Are you looking to take your videos to the next level? The answer is to add some killer drone shots into the mix. The art to master just a few different drone shots can leave you with the ability to create high quality videos.
Your instinct as a new drone pilot is to just pop the drone up and spin in circles. A 360-degree view is awesome but not a great option to add to your videos. The hard part is figuring out what kind of shots will actually look good.
Learning to fly your drone takes time and practice. However, once you have the basics down, check out these strategies to create the best aerial footage. A combination of manual and preset shots can leave you with a blueprint for success. This article can be applied to any drone; however, the automatic preset shots are specific to the DJI Mavic Air 2.
How to Create Killer Drone Shots?
First off, when you pop your drone up in the sky always do a 360-degree view to know where all your stationary hazards are in your location. You want to make sure you thoroughly know your surroundings before you get carried away with getting the perfect shot.
Additionally, check the altitude of all other objects in the area. When you fly at a certain level, you should know everything in the area that could become a problem.
However, keep in mind there are many hazards changing throughout your entire flight. For example, weather or birds can become a problem quickly. So, always pay attention and have a visual observer. It can save you a drone, broken properly, or worse, injuring another person.
Movement of Your Drone
Here are the basics to know before you even pop the drone up in the air.
Fly Through Your Shot
Ideally, you will want to make sure to start and end your flight well outside of your intended clip. Do not cut your footage too early or start late. You always can trim your videos when you are editing. But you cannot add more footage.
This practice is referred to as flying through your shot. With more available clip, you will have room to make better adjustments during your edit. Additionally, when manually flying the drone, this allows for you to get a smoother flow with steady movement during your intended clip.
Consistent and Steady Movement
The key is to keep the gimbal movement consistent. Any jerk will provide less than ideal footage. A small movement while flying will turn out to be a problem when viewing on your screen. It takes time to develop the muscle memory for slow and constant speed while flying. Therefore, practice is important.
Additionally, be careful with speed. Some shots work well with flying quickly, while others require a much slower approach. Cinematic drone shots of landscapes require slow and consistent movement. It can be a challenge. However, you are able to adjust the speed of your camera movement and can shoot in tripod mode to stay slow and steady. In your settings, you can adjust the speed of your gimbal movement. Slowing down the movement, along with practice, will help you create flawless cinematic drone shots.
Use these techniques to create better videos:
- Avoid jerky movement
- Fly close to natural objects
- Add speed to your video clips
- Do not overuse drone videos
Start With These 4 Movements
At the beginning it is important to learn the movements of a drone. Once you get the drone in the air, practice moving in all different directions. It is important to be able to smoothly fly forward, backwards, up, down, and a combination of those while moving the pitch of the camera.
The key to changing any type of direction is to do it slowly. Slow and consistent movement prevent any skipping within your drone videos.
For the Mavic Air 2, there are several different modes for camera controls. You have the option to create a custom mode. Either way, become very familiar with all movements. For example, some locations you will not have room for even a small error.
The Basics for Better Drone Videos
Prior to take-off, perform your preflight checklist.
Practice taking off out of your hand. This will be helpful down the road when you are in more difficult take-off locations.
Get used to the drone movements. Remember, all controls are opposite when flying towards you. Yes, it may seem straight forward. However, it takes practice to get used to this change of controls.
There are two joysticks. These control your movement: forward, backwards, left, right, up, and down. Depending on your mode these will all be different. However, familiarize yourself, so you can quickly move the drone in the right direction when needed.
The back left button controls the gimbal pitch.Get comfortable with controlling all three together to take some killer drone shots. Practice flying forward away from you. At the same time slowly change the pitch of the camera. The key is to practice moving both joysticks at the same time with slow and consistent movement.
Now, switch it up and fly the drone towards you. All controls work the opposite as before. It takes some practice to get used to the change of controls.
Now change the altitude. The drone will fly differently when heading higher into the sky. Keep in mind wind can drastically change from the ground to 400 feet in the sky. Play around with your drone to get used to the different movement.
Once you become comfortable with the movement of the drone in a straight line, now it is time to add some changes in direction. Start flying forward and gradually move the drone to the left. The key is to change the direction slowly to prevent any skipping in your video.
