Drone Video Tips to capture stunning cinematic drone video like a pro

Drones can be used for many different uses from jobs in the agricultural industry to a personal pastime or hobby. Lately, people have been using drones to create impressive and incredible cinematic drone videos. In fact, some Hollywood blockbusters have been rumoured to use drones to great effect. If you have bought a drone, you may have been trying to create cinematic drone videos. It perhaps is not as easy as many people have made it look on YouTube. That is why we are offering this advice to get the most out of your drone. Some of these tips will help make your drone video look like a cinematic masterpiece, rivalling the pros.

 

Types Of Drone Video Shots

 

If you are looking to create cinematic shots with your drone, it makes sense to learn some lessons from Hollywood movie making magic. A lot of the types of drone video shots that they use can be replicated if you know how. First, we will examine some of the types of drone video shots that we are talking about, and then we will think about how to achieve them.

 

Crane Moves

 

If you are looking for a great opener for your film, try a crane shot. Crane shots are the easiest to pull off because they don’t require as much precision as some of the others. If you are completing a crane shot, you just need to start off with the subject in the frame. Slowly, pan around adjusting your height as you do. You need to be careful when completing a crane shot that you do not whiz around the scene. A great shot will give viewers a chance to notice different details.

 

Pan Shot

 

The pan shot involves the camera moving from left to right or right to left. The trick with producing a great pan shot is to maintain a constant, fairly low, speed. As well as this you need to keep the drone steady for a great, clean drone video shot. We will look at video vibrations  in more depth a little further down. When completing a pan shot, try to keep the line as straight as possible. Remember, when they complete these drone video shots in Hollywood, they are typically using a camera running along a track.

 

Tracking Shot

 

A tracking shot can be used when you are following a certain figure, animal or anything else that is moving. With a tracking shot, the camera runs parallel with the chosen subject. Here, it is important to find the right altitude to get the perfect shot of what you are filming. Again, you need to practice keeping a straight line for a smooth shot just like the pros. Although, in built tech will help you correct any small mistakes that you might make.

 

Pedestal Shot

 

A pedestal shot can be used to record a vertical moving target. For instance, you might be recording an image of hot air balloon rising into the sky. Again, speed is of the utmost importance here. To get the best shot, you have to keep the same speed as the target, and this can be quite difficult.

 

Still Shot

 

This is perhaps the easiest shot to make, particularly if you are recording in an indoor area. The drone can record moving activity while the camera remains still. If you’re filming outside it can be difficult to do this due to the wind at high altitudes. Now let’s look at some of the more difficult shots that you can attempt with a drone.

Difficult Drone Video Shots

You might think that the shots we have already mentioned are quite difficult. If you want your video to look cinematic, you’re going to have to try some more nitty and gritty techniques. Remember, when you are choosing your shot, think about the purpose of that piece of footage. For instance, a fly-by or a sweeping shot might be perfect for story transitions if you are aiming to shoot a film with a plot.

A Full Orbit

A full orbit is an incredibly difficult shot to pull off. However, it is going to look amazing if you get it right, so it is worth perfecting. Again, the difficulty is steering your drone in a straight line while avoiding going off course. You can start off by attempting an orbit-by. The footage should begin at the side of the subject and pan to keep it in the frame. As you pan, pull the drone backward and forwards for a basic orbit. Once you have perfected this, you can move on to a full orbit.

With a full orbit, you have got a lot more to think about. You need to keep the distance from the subject and the camera the same throughout the orbit. Altitude should remain the same as well and to do this, you’re going to need to make tiny little adjustments all the way through the shot. Arguably, this is one of the most difficult drone shots to pull off. You should make sure that you have the right gimble on your craft with brilliant dampening. You will probably need a lot of practice to get this right and remember to watch out for weather when filming outside.

Fly Through

You may have noticed this type of shot in the latest Star Wars movie. The footage in that film was CGI however, and you will have to control the movement precisely. A fly through is when you take the camera through a hole or doorway. It is not as difficult as it sounds as long as you keep the camera steady, approaching it slowly. An issue here is more likely to be damage to your drone rather than a failure to get the shot.

Side Slide

This is a cool shot that is going to make your drone films look quite professional. You need to begin the shoot with the subject out of shot and then move until they come into frame and out again. Essentially, you sweep past them but for the best shot, you need to keep the correct altitude. Do this right and it would not look out of place in a Hollywood movie.

