Drone ownership is more widespread than ever before, and, as owners are increasingly keen to uplevel their drone videography, there are now plenty of extras and equipment on the market to help them to do just this.
If you’ve recently found yourself the owner of a brand new drone, then you may be wondering how to get the most out of it to produce some beautiful content to enjoy or upload. As well as add-on equipment, there are lots of tips and tricks you can bring into play to create beautiful airborne videos.
Owning a video drone allows you to explore the landscape around you like never before. So, whether you’re interested in ultimately incorporating your footage into professional content or simply want to create some stunning videos to remember a holiday or day out, or even generating photos from your own footage, the hints and hacks below will help.
In this article
Create a Pre-Flight Checklist
Checking your equipment before every flight is important – and massively decreases the risk of your drone going AWOL. Here are the things to check before sending your drone up:
- Is the battery fully charged?
- Are the propellers correctly attached and undamaged?
- Are any elements loose or damaged?
- Have you calibrated your drone?
- Is the camera turned on?
- Is your SD card in?
- Have you looked around for any people, vehicles, or animals that are nearby?
Once you’ve been through the list, you’re ready for take-off! Start your drone, and allow it to hover for a moment so you can listen for any sounds or vibrations that don’t seem right. If all is well, head skyward!
Take it Slowly
It may be tempting to zoom your drone straight up to as high an altitude as possible but resist: flying slowly will usually allow you to capture the very best footage and allows your viewers to savour and enjoy the scenery.
Take account of the wind, too. The greater the strength of the wind, the harder your drone will be to control. If the wind speed is around 15-20mph, there’s a risk of damage to your drone, and the lack of control you’ll be able to exercise means it’s unlikely you’ll capture good quality footage. In this case, flying at a lower altitude is recommended, where wind speed will be lower.
An ND (neutral density) filter blocks light from entering your drone’s sensor – they help to cut down exposure without the need for increasing the shutter speed, which can result in footage appearing wobbly or juddering.
Installing an ND filter is a cost-effective, easy way to achieve higher-quality, professional-looking videos.
If you want to create shots that offer a slow, stately look over the landscape below, then the way to do this is to move the drone in one direction while simultaneously panning the drone’s camera in the opposite direction. To get steady footage, you’ll need to practice this technique!
One thing that can help to achieve a smoother shot is to adjust the gimbal speed; experiment with this until you find a method that works best with your particular drone.
Just as when shooting footage or photos from the ground, adding layers to your drone video can create interesting compositions and add depth. An easy way to add interest to a shot is to use a foreground element: use trees, a building, or a bridge, for example, in the foreground of your shot or to reveal the wider scene.
Panning and Tilting
If you want to use a fast camera movement to capture epic, wide-scale shots of the landscape below, then panning the camera from left to right is a very effective technique; it both showcases the scenery while adding interest and helping to engage viewers with the footage.
A great tip is to start your flight path relatively close to the ground, which will exaggerate your camera movement for added drama. Just be careful that you’re not flying too close to the ground!
The golden hour is the hour following sunrise and the hour before sunset, and these times of day have long been favoured by photographers for the beauty of the light they offer. Flying your video drone during the golden hour, when the weather is clear, will allow you to make the most of the soft, diffuse sunlight and make for truly stunning videos.
And finally, it’s important to remember that it’ll take some time to gain experience with your new drone; it’s this experience that will help you achieve the beautiful, creative footage that you want.
It’s a good idea to plan a flight path before you send your drone up into the air. Think about the elements of scenic interest you want to incorporate, buildings you would like your shots to take in, or rivers you would like it to cross. Once you’ve made this plan, practice flying it with your drone a few times. You’ll likely need to have several practice runs before you achieve the footage you want – but it’ll be worth it.