In this aerial drone videography guide, you will learn how to capture stunning views from above, using the latest drone technology.
Imagine taking pictures of huge landscapes, moving smoothly through scenes like a pro filmmaker. Imagine mesmerizing your clients with breathtaking drone footage beyond their imagination.
If that’s what you aspire to, this drone videography guide will serve as the perfect starting point.
This guide is more than just a list of tips.
It’s a map for exploring the uncharted skies with the assistance of advanced drone videography, ultimately turning your ideas into stunning videos.
You’ll discover various aspects of drone videography, and how to tell great stories from above.
Let’s get started.
Drone videography is the art of capturing video footage from the sky using a drone. The drones are equipped with high-definition cameras that can capture both still images and video footage.
The drone enables you to capture unique and breathtaking views that weren’t possible with traditional ground-based cameras.
Picture yourself on the edge of a cliff, looking down at a beach where waves are gracefully rolling along the shore.
Or the sun dipping towards the horizon, painting the town with a warm golden color.
Imagine making this entire experience real through a drone shot. This is what makes drone videography so captivating.
Drone videography is much more than just taking videos from the sky. It’s both an art and science in motion. Let’s find out how.
Ground shots are our everyday viewpoint. Drone video allows you to break this monotony, offering a fresh perspective.
Remember the last time you were on an airplane, looking down? Those beautiful breathtaking visuals can be a reality in any creative project you undertake.
I once had a buddy, a real estate agent, who shared a story with me.
He had a listing and the property wasn’t grabbing anyone’s attention. He decided to make a drone video showcasing the entire property in order to provide a fresh and unique perspective. He caught the vast expanse of the property’s land and how it nestled up against this gorgeous forest.
Suddenly, everyone could see the context and charm of the property crystal clear. Before they knew it, it was snapped up by a buyer.
You must have noticed those scenes in movies where you get a bird’s-eye view and take a ride through a tight, unexplored canyon.
With a drone, you can venture into these hidden treasures and put them on display, letting your audience see nature’s concealed spots. Drones give us the ability to get to and record spots that wouldn’t be possible to see otherwise.
A few years back, capturing the sprawling cityscape or the winding river would have meant hiring a helicopter. With drones, these cinematic shots aren’t just for big-budget studios anymore.
Even a college student working on a film project can capture the majesty of a landscape or the buzz of city life from above with a drone.
That being said…let’s get familiar with the applications of drone videography.
The flexible and unique capabilities of drone videography have made it increasingly popular across a wide range of sectors.
We have categorized the applications of drones into two sections:
I. Creative Uses of Drone Videos
II. Technical Uses of Drone Videos
Let’s begin by exploring the creative applications of drone videography.
Following are the six creative sectors where you can use drones for photography and videography:
Expandable 3 shoot | Source: Hollywood Reporter
Drones are changing the game in filmmaking and entertainment. They’re allowing filmmakers to capture amazing shots from the sky, giving us those awe-inspiring aerial views that make movies even more mind-blowing.
Imagine the feeling of being right there in the scene, soaring above it all. Drones are making that possible and taking movie experiences to a whole new level.
Whether you are looking to buy a house or sell one, drones are your new best friend.
Drones give potential buyers an unrivaled look at properties from above. You can see the whole neighborhood, the property lines, and all those cool architectural features that make a place unique. The viewer is getting a bird’s-eye view without leaving the ground.
Drones are turning weddings and special events into something straight out of a fairy tale. They’re capturing those once-in-a-lifetime moments from up high, giving you a totally different perspective of the big day.
From the “I dos” to the dance floor, drones give us memories that are as unique as they are magical.
Inside our “How to Film a Wedding” Course, you will discover the nitty gritty of capturing breathtaking aerial videos using drones.
Ever wondered what it’s like to see a travel destination from a bird’s-eye view?
Drones are giving us the ultimate travel preview. When you’re thinking about your next adventure, you can watch videos that show off the sights, landscapes, and even where you’ll be staying. It’s like taking a virtual tour before you even pack your bags.
In the sporting world, drones have become an integral part of many teams’ planning and strategy processes. Teams are flying drones at practices and actual games as they provide a perspective that until recently was not practically achievable. Everything from soccer and football to surfing and beyond is using them regularly.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are turning sports and fun into a visual spectacle. Whether it’s capturing crazy shots of extreme sports or showing us unique angles at stadium events, drones are adding a new layer of excitement. They’re letting us experience the action like never before.
For instance, Drone U co-founder Paul Aitken shot this incredible Cinewhoop video for a baseball team.
