Tutorial: How To Capture Epic Aerial Footage
Want to get the best out of your camera drone? In this blog post, our guest writer Will Lindsley teaches you the science of creating great aerial footage with your drone.
Will includes details of the 6 key points for great shots and expands upon each.
Editors Note : Will, the man behind ‘ManAndDrone‘ has created some great guides for flying and filming with drones. We feel they have some invaluable lessons on how to get the most out of your kit. He has kindly let us reproduce versions of them on our blog, this is part five of a series.
6 Keys to Great Aerial Shots
There are many variables that can contribute to great aerial footage.. The most important ones in my opinion would be the following:
• TECHNICAL ABILITIES / CAMERA TECHNIQUE
• LOCATION & TIMING
• WEATHER & MAKING THE MOST OF OUR NATURAL LIGHTING CONDITIONS
If you can master those disciplines, then you are well on your way to creating high-end aerial cinematography.
What’s your Vision? Having a naturally creative or artistic ability will give you a good edge when it comes to cinematography. We can learn all the technical aspects to cinematography we like but at the end of the day if your not out there flying, recording and getting your vision down then nothings going to happen. Try to understand everything in my tutorials then go out and put your twist on it, have an idea then run with it.
It’s important to carry-out proper planing for our creations…Look to minimise any potential problems that could occur.
If I’m doing a sunrise or sunset shot a great app for Android devices is Plan It for Photographers. I use this for my stills photography to learn exactly what time and where the sun is due to rise or set for example. I’ll then plan everything else around the shot and vision I have.
• Logistics – How are you going to get to that location? How are you going to get there early enough to capture the sunrise or sunset?
• Check traffic reports if you plan to do a road trip or have a long-drive ahead.
• Plan for Food and drink if you are out all day, make sure you have enough supplies.
• Plan your flight times around your Drone Batteries, make sure all are fully charged. Check to see whether you have access to a power supply to recharge on location.
• Do an equipment inspection before you leave home, look for cracks, bent props, gimbal / camera problems, sd-card needs formatting? Back-Up memory cards? Create a full equipment list include items such as lens cleaner and filter cleaning cloths.
• Make sure you’ve got your pre-flight checks dialled so they become habitual.
Are you flying in a restricted area? Such as a National Park or Public Space. Will you require permission? What about insurance?
You should have a good understanding of basic photography principals as-well as editing and exporting by now.
If you have studied my tutorials 1 through 4 you will learn enough knowledge in order to produce some good results. By now you should have a good grasp on frame rates, shutter speed, using ND Filters to achieve a desirable exposure, Best export methods and basic editing techniques within Premiere CC.
When shooting video with our drones your controller hand movements should be as smooth as possible. Any Pans or Tilts should be done with precision and allow for enough footage either side of the clip so you can trim it down as necessary to hide any obvious user errors.
Location is key, it’s a huge part in really maximising what these drones are capable of. The most impressive stuff is usually stunning nature landscape shots. For a-lot of people reaching these locations isn’t always an option. So we have to make do with what we have..
- Use the low light conditions to your advantage
- Tell a story
- Make something ordinary interesting by using several of the different shooting styles I’ve mentioned
If we combine this with a couple of sound effects and tasteful music we can really transform something that may seem boring a bit dull into a gripping story.
Weather and Timing
Weather plays a huge part in whether we are able to fly or not. It’s always a sensible idea to plan at least a week ahead by looking at 10 day weather charts for the area you intend to fly in. -10’C to 50’C is our safe temperature range. If it’s raining forget it, same with snow and strong winds. Ideally we want calm sunny / cloudy climate mild temperatures, early morning light and later evening light for sunsets. Filming during the afternoon or midday is also fine providing you have the correct exposure values by using the appropriate ND Filter and Polarising Filters.
It’s important that you have full confidence in your ability and your drone’s ability. I remember when I first started out flying over water for example I was fairly nervous as I didn’t want to risk losing my drone.
Build-up the number of flights. Once you accumulate over 30 full flights you will find your confidence improve.
If you’ve done all the pre-flight checks properly then there’s no reason to doubt the ability of your drone, so send it high, send it far. Make sure you have the flight LOG enabled controller side just in case the worst happens.
Have complete confidence with the area you are filming and yourself. If your adrenaline is high then it will effect your hand controller movements, make sure you are in a calm state before flying so controller movement is spot on.
If you enjoy these blog tutorials, please let us know in the comments below.