Drones are a valuable tool for anyone who wants to capture aerial photography or video. The use of drones in photography, agriculture, engineering, and even archeological protection has increased dramatically in the past years. As technology advances, so will the scope and capabilities of drones. Not just for the amateur photographer or drone enthusiast, drones are becoming the go-to tool for many different industries requiring aerial shots or access to spaces unsuitable for people to access.
However, even with the advancements in camera technology and the ease of use of drones, most drone footage is unimpressive. If you’re interested in using your drone as more than a novelty item, follow these tips to improve your drone footage. With the proper preparation and technique, you can avoid the common pitfalls of inexperienced drone users. The result will be footage that leaves an audience wanting more rather than fast-forwarding past the parts they find boring. Here are ten ways to improve your drone footage.
Research the Location
Part of planning your shots is researching the location. Drone footage is most effective when it’s used to reveal something about the place you’re filming. What’s the history of the place? What’s the environment like? This will inform the type of shots you choose to take and help you avoid clichéd images. If you’re filming a coastal town, don’t start your footage from above the shoreline with a straight shot to sea. Look for things specific to that place that will add interest to your footage. The more you know about the place you’re filming, the more enjoyable your footage will be.
Use a Shutter Remote
Many drones come with a camera capable of taking excellent shots. However, many people use the onboard camera to take the footage and then transfer the files to their computer. This is a mistake. Using the onboard camera means you can’t use a shutter remote. A shutter remote is essential to taking good aerial shots. It allows you to take still photos while your drone is flying. This will enable you to capture shots you otherwise wouldn’t be able to get. As well as taking still photographs, a shutter remote is also helpful if you’re filming with a video camera. It allows you to start and stop the recording without flying back to the controller. Without a shutter remote, you’re limited in the shots you can take and the type of footage you can shoot.
Plan Your Shots
This might seem obvious, but many people don’t bother planning out their shots. They’ll take off, fly around for a bit, and then hope that something interesting happens to them. If you want your drone footage to be interesting, planned shots are essential. Plan your shots before you fly. Write down a list of the shots you want to get, and write down ideas for how to achieve them. This will help you make the most of your flight and ensure you don’t miss any opportunities. Planning also prevents you from being tempted to fly straight up and capture a wide landscape shot. This is clichéd, and it’s far less interesting than a shot that reveals something about the location.
It might seem obvious, but flying steady will help you avoid most of the mistakes that new drone pilots make. The best way to fly steadily is to keep your drone at eye level. The best way to do this is to fly with the sun behind you so that you can’t see the shadow of your drone. If you can’t fly with the sun behind you, then use a gimbal to help you to fly steadily. Like the DJI Mini 3 Pro, some drones come equipped with a redesigned gimbal. If your drone doesn’t have a gimbal, you can also use a handheld gimbal like the one made by Polaroid. Any sudden movements or vibrations in your drone will appear in the frame, so it’s essential to keep your drone as steady as possible.
Fly at the Right Height
While the best height to fly depends on the type of shot you’re trying to capture, it’s important to fly at the right height. Flying too high will result in a blurry frame, whereas flying too low will result in a dark frame. You should also be aware of any obstacles in your frame at all times, such as power lines and trees. If you’re using a gimbal, it can help raise the height of your drone slightly so the gimbal can help steady the shot. This will make sure that the vibrations caused by the rotors do not ruin your shot.
Be Aware of Your Drone’s Limitations
While drones have improved in quality and features over the years, they still have limitations. There is a certain height at which you can still fly without needing approval from the FAA. If you’re flying with a drone that doesn’t have an FAA certification, you must stay below this height. You should also be aware of how far your drone can fly. If your drone has a visual range of 100 meters, then it means that you can fly it 100 meters away from you. However, you can only see it if you look directly at it. There are also limitations when it comes to the weight of your drone, so if you’re shooting with multiple people, it is best to fly with the lightest drone possible.
Don’t Forget Audio (Especially in Video)
While you might be focused on the images in your frame, audio is just as important. Most drones have a built-in microphone but will often sound muffled or as if it’s echoing. There are a few ways to improve this, including using a soundproofing barrier, adding acoustic foam, or using an external microphone. There are various options, with some cheaper options costing as little as $10. When recording video, it’s important to remember to turn off any sound recording options. This will help you to avoid unwanted background noises.
Use ND Filters
ND filters help slow down the shutter speed, resulting in a more cinematic look to your drone footage. ND filters help to reduce the amount of light entering the lens. This is beneficial as it can help reduce the number of vibrations transferred to the camera and reduce overexposure when flying in bright conditions. You can use these filters to achieve a cinematic look or keep your shutter speed low enough to avoid camera shake. ND filters come in different strengths, with the strongest filters being 10-stop filters. When using a 10-stop filter, you must adjust your ISO and shutter speed settings to avoid overexposure. ND filters are not just useful when filming at night. They can also be helpful when flying in bright conditions, such as midday sun, because they can help avoid overexposure and reduce the number of vibrations transferred to the camera.
Enable Grid Lines
Many drone users forget to enable gridlines on their drone’s camera. This can result in shaky footage that isn’t very engaging. By allowing grid lines, you can keep your drone steady while keeping the lines in your shot. This makes it easier to frame your photos and keep your drone steady. Gridlines are essential if you want to take adequate drone footage. They will help you keep your drone steady while providing a visual guide to framing your shot. Flying a drone can be challenging. Invest in high-quality drone accessories, and follow these tips to improve your footage. You’ll be able to create a high-quality video that will impress both your friends and the masses.
Use Cinematic Mode
Cinematic mode is a feature that is only available on some drones, but it goes a long way to transforming your footage. Cinematic mode will help reduce the amount of vibrations transferred to the camera, which is useful when you have a heavy camera attached. It will also increase the shutter speed, which will help to reduce the amount of camera shake. Cinematic mode will also help reduce the amount of noise in your footage. You might be surprised by how much your drone footage can improve with a few easy tweaks. Drones are useful for anyone who wants to capture aerial photography or video. With the proper preparation and technique, you can avoid the common pitfalls of inexperienced drone users. The result will be footage that leaves an audience wanting more rather than fast-forwarding past the parts they find boring.
Using a drone can be an excellent way to get some fantastic shots of any landscape, building, or inaccessible space. As drones become more technical and push the boundaries of what they are capable of, the better the user experience will be. However, drone users still need to know how best to manage their drone to get great footage; you need to know the best tips for drone use and be prepared to put in plenty of practice.