You finally broke down and bought a drone. Whether you bought it from dronesvilla.com or straight from DJI, you were tired of watching some of your favorite Youtube videos wanting to know how your most-watched Youtubers shot those amazing aerial shots of their vacation. Now that you have the drone, you are one step closer to capturing the most beautiful aerial footage. Here is your ultimate guide for creating cinematic drone footage. By following these easy tips, you will be shooting some of your best work in no time.
Take Your Time
Making sure that you are flying your drone slowly is key when it comes to capturing cinematic footage. It allows your audience to believe that you are gathering this footage on a crane or a helicopter instead of a little plastic toy. Going slow alone will increase the production value of your shot, making it look more controlled and thoughtful. In order to capture slow footage, be sure to handle the RC control sticks with care and intention. You want to take it easy. Gradual moments are key. If you have to pick up the speed, make sure you do it slowly. The same thing applies when you have to slow the drone down a little bit. If you move too fast while accelerating and decelerating, you could wind up shaking the camera.
We all know the more the camera moves, the more likely your footage will be distorted. When you are shooting on location, make sure that you scout out the location before you start filming. This lets you know what you can do to make the most use of your drone’s battery life. There is nothing worse than getting to a far-out location to shoot content only to realize your drone needs battery power. Pre-planning and visualizing your aerial shots before you do them will help you avoid these issues.
Two Axes Of Movement
This is seen in a lot of popular movies. Two axes of movement essentially means that while you are moving in one direction, you are also moving in another. For example, if you were shooting something moving forward but upward simultaneously, that would create the look. Be sure that when you are using this technique you are shooting both axes smoothly and steadily. Doing so will also increase your production value.
Consider Moving Sideways
Sideways movement, also known as strafing, is a great option if you are trying to shot landscapes as this provides you a way to present it from a unique perspective. You could do all sorts of things with this technique like reveal surprising features of the land, helping your footage to stand out since it is more common for landscapes to be shown on aerial footage only moving forward or backward.
This drone technique is very simple to achieve. All you have to do is strafe your drone from right to left while also tugging the yaw stick in the opposite direction. In order for this to work properly, it is very important that you lightly control the yaw stick otherwise you might spin too quickly. Spinning too quickly can ruin the effect and ruin your shot.
This is a next-level technique only recommended for those that are a little more experienced navigating a drone. Fly throughs really relay on your pilot skills, so if you are shaky in that area it may be best to skip this technique. This maneuver is considered risky because you have to rely on the controller screen of your drone in order to keep it flying around and in the air. When done correctly it adds a pristine cinematic effect, but sometimes it can be an obvious indication that your footage was shot on a drone. It may be distracting for your audience.
Utilizing gimbal movements with your drone creates three axes of movement. Talk about cinematic! Trying gimbal movements paired with your drone movements do multidimensional things to your shots. There are so many ways you can try this, like moving forward while tilting the gimbal up revealing the landscape or a person.
If you are looking for a way to let your viewers know that what you are shooting, whether it is landscape or architecture, it massive or tiny, using the parallax technique is the way to go. It adds an incredible amount of depth to your shots as it gives your viewers a better understanding of how big or small something is. Use nearby trees or other structures to help provide visual aid.
Though this may be an option, it is not recommended. Most drones have a difficult time being precise when performing a 360 pan. Sometimes it can give your footage the whip-pan effect, cheapening your production value. Unless you are really experienced and can work your drone like you work your car, the end result may not be how you want it.
Keep A Look Out For The Wind
Weather also makes a difference in the quality of your drone footage. Windy weather is one of the worst culprits of destroying great aerial footage. If you have a shot scheduled on a windy day, it will be best to reschedule the shoot instead of trying to work around it. The wind can cause your footage to be distorted, giving it the jello look. You may be thinking that there are programs you can use to remedy this, but sometimes those programs are not reliable. When you are flying your drone make sure that the winds are not over 20 miles per hour or if you are noticing frequent heavy gusts of wind.
Sunrise And Sunset
The golden hours are always one of the best times to shot anything. This is because shadows are highly visible during sunrise and sunset. Those shadows define whatever it is that you are shooting whether it is a lush terrain or an artful building. Not only will you capture beautiful footage by going on location and shooting during either one of these times, but you can also expect smaller crowds if you are trying to shot a location that is widely popular. More than likely there will be fewer people around, especially during sunrise. You can use this to your advantage to make your ariel drone footage stand out from the rest.
Using A Flat Image Profile
By filming in the flattest camera profile, your footage will have more cinematic appeal. When you do this, it gives you the best range from your aerial camera. It also prevents the sky and clouds from disappearing while keeping the detail in the darkest points on the ground. It is no wonder your camera settings can make or break the quality of your footage.
Adjust Your Shutter Speed
You want to make sure that your shutter speed is lowered, particularly when you are getting shots that are really close to the ground. Lowering your shutter speed prevents the strobing effect. It may be instinctual to shoot at 500th or 100th of a second, but be cautious. Though it gives you sharper frames, it can cause heavy strobing. It is recommended that you lower your shutter speed anywhere under 100th to 250th of a second.
Correct Any Distortion
Before you shoot is the best time to correct any distortion. Be sure to shoot in 4K and output the footage at 1080p. Doing this will give you more pixel density, allowing you to preserve your image quality. Depending on what kind of camera you have attached to your drone, you may need to add extra effects to your footage before you start filming. For example, there is the optics compensation effect when using a GoPro camera.
Motion Blur Helps
If there is no way you can lower your shutter speed any lower, adding motion blur to your footage in After Effects after you shoot could help your video to look more natural. You can also use an effect like pixel motion blur on After Effects or whatever editing software you use to help add natural-looking motion blur. Motion blur effect will counterbalance any heavy strobing you may have picked up.
Color Grade Your Footage
Do not forget about color grading your footage. This also increase the production value of your footage, adding to the overall mood and tone of your video. Color grading tweaks things like the hue and saturation of targeted colors in your video scene. This is an opportunity for your creativity to shine through. Adjust the colors in your video to fit your aesthetic and your footage will stand out adobe the rest on Youtube. There are a wide variety of color grading plug-ins that can be used in After Effects. These plug-ins provide a simple way to add cinematic value, advancing your footage from the drone looks to something shot on a more expensive camera.
These suggestions are sure to make some improvements to the quality of your video footage, so try them out. Your video will be showing on the big screen!