Drone filming of the lockdown Lyon city


Drone filming of the lockdown Lyon city

The story behind the footages of the city of Lyon during the covid-19 lockdown

Aerial video 'Lyon city during the covid-19 lockdown', by Olivier Mercier Video

The return of the  drone pilot

After six months in New Zealand, a stay shortened by a certain coronavirus, I finally return to my Alps.

Confined in altitude after a thousand and one adventures to return from the other side of the world in a period of unprecedented pandemic, I really appreciate this period of rest.


The need for footage

It is during this period that Sami, who manages the Hosiho professional UAV pilot network, to which I belong, appeals to us: to film the big cities during this historical period of confinement.

Several operators have already filmed major cities, Paris, Marseille, Lille, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Nantes, Perpignan, La Rochelle, Limoges, Caen, Montpellier, Beauvais, etc, while I was still in the land of kiwis. It so happens that nobody answered the call for the city of Lyon. "Well, why not" I said to myself.

After six months of discovery and new experiences on the other side of the world, my administrative knowledge for flying in the city is a bit rusty. I decide to get back in the saddle. Insurance, S3 declaration on Alphatango, a brief exchange with the prefecture and five days later I'm on my way to the capital of the Gaules.

Quite frankly, I don't particularly like cities. Too many people everywhere. I'm more comfortable alone in an avalanche corridor with a herd of chamois at 5am than in the alleys of any city.

I've spent the night at my parents' house north of town and I'm heading out early in the morning. First shock: the highway. This damn motorway and its tunnel under Fourvière is forever jammed with traffic. An obligatory stop at this time of the morning under normal circumstances. That day: nobody, or almost nobody. With a few trucks, I must have seen three or four cars in 30 minutes of travel, probably hospital staff and other jobs said to be essential to the functioning of an idling country.

The shooting

To begin with I have the choice between Fourvière or Confluence. I choose Confluence, I know that there's a huge antenna on Fourvière that could be a problem for my Mavic UAV and I don't want to lose the morning's low-angled light trying to fix a problem with the UAV's link.

Finally, start shooting. The town is deserted. I make images of the museum bathed in the first rays of the sun and its neighborhood. I'm limited by the presence of the highway, which I'm not allowed to approach, but the images are there.


I then set course for Old Lyon. A deserted Old Lyon. "It's weird, I'm starting to feel comfortable" I tell myself. Finally the city can be good. Not only do I appreciate this empty city for its tranquility, but I also realize that this opens up new possibilities for UAV piloting and shooting. An exhilarating feeling begins to emerge. On the Saint Jean square a police team is checking me, the officials are very friendly and seem to be surprised that drone piloting is a real job " Seriously?! So you're actually working there?! ».

A few checks and they leave as they came, leaving me on my playground. With my network mission order as a passkey, Old Lyon is mine.

I can even send my drone into the narrow streets only two meters high if I feel like it, and I don't deprive myself. This is impossible under normal circumstances because of the legislation that forbids flying over people. I alternate drone shots with ground shots at Alpha7 III on my carbon tripod.


I chose a light configuration and I don't regret it. Saint John's Cathedral, Courthouse, the docks, Place Bellecour. I leave the car in Old Lyon and walk to Part-Dieu. The streets start to populate little by little, but it remains sporadic. On the way, I wonder where I'll fly my drone without flying over the few passers-by.


Once arrived at the station, a good surprise awaits me: the front of the station is under construction. A construction site that is closed to the public and at a standstill, a wonderful zone of exclusion of third parties as we say in the trade. That is to say, an area that I will be able to fly over legally and from which I will be able to film the neighbourhood. And all this without having to put up any bollards or rubbish!

By bringing the drone back to me, an Army Sentinel patrol controls me. Some very nice guys about my age who just want to know if I'm not a public danger but don't really know what to ask me for as a document. After I show them my mission letter signed by HOsiHO and my drone certification, they let me go.


I spent two mornings freely in this closed city with a small feeling of privilege to do what I have been passionate about for almost ten years: footages.

All these images are now visible on the HOsiHO aerial stock bank, alongside those produced by the other network operators throughout France.


Olivier Mercier, professional telepilot for the Hosiho Drone Network