The Rise of the Drones

Posted at 11:00 on 5th October 2016 by Cinephonix in Skills


The Rise of the Drones: How to make the most of your Drone Footage 

From footage of scenic landscapes, to city skylines, there is no denying that when done properly, drone footage is breathtaking.

It’s clear to see that drones are becoming better and better, which is resulting in more filmmakers using them for their productions. For under £1,000, you can now purchase a professional-standard drone and create shots that until recently would have required a helicopter. Using drone footage can help vary the camera shots in your videos and make your productions more interesting to watch. Here are some top tips to help you improve your drone footage.

Get used to your drone

Although drone technology has advanced so even a young child could fly one, it is definitely recommended that you practice flying your drone before you begin shooting footage. Find a quiet, open space with no people around and learn how to fly and control the drone. It would also be a good idea to do this on a sunny clear day. Windy conditions make flying drones much more challenging and if it is cloudy or foggy it is possible to lose or crash your drone. Drone footage in the fog does look impressive though if you want to try it when you’re more advanced!

Try different speeds

The speed that you fly your drone will have a noticeable effect on your final footage. Flying fast can result in slightly shakier and dramatic footage, however flying slowly gives your footage a cinematic feel. It is worth experimenting with different speeds to decide what works best for your needs. One thing is essential, make sure you accelerate and decelerate gradually or else your footage will look jerky and you could end up crashing.

Drone shot

Experiment with camera angles

Drones allow you to shoot in a wide range of angles which would not be possible with a hand camera. To make your footage more realistic, don’t just film whilst moving on a single axis. Try, for example, flying in one direction whilst slowly moving the camera up or down or left or right. Some drones come with gimbals to help make the camera motion smoother and more professional. You can also try proximity flying – flying close to an object. Cliffs, skyscrapers, and trees are all popular objects for getting close up shots and they help give the viewer a sense of scale. Just be careful not to get too close to the object and end up crashing!

Do not break the law

As much as you might want to get a shot at a certain location, there is a chance that by doing so you are breaking the law and you could get arrested. You often see fancy drone shots in films, such as orbital shots over cities and mountains, and it is tempting to recreate these shots yourself. However, many of these films had to get permission to film in these locations. If you try flying a drone over central London without permission, you will most likely be arrested.  


Battery Life Problems

Probably the biggest inconvenience with drones are their battery lives. Most drones will realistically give you 15 – 30 minutes of flying time, which isn’t long considering the price tag of even the cheapest drones. By the time you’ve got your drone in the air, found a good camera angle and done a couple of practice shots, the warning message will pop up on the screen instructing you to land the drone as it is about to run out of battery. It will probably be worth investing in spare batteries which can easily cost you £100. A positive is that most drone batteries charge very quickly, so you won’t be waiting long to get the drone back in the air again.  

Research different drones

More drones are being released every year, each with unique features and different video quality. It is worth researching types of drones online or visiting a technology shop, such as Jessops. You can view footage taken from drones on YouTube, just type the name of your chosen drone into YouTube and look for test footage. You can also view reviews and unboxing videos, which might help you decide which drone is right for your needs. The video below, created by popular YouTuber Casey Neistat, compares some of the most popular new drones on the market, and he also talks about the benefits of using drone footage and what he thinks are essential features when it comes to drones. Skip to 7:30 to go straight to the drone comparison.

Colour correction

Drone footage has improved a lot over the years. However, colour correction is definitely recommended to really enhance your footage and create a professional looking video. Most video editing software gives you the ability to edit the colour of your video clips, such as Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro X. You can also invest in colour correction software, such as Davinci Resolve, however this can be overwhelming to beginner or casual filmmakers.

Drone Photo

Drones are quickly becoming a must have for filmmakers and there are hundreds of drones to choose from. They offer features that would be impossible to achieve with a normal video camera and can make your video productions more impressive to watch. Remember to research the laws around drone usage in the area that you’re thinking about using it and definitely practice flying your drone in a safe area when starting off.

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