In the past you would have needed a helicopter, expensive camera equipment and a lot of time to shoot aerial videos. Thanks to drones, today it’s easier than ever to shoot beautiful pictures from the air. We show you how.
Preparation for shooting aerial footage with your drone
No matter whether you have just unboxed your drone or have already done some laps through the air with it – you can start shooting the perfect video at any time. For the most important points around the ascent we have compiled a checklist for you with questions you should answer before every drone flight:
- Is the ascent allowed?
- Have you checked the airspace on site?
- Are the weather conditions right?
- Is the battery charged?
- Is the remote control charged?
- Is the memory card empty?
- Is the ND filter screwed on?
- Have you carried out the calibration?
- Is the drone – remote control connection established?
- Is GPS signal available?
Adjust all settings for the video before you start the drone, so that you don’t have to waste any of the short flight time:
- Set the ISO value as low as possible, preferably to 100. This will prevent the image material from becoming too grainy.
- Screw an ND filter onto the lens. This is essential for video recordings. It acts like a pair of sunglasses for the camera and prevents the images from being overexposed.
- Now adjust the frame rate in the menu. As a rule, 25 frames per second is sufficient.
- Then you can set different image profiles or simply use the automatic mode. Depending on the model of your drone, you will have different options. You simply select a picture profile according to the planned picture material. If your video should showcase a landscape, select the landscape mode. Here there are no fundamental differences to the settings of a SLR camera.
Our tip: You should always have two people for a drone video shoot. This allows one person to fully concentrate on the controls and display on the remote or tablet and make sure the shots are good. Meanwhile, the second person follows the drone in the air and alerts the drone pilot in good time to possible dangers, such as trees or power lines. Some drones can also be controlled using a two-man remote control one for the camera, one for the drone itself.
How easy it is to film with the drone
- Take Off: place your drone on level ground and walk about five metres (safety distance) away from it together with your co-pilot. Most drones have this buffer programmed in and would automatically move away from you immediately after take-off. However, this can lead to problems as you cannot steer your drone in this moment, and it may fly against an obstacle.
- Your Own Location: Decide whether you want to be in the picture yourself or not. The camera is attached to the drone with a ball joint and can be rotated in almost all directions. However, this can also cause you to become the subject unintentionally. The only thing that helps is to change the camera angle and place yourself somewhere else. Plan this point in advance.
- Fly A Drone: If the launch is successful, steer your drone to the recording location. Attention: On average, the battery has only enough power for 20 minutes flight time. The flight over a lake or tree tops should therefore take place at the beginning. Consider the position of the sun for your flight path. The sun may come from the front but should not do so for the entire flight time. Fly your drone on the quietest flightpath possible. Avoid a jerky course and rapid changes of direction. Instead, fly in wide curves.
- The Safe Landing: If the video is taken or if your remote has already warned you of a low battery, it’s time to land your drone again. The best place to do this is on an open and level surface, such as a meadow or an empty parking lot.
A Drone on vacation: Since the most impressive landscapes are rarely on our doorstep, it makes sense to take the drone with you to your holiday destination. Some models are even so handy that they can simply be strapped on your back. Don’t just think of enough spare batteries, but also check whether you need a flight permit before you start your vacation and organize it directly before you start your trip. If you are in the United States and interested in flying outdoors, you are legally required to register your drone with the FAA. The same applies to other countries.
The best video techniques for your drone flight
Aerial videos are not all the same. We have compiled the best flight and recording techniques for you and reveal what you have to pay attention to:
- Panoramic Aerial Shots: You will get the most breath thaking result if you take a panorama to the left or right while moving the drone forwards or backwards.
- Tracking Shots: Moving the drone parallel to the subject requires some practice. You must be able to adjust the airspeed while keeping the focus on your subject. The easiest way is: Don’t vary the altitude, just the speed. The focal length also remains the same.
- Pedestal Shots: Flying up and down without moving the camera is a good way to show statues or monuments and take a look over the clouds. Simple technique: Adjust your elevation control and go straight up or down without worrying about camera movement or focal length.
- Fly Overs: Select a subject while the drone is flying continuously and covers the distance until it passes the object from above.
- Reveal Shots: A perfect technique to reveal something the audience should concentrate on. Start the drone at a point where the motif is not visible. Then slowly move your drone until the motif is visible. Stanley Kubrick uses this technique in “The Shining” to present the Overlook Hotel.
- Slow Motion: Wonderful landscape shots look especially beautiful when they can be played back later in slow motion. For this to work, you should increase the frame rate. The frame rate determines how many pictures your camera takes per second. So that a video does not jerk later in slow motion, the frame rate should be 50 frames per second or higher. Adjust the shutter speed to the frame rate. The s hutter speed must be twice as high as the frame rate. If you have 50 frames per second, the shutter speed must be 1/100 second.