There’s a huge hype around both drone photography and videography these days. Video editing services look for at least a few scenes shot with a drone in their orders. Seems like everybody can afford a drone but not every one of them know to fly in order to get those amazing shots. Flying a drone for fun is one thing, but shooting footage that you can get a great video out of it is completely a different thing. While being better at flying a drone comes with practice, I’ll share you some effective things you can do to enhance your drone footage today.
Plan your drone shots & practice flying
Plan your shots before starting to fly. What do you want from this video or what angle do you want to capture, everything should be pre-planned in your head. Planning helps you to create a picture in your head of what you need. It also helps you to avoid dangerous scenarios. Don’t improvise until you’re very comfortable with filming and flying. Look at your environment first and then try to picture it on a large scale. I also recommend going directly for that footage you want instead of roaming around. It saves you some precious battery time. Planning from the ground is not that easy but at least you should try to have some idea about your path and your line. With several times of practice, you can have a nice, smooth, and steady result in the end.
A pre-flight checklist
Always check your equipment before you start flying. Preparation is the key to success, and this rule is very much effective for drones. If you miss a step, you lose your drone because of it. This simple list of things should be checked before every flight.
- Check your battery is fully charged or not.
- Check for loose or damaged components.
- Check if your propellers are correctly attached or not.
- Check the landing gear.
- Turn the camera off and check the settings.
- Make a calibration.
- Don’t forget to put in the SD-card.
- Scan for nearby people/animals/cars.
- Start your drone.
- Drift for a few seconds. Check if there’s any abnormal vibrations or sounds.
- Take off.
Slow and low
When you fly slow, you allow yourself to capture the best footage. When you fly slow, your viewer gets some time to explore the shot and surrounding. It creates a more cinematic feeling and it increases the production value as it looks more controlled and crafted.
The drone is more controllable with less wind. Fly lower if the wind speed is high. If you see that the wind is 15-20 mph, then you won’t get quality footage, rather you risk damaging your drone.
Reveal the main object slowly
Starting your shot with the main object is a common rookie mistake. You should aim to build up your shot first, just give some more excitement first, give some context, it creates a storyline in your footage. When you fly from distance, slowly reveal the main object by smoothly flying over it while keeping it focused.
This technique sets the scene really nice. You have to make sure that there’s nothing above you before you apply this technique. Aim your camera straight down while looking at the ground, and then start filming when your drone is hovering 1-2 feet above the ground.
When it goes up to 400 feet, try to get a nice unveiling shoot of the surroundings. You can also try panning your camera up, you can get the horizon in the shot by doing it. No rapid movements, just move the drone really smooth.
In this technique, you have an object right in the center of the shot. It can be a moving object or a stationary object but it should look like as if it’s sitting in the center of the image. Have your drone do a 360 around that object, it gives a really cool aerial view of the structure. It looks cool when everything is moving really fast in the background while your main subject is sitting steadily in the middle of the frame. Newer quadcopter drones have flyting modes which include doing a circle around the objects, so this technique is easier to do in those cameras.
You can use your drone to chase a subject which is moving really fast such as a car, a bike, a runner, or anything else. It’s applicable either from behind or front. You just have to rotate backward if you do it from the front. Match the speed of your running subject, and make sure that it’s in the center and go shoot with it.
The Side follow
It’s similar to the previous one, the only difference is you just have to have your camera looking from the side. End the shot by letting your subject slide out of the shot gradually.
‘Golden Hour’ for extra awesomeness
Golden hour means the hour before sunset and after sunrise. Natural light is very important. It makes a tremendous impact on your shooting. The golden soft light from the sun will make your landscape shoot look more professional, dramatic, and beautiful.
Professionals never release a video without applying sound effects to what they show on the screen. Because the sound works like wings in the viewers’ minds. It enhances the footage and immerses the audience, and makes your video look dramatic and professional.
Edit your drone footage
After shooting your drone footages, editing is a must. It takes your video to the next level. You will need to know how to edit drone footages with editing, you’ll just end up having a nauseating, shaky, and squiggly footage.
- Cut out the unwanted footages
- Add widescreen ratio, a text mask
- Use split screen, motion blur, vertigo effect
- Do the color grading
Editing tricks can help you to turn your video into a masterpiece.
To sum up, first and foremost you have to make sure you can competently take off and land. Practice makes perfect so keep at it. Shoot more than you need and fly as smooth as you can. When you shoot more, there chance of having better-looking footage increases. I hope these tips will help you, don’t forget to try these out on your next flight.
John O. Brooks is a university topper on computer science and technology. He is an experienced photographer and videographer. He works for viddedit.com as a professional videographer. He loves to share his knowledge because knowledge is the source of all kinds of power.