adventures from day one? You’d get to focus on what really matters to you — being creative and making great-looking content.

But if not with a drone, how else can you achieve this? Well, have you considered filming with a cable cam?

That’s what I’d do, and here’s why.

What are the most common drone restrictions?

There’s no way around it — there are places where you won’t be able to use a drone under any circumstances. You may be close to an airport or a military base. Or find yourself smack in the middle of a busy city swarming with people. Or in a national park. This can ruin your filming goals, not to mention your day.

With a cable camera in your backpack, you’re safe knowing that your choice of filming locations just got way bigger.

How large can drone restricted areas be?

Sometimes, the area in which drone use is illegal may cover a several mile radius. According to NY Times, over 900 new drone restricted places have been set up in public areas across the USA. And that’s just in the last couple of years. And as outlined in this article from the Washington Post, stronger regulations are coming.

Solution: A cable camera goes where drones can’t

Cable cameras have been a filmmaking staple for decades and continue to be used in big-budget Hollywood productions and small indie projects.

What’s a cable camera?

The name says it: it’s a camera moving on a cable. A simple, quick and safe way to capture your story in motion, with any camera you may have.

But aren’t those heavy, bulky, and expensive, you ask? Not anymore.

You can fly a cable camera many places where it’s hard or downright impossible to fly a drone. Shots like moving through narrow spaces such as dense forests and trees, between (and through) cars, and in and out of windows. If you’d rather film super close to the ground, you can do that too — all the while knowing your gear is safe from impact and damage.

A cable camera also lets you safely film close to people. More on that in the points below.

Filming with a cable camera instead of a drone in places that are narrow or hard to navigate through saves you time and keeps your filming equipment safe. It also allows you to repeat the camera movement in these tricky spots time and time again until you’re confident that you got that perfect shot.

Do you need to register your cable camera?

You can start playing with your cable cam right out of the box. It’s super simple to use, and you don’t need to report or register anywhere to use it. The best part is — you don’t even have to pass any tests or get special piloting certificates to use a cable camera.

Let’s say you’re working on a single project where you’re considering using drone shots for some footage. I’m sure you don’t have the time (or real need) to go through the process of registering your equipment, getting a drone license and spending hours figuring out how not to crash your drone. Using a cable camera bypasses all those hurdles.

How can you film drone shots indoors?

Truth is — you can’t. If you use a drone that is. But, you can get awesome indoor shots with a cable camera.

What kind of filming situations may require indoor shots?

For example, you can create unique, aerial shots for weddings or company events, capture concerts, and festival atmosphere, showcase beautiful interiors for your real estate business or get perfect tracking shots for your new film project. In an upcoming post, I’ll tell you more about how using a cable camera kit can improve the content you are making for your business. So keep an eye out for that.

Being able to film great indoor shots means you finally get to film your kid’s birthday party in a fun, unique way. No more boring shots on a tripod. No more nausea-inducing handheld footage. No compromising. You’ll get to enjoy your time with your loved ones and film beautiful memories you’ll want to look back on in the future.

Is it safe to film close to people with a cable camera kit?

Drone shots are beautiful. They go high up in the air and provide aerial shots of the world around you. But you don’t always want to film the scenery. Sometimes you want to get closer to your filming subject. And this often means filming people.

Using a cable camera gives you peace of mind. You know the path it will pass each time, no matter how fast you go. And that provides you with the freedom to get closer to any human subject, closer than you ever could with a drone.

Safely film high-speed action with a cable camera

You want to capture the movement of the people in your shot — but also emotions, and reactions. You can’t do this with a drone if you are, like in Canada or the UK, limited to only filming people from far away. Forget about close up shots if you’re using a drone. You’ll just have to capture that intense action shot from 50 meters (feet) away. Pretty anticlimactic.

If you’re filming action shots that require several takes to nail, safety is of particular importance. Besides, would you feel comfortable flying a drone close to your friends’ heads? Over their shoulders? Drones are unpredictable. To let your creativity run free, you need a head clear of any distracting thoughts. That’s what a cable camera provides.

Unleash your creativity with the Wiral LITE cable camera kit

Filming with a cable camera will boost your creativity. Feeling unrestricted by laws and regulations you’d be facing with drones, you’ll get more time to discover new filming angles, experiment, and take more creative risks. You’ll get to explore your craft and continue to improve as a filmmaker. 

This is why we created Wiral LITE, the world’s first super portable cable camera kit.

Wiral LITE is compatible with all cameras up to 1.5kg / 3.3 lbs in weight 

In our recent survey, Wiral LITE customers agreed that easy setup and simple control system are two of the top 5 features of our cable camera kit.

You can read more about Wiral LITE and how it can help you film your best shots ever here.

Got any questions? Comments? 🤔

Sound off below, I’d love to hear from you 🤗




Write a comment…

  • Ash

    Let’s be honest, a drone can do all of this, and if you’re shooting commercially. You’d have a license and the ability to shoot anywhere like the above. You can see the cable and you have no control over the pivot or the frame really.. don’t think this is it chief

  • Amund

    Good start to the blog!

    Keep them coming, Nikola! :)

  • Helle

    What a great read!

  • Emma

    Great article! I look forward to see more from your blog Wiral! 😍