Paul has shared a bunch of tips and tricks for producing awesome Cinewhoop videos with the Isotopes team. This video is packed with insights on nailing different angles for top-notch video production.
CNN Air | Source: Aviation International News (AIN)
Drones are giving journalists a whole new way to tell stories. They’re going where cameras can’t easily go, showing us important events from above.
Whether it’s in hard-to-reach places or dangerous situations, drones are helping reporters keep us informed, no matter what’s happening.
After exploring the creative uses of drones in videography, let’s delve into the technical applications and understand how drones can be beneficial in other sectors.
We will take a closer look at six areas where drones can excel in videography to capture detailed footage:
In each of these sectors, we’ll explore how drones can be a valuable tool for capturing videos.
Farmers are using drones to keep an eye on their crops, check out the fields, and get data that helps them grow food more efficiently.
Drones are like the farmer’s secret weapon, helping them make smarter choices about how they use their resources and take care of their land.
Source: Above Sensing
Before the adoption of drone technology, environmental monitoring relied on methods such as satellite remote sensing, manned aerial surveys, ground-based monitoring stations, weather balloons, underwater vehicles, manual surveys, weather radar, GIS, data loggers, and laboratory analysis of samples.
These methods ranged from collecting data from large-scale Earth observations to detailed analyses of soil, water, and air quality, often involving manual data collection and analysis.
While these approaches are still in use today, the emergence of drone technology has fundamentally transformed environmental monitoring.
Drones offer a cost-effective solution with the ability to capture high-resolution data, greatly improving access to remote or hazardous locations.
This transformation has positioned drones as invaluable tools in environmental research and conservation efforts.
These unmanned aerial vehicles play a critical role in safeguarding our environment. They fly above wildlife habitats, assess the health of forests, and evaluate water quality.
With their bird’s-eye view, drones are making significant contributions to protecting our planet and its diverse ecosystems.
Construction sites are getting a major upgrade thanks to drones. These flying machines are giving us a whole new view of building projects. They help us track progress, plan things out, and make sure everything’s going according to the blueprint.
It’s like having an extra set of eyes in the sky, making sure things get built right.
Cell Tower Inspection
Drones are mapping out our world in ways we have never seen before. They can cover large areas and give us super-detailed maps of landscapes and buildings. They are especially valuable for accessing remote or hard-to-reach areas.
The UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) also can create 3D models and point clouds by capturing images from multiple angles. This kind of information is gold for urban planning.
These aerial vehicles excel at capturing high-resolution aerial imagery, enabling rapid data collection. The use of real-time data can really assist in responding to disasters and making smart decisions.
When emergencies happen, drones are there to help. They can fly over large areas and give rescue teams a real-time look at what’s going on.
This kind of help is priceless when it comes to finding lost or hurt people and getting them the help they need.
Drones have become a game-changing technology in the field of inspections. They eliminate the necessity for human inspectors to enter dangerous or hard-to-reach places.
Drones’ speed and efficiency allow for the quick evaluation of extensive areas. This cuts down on inspection time and reduces disruptions.
Drones’ capability to access remote and demanding environments, such as tall structures or rugged terrain, broadens the potential for thorough inspections.
Additionally, their ability to capture high-resolution data is complemented by AI and machine learning capabilities. This synergy allows for more precise defect detection and data analysis.
Whether it’s power lines, bridges, or tall structures, drones are capturing super-detailed pictures that help us figure out what needs fixing. It’s like they’re the superheroes of maintenance, keeping things safe and sound.
After learning about the various ways drones are used for videography, let’s dive deeper into capturing the best drone videography shots with even more valuable insights.
Aerial drone videography is an art form that combines cutting-edge technology with creative storytelling. With the right guidance and practice, you can capture breathtaking aerial shots that rival those seen in Hollywood productions.
Let’s explore the essential factors you should consider to capture the best drone shots and videos.
Before taking to the skies with your drone, it’s crucial to be well-versed in the regulations governing drone usage in your region. Understanding the rules and restrictions ensures not only your safety but also compliance with the law.
To begin, find out which drone laws apply in your country and obtain the necessary certifications or licenses, if necessary. Many countries require drone pilots to pass exams, such as the FAA Part 107 License required in the United States.
For those in the U.S., we recommend exploring Drone U’s online resources on the FAA Part 107 if you’ve not already passed the Part 107 test. This resource has helped thousands of aspiring drone pilots achieve their Part 107 certification.
Flying a drone is a skill that takes time to develop. It requires consistent practice. In doing so, you’re much more likely to become proficient in getting the most out of your drone.
A great place to start if you’re relatively new is mastering the four fundamental joystick movements: thrust, yaw, pitch, and roll.
