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A city’s life in lockdown: Drone news footage of Toronto

A Toronto television station has put together a reel featuring drone footage taken around the city. And, because Toronto is currently under full lockdown, it’s a pretty empty place.

Are you getting tired of this pandemic thing? Us, too. We’re really looking forward to life eventually returning to normal once vaccinations have been fully rolled out. In the meantime, life goes on. Wear a mask, stay at home if possible, rinse and repeat. Not much else you can do about it, except continue to take appropriate precautions. That’s just the way it is.

But for cities under lockdown, it’s still pretty strange.

Drone news footage

Drones have become popular news-gathering tools. In the hands of visual professionals, they can really help to illustrate stories in a way that simply could not be achieved by ground-based Electronic News Gathering (ENG) equipment.

Earlier in the pandemic, there were some pretty memorable videos showing cities in lockdown. Quiet, desolate streets that would not look out of place in a zombie or apocalypse flick.


Toronto is Canada’s largest city – followed by Montreal and Vancouver. And Toronto is under lockdown at the moment. That means stay at home except for essential travel. That has left the city, in certain places, looking a bit like a ghost town.

Today, Toronto’s CityTV released a longer drone video that gives you a better sense of what this usually-vibrant metropolis looks like at the moment:

Trust me…this is not the way the city usually looks…

Other factors

There are a couple of things worth mentioning, which may have added to the ghostliness of the video. First, Toronto has been going through a bit of a cold snap recently, which tends to keep people indoors. On sunny days, people still seem pretty eager to get outside for a walk – likely even more eager after being cooped up indoors for so long.

The second is that one of the shots – the amusement park known as Canada’s Wonderland – is a bit misrepresentative. I mean, the park is closed for the season, so it would look like this anyway. We get why a news drone operator might want to shoot there (roller coasters look cool), but it’s perhaps a bit misleading.

D’uh. This place would look like this every winter…

The other thing to note is that while the video achieves its purpose, the operator really needs to dial in that gimbal to respond more softly to inputs or use a gentler touch on the stick. Nothing detracts from what could be an awesome shot like jerky gimbal moves.

Still, cool to see. In an uncomfortable sort of way.