Direction changing is important when following trails, roads, or rivers. You just want a slight change in direction so that your footage gradually changes direction. Quick movements will not look good when editing your footage.
At first, avoid waiting for the battery to get extremely low. This can create more pressure to land very quickly, which at the beginning can lead to mistakes.
Another key point, practice landing your drone in your hand. Landing on the ground can kick up moisture and dirt into your drone. The best practice to landing your drone is to backup towards you.This way all of your controls are the same as the movement on your remote. Otherwise, your controls will be opposite. Typically, this method is super helpful when on a moving boat or around water trying to land the drone.
Manual Drone Shots For Stunning Videos
Once you feel comfortable with the basics, it is time to add some more advanced drone shots.
Fly Straight or Backwards
This is a simple shot where you just point the camera straight out into the distance. All you must do is fly the drone. These shots can work great when compressing a long flight into a short period of time.
The Forward Reveal
Start with your camera pitch pointed at the ground. Slowly start flying forward while lifting the pitch. This drone shot is perfect for revealing dramatic landscapes.
The Backwards Reveal
Again, another option similar to the forward reveal. Start flying backwards with the pitch of the camera facing the ground. Slowly raise the pitch to showcase the landscape as you continue to fly backwards.
Start with the camera looking straight up at the sky. As you move forward, slowly bring the pitch of the camera down towards the ground.
The Upward Movement
Start with a forward reveal. As your drone approaches a subject in the distance, such as a group of trees or a building, slowly release the pitch. Gradually, fly the drone upward over the object to reveal the landscape in the distance. Continue to fly your drone showcasing the landscape past the object you flew over. Additionally, flying tight between objects, like trees, can look great as you begin to bring the drone upward.
Bird’s Eye View
The awesome part of having a drone is to get high in the sky and shot straight downward. It is a unique perspective. First, you are going to pick an altitude up to 400 feet. Then, you are going to fly left, right, forward, or backwards across your landscape.
Start with the drone right in front and facing your subject. Slowly begin to fly the drone upward and backwards. As you get going, slowly add a slight upward motion to your gimbal pitch.
The Fly Down
Start high up in the sky and slowly bring the drone to the ground. If you have a subject in the shot, make sure to plan where they will end up in the frame as you fly closer to them.
Quick Fly Across
Start with the drone facing the direction you want to fly. Slowly and consistently accelerate just above the ground. Move quickly to obtain a blurring effect.
Automatic Settings to Create Killer Drone Shots
The circle moves in a 360-degree view around the subject. You are able to set the distance from the subject to get close-up or distant shots. This shot works well with actually viewing what your subject is doing.
The helix starts close to your subject and gradually moves farther in a circular and upward motion. The shot works well to show the subject up close before revealing the entire landscape.
These shots start just above your subject. The dronie slowly pans up and outward. This is a great shot when you want to show yourself and your entire background.
The rocket starts just above you and flies straight upward. This is a great shot to show the landscape surrounding you, such as you being on a secluded beach from a bird’s eye view.
The boomerang gives a 360-degree view with an accelerated curve. The drone starts and ends close to you resembling the movement of a boomerang. The drone flies out away from you in a circular motion. Once at the farthest position the drone returns back to you.
The asteroid starts off the same way as the rocket. It shoots straight up and away from you as the subject. Except, when at the farthest away it shows your surroundings and the earth together in a 3D-globe.
Start with the drone the exact distance and location you want away from yourself. Put the drone into one of the follow modes: follow mode or active track. These shots can be from behind or parallel to your subject.
Hyperlapses are used to speed up time. You are able to create a time-lapse video. These are perfect for condensing a long flight into a short clip.
You have control over the altitude and pitch of the camera.
Select a series of points that the drone moves between.
Circles around the selected object.
Select an object and direction.
Head Out and Start Taking Killer Drone Shots!
The creation of killer drone shots will take time to master. The more you head out and practice, the better. You will be surprised with how quickly you can improve your drone videography skills. After all, practice is the key to success with drones.
If you are looking to take better drone photos, check out 10 Tips to Creating Incredible Drone Photos.