Drone U’s one-day Flight Mastery training will give you an excellent head start. In this hands-on course, you’ll learn safe drone operations, strategies for practicing, techniques for getting creative shots, and most importantly, you’ll leave as a much more confident pilot. Click here to learn more.
To enhance your manual flight skills, consider these exercises:
Once you’ve gained confidence in manual flight (often called Attitude Mode), experiment with various basic aerial drone videography shots, including panning, forward reveals, drones, orbits, and birds-eye views.
Remember to execute these shots slowly and cinematically for the best results.
To learn the basics of flying a drone for the first time, we suggest you take Drone U’s First Time Flying Course.
While manual flight is essential, modern drones come equipped with intelligent flight modes that can enhance your videography skills. These modes reduce the workload on the pilot and enable complex maneuvers that might be challenging in manual mode.
For example, DJI drones (as well as many other manufacturers) offer Intelligent Flight Modes like Tripod/Cinematic Mode, Course Lock, Point of Interest, Waypoints, and Follow Me/ActiveTrack.
It’s crucial to understand how to use these modes effectively, as they can greatly improve the quality of your footage.
It’s important to also be mindful of Return-to-Home (RTH) functions, as improper use can lead to accidents, especially on or near water. Familiarize yourself with RTH settings, including altitude and triggering methods.
To set yourself apart as a drone videographer, you must think like a filmmaker.
While drones are powerful tools, they are only as effective as the operator’s understanding of storytelling and cinematic techniques.
Consider enrolling in a comprehensive Advanced Aerial Videography Course, where you can learn how to interpret lighting, camera angles, and motion to create compelling narratives.
Embrace the simplicity of drone videography, focusing on subtle camera movements and creative decisions that enhance the visual storytelling.
You don’t need the latest equipment to produce professional work; it’s your filmmaking skills that truly matter.
Effective planning is essential for successful drone missions. Develop a workflow that includes:
As you gain experience, you’ll refine your planning process and become more efficient in preparing for each flight.
Our ‘Don’t Crash Course‘ prevents you from costly mishaps resulting from unforeseen knowledge gaps.
To achieve professional-looking footage, it’s essential to fly through your shots. This means starting your flight path well before your intended shot and continuing it after the shot is complete.
This approach provides flexibility during editing and helps you develop a cinematic pacing that enhances your videos.
The final step in the drone videography process is post-production. While capturing high-quality footage is crucial, the magic often happens during editing.
Invest time in learning how to edit and color-correct your shots to achieve the desired look and feel.
Consider enrolling in editing classes of professional software like Apple’s Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, or DaVinci Resolve to elevate your post-production skills.
These tools offer advanced features like keyframing, speed ramps, and zooming, enabling you to refine your videos to perfection.
Capturing outstanding drone videography shots requires a blend of technical prowess, creative vision, and dedication to improvement.
Embrace challenges, be open to learning, and most importantly, let your passion for storytelling drive your journey in this exciting visual medium.
Aerial drone videography offers a distinct viewpoint that adds drama, scale, and depth to any project.
Here are some of the most common types of shots used in drone videography:
The drone moves forward or backward, “dollying” toward or away from a subject. This technique adds depth to a scene.
Take a look at this Dolly Zoom Shot from The Lord of the Rings:
This shot sets the context, often used at the beginning of scenes. It provides a wide view of the location, helping viewers understand the setting.
Check out this video to understand more about Establishing Shots:
In this shot, the drone follows a subject, be it a person, vehicle, or animal. It imparts a sense of movement, frequently seen in action or sports videos.
Check out some examples of Tracking Shots in this video:
The drone moves horizontally (left or right) across a scene, like a camera on a slider track.
Here are 6 Epic Slider Shots that you can use in your next video:
Similar to a crane’s motion, the drone starts low and rises into the air, revealing landscapes or cityscapes. This shot creates a feeling of grandeur and scale.
Watch the video below for some insight into operating a Jib:
While the drone remains stationary, the camera pans left or right, capturing wide landscapes or tracking moving subjects.
Check out this video to learn more about Panning Shots:
Drones with zoom lenses (though not all have them) can utilize zoom to “push in” or “pull out” from a subject, altering the viewer’s perspective.
Watch this video of Wes Anderson’s use of Zoom Shots:
When incorporating these shots into your drone videography, consider the story or message you intend to convey. The type of shot you choose significantly impacts the video’s emotion, pacing, and narrative.
Mixing different shots can create dynamic and engaging visuals, enhancing the overall impact of your content.
Let’s move on to exploring the best drones that are perfect for capturing great videos and photos from the sky.
