If your drone footage just isn’t up to scratch, you might need some tips. There are many factors at play here, such as camera movement and lighting, and these need to be right and getting it right during a drone shoot is harder than one on the ground. It can be rather tricky to fly a drone and knowing how to operate one cinematically can be a challenge. The following tips are a start:
Slow filming is more cinematic, and it gives viewers the feeling that the footage is taken from a helicopter or such, making a more crafted and controlled product. Use only gradual movements, decelerating and accelerating slowly or you could shake the camera, resulting in distortion or ‘jello’.
The big budget shots you see in the movies have two axes so why not imitate? They’re usually done by flying downwards and backwards simultaneously, at a steady, smooth rate.
When showing landscapes from a unique perspective, try sideways moves or strafing. This will make your footage stand out because most aerial landscape videos move the drone only back and forth.
Strafing left or right and pulling the yaw in the other direction creates an orbit. But go easy on the yaw stick, or you could end up in a fast spin and spoil the effect.
If you want cinematic, then fly-through shots are good, but they’re risky because you have to rely only on the controller screen (FPV) to navigate. Unless you’re confident don’t try it. These shots always look drone-shot, which might distract viewers.
To add another dimension, you can combine drone and gimbal movements to give you up to three axes of total movement. Try flying forward, then tilt the gimbal up to show the landscape.
Use the extreme parallax effects to add depth to your aerial shots, often with structures or trees closer to your drone, which gives the viewer an idea of the size of the surrounding landscape. advantage of extreme parallax effects
Drones usually don’t do these moves precise enough so a 360 pan isn’t recommended. If you’re not careful, this can result in the footage having a whip-pan effect.
We’re all pretty much at the mercy of nature in this regard. You need to avoid heavy misty fog and rain, especially on cold days when condensation can develop on props and the drone, which can actually freeze at high altitudes.
The biggest enemy of the drone is wind which can result in ‘jello’ footage. Just don’t fly on a day with winds more than 30 km/h. Most drones are rated to fly in 40 to 55 km/h winds but your footage won’t be worth wasting your time.
Filming during the ‘golden hours will help your footage stand out from the crowd. Shadows are contrasted which helps define the terrain that you can’t see in the afternoon.
Camera settings are also important, so try to film in the flattest camera profile you can. This way you get the most dynamic range from and it prevents the clouds and sky from blowing out and keeps detail in the darkest areas of the ground.
To avoid the strobing, lower your shutter speed on shots close to the ground. Set it below 100th to 250th of a second and use a filter if necessary to keep the speed down.
If you filmed with a GoPro camera you’ll probably need to remove distortion from the footage. If you filmed at a higher shutter speed, or if you use a GoPro camera without control over shutter speeds, you’ll need to add a motion blur to your footage.
Use one of the post processing programs such as After Effects or Adobe Photoshop e.g., and the two best colour grading plugins are probably Film Convert and Red Giant Colorista.