 

 

Check out some more drone video tips - Tuts photo shares some great tips to get the most from your drone

Getting The Perfect Drone Video Shot

The first thing you need to think about when attempting to get the perfect drone video shot is the environment. If you are filming outdoors, you must consider wind speed. If there are high winds, it might be better to hold off on capturing the footage. The wind will likely create havoc when trying to get any shot that you want.

Alternatively, you may be thinking about filming indoors. Naturally, filming indoors can be easier because you do not need to take into account different weather conditions. However, there are other issues to consider. You should choose a drone that has additional protection from bumps and jolts. That way, if you accidentally hit a ceiling or wall, your drone will not be ruined. When you are filming indoors, you do want something that is quite nimble and quick. For an outdoor shoot, you want a drone that is sturdy and fairly large.

You need to think about the camera that you are using as well. Obviously, the camera that you use will depend on the size of the drone that you choose. Smaller drones are specifically designed for Gopro cameras, although these maybe have issues with shutter roll. This can cause problems with the video, even if you perfect the shot. That is particularly true when flying at higher altitudes.

Of course, the main issue that is going to affect whether you get the shot you want is going to be the piloting. Getting the best shot is going to take a lot of practice and the key is to move with a smooth and steady pace.

Let’s look at a sweeping shot as an example here. With a sweeping shot, it’s exactly how it sounds. Your camera ‘sweeps’ over the environment. For the best shot, you need to keep it steady and at the same altitude. Don’t rush the shot and only make tiny adjustments with the control. If you do this correctly, you should have a smooth and beautiful video.

A little extra tip is to keep going, even after you have the perfect shot. You should do this as you might think that you started capturing the right footage earlier than you did. In this case, if you stop too early, you will not have all the footage that you need. That can be a nightmare when it is time to start editing.

As well as this, you need to be careful with shooting at high altitudes and capturing the sun. It is not always easy to avoid getting a flare on your video, particularly when shooting landscapes from high above. However, you should try and avoid it where possible as it will affect the footage. Before you take off, you must make sure to clean your lens carefully. Any dust on the lens of the camera is going to disrupt your video footage quite a lot.

 

Direct Line Of View And FPV

There are two ways that you can watch the drone while recording the footage. Either you can keep a direct line of view, or you can use a first person view. For a direct line of view, it is exactly how it sounds. You must make sure that you have a direct line of sight. You can use object and obstacles to ensure that you get a straight line which will help you get the perfect shot. If you are using this type of technique, the types of shots that you’ll be able to accomplish are limited. You can forget trying a full orbit, for instance. Instead, you just need to focus on flying in a straight line directly towards you, or away from you. You’ll still get some great footage of the environment that you are filming.

On the other hand, the expert shooters will almost always use an FPV system. With a first person view system, the camera footage is transmitted to a screen, camera or goggles. You might think that using goggles will give you the best shot. However, this is not always the case. Using goggles can be quite difficult because you will be completely reliant on your spatial awareness. There is another issue as well, and that’s the fact that you won’t be able to see the drone. If you are using goggles, you do want someone else watching it from a direct line of view. That way, you will have two perspectives that you can use to get the right shot.

 

Understanding Post Production

Once you have completed all of your drone video shots, you will head into post production, analyzing and viewing them through a computer. There are drone users who will tell you post is just as important as shooting. We don’t agree, but the good news is that you don’t have to worry about shaky footage because that’s a problem of the past. Most of the drones now on the market have camera stabilization technology. This means that when you review your footage in post, it should be clear of this issue.  

That’s great because it gives you time to focus on something else, colour grading. Colour grading is a technique that hollywood directors use to make their film more interesting or unique. Using colour grading, you can completely alter the look of your footage, giving it a cinematic feel. A great tip for colour grading is to keep it in mind when you are out on the shoot. In particular, aim to shoot flat. Immediately, you will notice that the drone video footage is not quite as interesting at first. However, shooting flat is going to make colour grading easier, giving the image more depth, showing shadow and other details.

Our final thought is to make sure that you practice as much as you can. No matter how easy they make it look on Youtube, drone shoots that look cinematic are incredibly difficult. But with a lot of practice and perseverance your videos are sure to look stunning.

 

Selecting The Right Aerial Camera To Get The Ultimate Shot

The final point is to select the correct aerial camera systems. Many new drones now have high quality cinema quality cameras. Also they have powerful built in features that help a single operator get some of the shots discussed in this article fully automated and with the touch of a button. To find the perfect camera drone be sure to view our latest best drones for sale guides.

1 Comment

  1. Anthony Kwon

    Great post!

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