Drone shooting really takes your photography and video content to the next level. But before a pilot can operate a plane, they need a pilot’s licence.
Likewise, a drone requires a nimble, dextrous pilot who knows how and when to use their gear to maximum effect. Consider this your snappy, in-flight training with these tips to get the best out of your drone and amp up your cinematography.
First thing’s first, read the manual. It sounds simple, but putting an hour or two to proper use when you unbox your drone to read the manual will pay dividends later on. Get to know the model, understand the functionality, and also understand what it can and can’t do. The troubleshooting advice is also incredibly beneficial, so you can read up on what to do if something unexpectedly goes wrong whilst out shooting.
Another obvious one, but don’t run before you can walk. Spend some time just flying the drone at the start, without recording any footage. It might be tough because you want to see exactly what shots you can get, but take the time to get comfortable first. Remember: steadiness is next to Godliness. Get the mechanics down first.
Slow, fluid movements add brevity and drama to your drone shots. Adapt to the axis, fly upwards and slightly sideways or angle slightly backwards whilst you descend to open up the shot. Don’t stick to the up and down, left and right axes, look for ways to add real drama to the shot.
Streamline your shots
Practice makes perfect, so when you’re not shooting for a client or a project, spend time practising certain key shots to get them locked down for future filming – panning, tracking, leading, orbits, fly-overs etc. Learn how to expertly control the drone and to make every shot super smooth and elegant.
Right time, right place
It seems straightforward, but aim for golden hour shots. Just after sunrise, just before sunset when the sky is warmly ablaze and the light is softer, more ethereal than the intensity of the midday sun. Understand the time of year, plan for sunrise/sunset and maximise the period of best light on shoot day.
Whilst everyone else might stick to the same old angles, go a little off piste. Pan around your subject, get in close and go for detail rather than altitude, fly parallel and overhead. Get every angle and direction possible of the subject, so you have the maximum footage to edit later. Every angle adds interest, so take the time to get as many angles covered as possible.