Drone videography has come a long way, offering exciting opportunities for filmmakers, photographers, and hobbyists.
When it comes to capturing amazing aerial footage, having the right drone is important.
Here is the list of the top drones that stand out for their performance, features, and video quality.
DJI’s Inspire 2 is a professional-grade drone that is known for its powerful flight performance, versatile camera system, and long flight time. We’ve included it instead of the newer Inspire 3 because the cost of the Inspire 3 is so much higher.
The Inspire 2 can capture video at resolutions of up to 6K in CinemaDNG/RAW and 5.2K in Apple ProRes when paired with the Zenmuse X7 camera.
It accelerates from 0 to 50 mph (80 kph) in just 5 seconds and boasts a dual battery system that extends the maximum flight time to 27 minutes. The Inspire 2 is a popular choice for filmmakers, photographers, and industrial applications.
Source: Freefly Systems
Freefly Systems Astro is another professional-grade drone that is known for its rugged construction and advanced stabilization system. Astro is a versatile drone widely employed across various industries such as cinema, first responders, and inspection.
The inclusion of the LTE module connects Astro to the internet and directly transmits results to your cloud.
Additionally, it provides a flight duration of up to 37 minutes when flying without any payload, and 25 minutes with a full payload. The Astro is a popular choice for aerial photography and videography in challenging conditions.
Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 is still one of the best consumer drones ever produced. It’s a workhorse that is known for its excellent image quality and intelligent flight modes.
The Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 features a 1-inch CMOS sensor capable of capturing 4K/60fps videos and 20MP photos, providing filmmakers with extensive creative possibilities.
This drone is specifically designed for professional creators, serving as a comprehensive aerial imaging solution. It offers a maximum flight time of 30 minutes.
The Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 is a popular choice for photographers and videographers who want a reliable and easy-to-fly drone. It’s also quite versatile as it’s a great drone for entry to intermediate-level mappers.
DJI Mavic 3 Pro is one of DJI’s most advanced consumer drones. It offers a top-of-the-line camera system with a 20MP Hasselblad CMOS sensor and a 1-inch 24mm f/2.8 lens. It also has a 10-bit D-Log color profile for professional-grade videography.
It can record 5.1K video at 50fps and 4K video at 120fps. It has a maximum of 43 minutes of flight time. The Mavic 3 Pro is a popular choice for professional photographers and videographers.
DJI Air 3 is a mid-range consumer drone that is known for its compact size and long flight time. The DJI Air 3 has a maximum flight time of 46 minutes. It has omnidirectional obstacle sensing, which allows it to avoid obstacles in all directions.
It can capture 48MP photos with dual cameras, providing superior detail. It can also record 4K/60fps HDR videos, resulting in effortless epic imaging. The Air 3 is a popular choice for travelers and photographers who want a portable and versatile drone.
Yuneec Typhoon H Plus is a powerful drone that is perfect for professional use. It has a 360-degree gimbal rotation that can record 4K video at 60fps. It is one of the quietest camera drones, offering up to 28 minutes of flying time. The Typhoon H Plus is a popular choice for aerial photography and videography in challenging conditions.
Source: Drone Trader
According to data from Airdata UAV, one of the leading drone flight analysis platforms, approximately 30% of drone accidents are related to battery issues.
Here are a few steps you can take before you kick off your drone videography mission:
By following this comprehensive guide, you not only ensure the safety and longevity of your drone but also guarantee the quality and safety of your shots.
Remember, a well-maintained drone not only serves you longer but also captures better, more stable footage.
Real estate, construction, agriculture, film & entertainment, tourism, and environmental research are some industries that often seek drone videography services.
Yes, many countries offer certification for commercial drone pilots. For instance, the FAA in the U.S. offers the Part 107 certification for commercial drone use. Click here to download the Part 107 study guide.
GPS mode uses satellites for stable hovering and precise flying, while ATTI (Attitude) mode relies on the drone’s internal sensors, making it less stable and more susceptible to drift. In this mode, GPS positioning and other visual positioning systems are deactivated, requiring entirely manual flight control.
No-fly zones are areas where drones are restricted or prohibited, often near airports, government buildings, or military bases. Use apps like DJI Fly or AirMap to stay informed.
Related: How to remove no-fly zones?
Yes, platforms like Drone U and YouTube have many tutorials and courses. Click here to access the list of courses provided by Drone U.
Follow this drone license guide to know the complete process of registering your done in the United States. In the U.S., for example, drones weighing between 0.55 and 55 pounds must be registered with the FAA. However, regulations and registration requirements vary by country.
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