These top drone aerial filming tips, flying techniques and maneuvers are easy to follow and with some practice your aerial filming will improve dramatically.
Great aerial filming is more than knowing camera settings such as white balance, shutter speeds, aperture and ISO settings.
To get great aerial video, you need to plan your trip, check your equipment and visualize the type of video or photos you want to capture. This post covers all of the above and more with some great aerial filming videos.
Drone Aerial Filming Tips
Tip 1 – Practice And Enjoy Your Aerial Filming
Read as much as you can about aerial and ground filming. Know your camera inside out. If you have local courses in photography, it is a great way build your knowledge. Then practice what you learn and don’t be afraid to film with different settings and techniques. It is also a great idea to view other top aerial videos and get a feel for the filming techniques, which were used. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself.
To start off, here is the some of the best drone video shots from 2018 with a DJI Phantom 4 Professional drone. These are 4k video shots showing all the various filming angles, techniques and camera settings. Awesome.
Here is another selection of great drone video shots, using many different camera angles and flight modes to get the best video.
Tip 2 – Planning and Packing For Aerial Filming
While it is great to spontaneously grab your drone, jump in the car and head for the mountains and start filming. However, it may not be the best way to guarantee great aerial video. If you do not plan, then something will be forgotten or you will waste valuable time when filming. There is nothing worse than forgetting a vital piece of equipment or realizing something isn’t charged.
Questions you need to ask to ask in preparation;
What will I be filming – scenery, people or an event etc.
Lighting Conditions – think about the best aerial camera settings, filters, your flight path and flying angles.
Weather – If it is windy or with a lot of gusts, then maybe it would be best to cancel for another day. The same when it comes to rain. Most drones don’t fly in the rain as the electronics will get wet and fail. If it is very sunny, then you will need to bring a sun shade for your remote control.
Planning, visualizing and thinking about your shots will allow to know exactly what you are looking for when you get in the air. You won’t be flying about looking for the best scenery or photo shot. This will also save you valuable flight and battery time.
Equipment – Is everything fully charged and pack some spares. Check to make sure your drone, remote control, camera, mobile phone or tablet are all fully charged. Check to make sure that your drone has no damage or bent equipment from a precious flight. Pack battery chargers, spare propellers, propellers, motors and tools etc.
If you are driving a long way to your aerial filming destination, don’t forget to give your car a check over. Check the oil, water and that the spare wheel has full pressure etc.
Pack A Picnic – It is very hard to film great aerial video on an empty stomach.
Tip 3 – Relax And Concentrate
When it comes to taking great aerial shots, you need to be fully concentrating on your flying and camera. If, in the back of your mind you are thinking about the oil light on your car or your spare wheel is flat, you will be distracted in your filming. If you mind is distracted before your head off on your journey, it will be quite easy to forget something.
Write a checklist and mark it off as you pack. Then you won’t forget something.
Tip 4 – Fly And Film Slowly
Everyone likes to zip about with their quadcopter. Unless your are filming and following a sports event, then to get the very best aerial film, fly nice and slow. This allows the viewer to subconsciously pull in all the areas of the picture without rushing. Aerial filming at a slow pace is a tremendous cinematic technique that is quite often overlooked.
Tip 5 – Piloting Your Quadcopter
Be gentle, slow, flowing and relaxed in your flying using the remote control sticks. This allows your drone stabilization equipment to perform at its best. Accelerate and decelerate gradually. Same with banking your quadcopter.
Now, IMU and gyro stabilization technology has improved tremendously over the past few years so flying fast and banking quickly should also give you very stable aerial video. But to get the best aerial video without jello effect or focus problems then fly smooth using controlled movement of the sticks. This will guarantee you the best aerial footage.
Tip 6 – Use Intelligent Flight Modes
All the latest quality drones from manufacturers such as DJI, Yuneec and Walkera all have intelligent flight modes. These modes such as Orbit, Waypoint Navigation, Points of Interest and Follow Me allow the drone to fly autonomously while you concentrate on the camera and filming. You don’t have to worry about piloting the drone with these flight modes. So if you have an old drone, perhaps it is time for a nice upgrade.
The latest DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom have the following intelligent flight filming modes;
- Rocket: Ascend with the camera pointing downward.
- Dronie: Fly backward and upward, with the camera locked on your subject.
- Circle: The Mavic 2 circles around the subject.
- Helix: Fly upward, spiraling around your subject.
- Asteroid: In Asteroid Quickshot, the Mavic 2 flies backward and upward. It takes several photos, then flies to its starting point.
- Boomerang: The Mavic 2 flies backward around the subject in an oval path, rising as it flies away from its starting point. It then descends as it flies back in.
- Dolly Zoom: The Mavic 2 Zoom flies backwards and upward. It then adjusts the zoom during flight to keep the selected object the same while the background changes.
You can read further about the latest drones with intelligent flight modes in the article entitled “Top Drones With GPS, Autopilot And Camera“.
Tip 7 – Learn From The Greats
Watch how aerial shots are captured by viewing various top drone scenic videos on YouTube. You can also view very scenic photos from National Geographic’s best drone photography gallery. These is a lot to learn from studying the masters of filming. Many drone aerial scenic video are captured flying forward and straight. This is just too routine. Don’t be afraid to mix it up with the below aerial filming techniques and maneuvers;
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Reverse Filming – while your quadcopter is flying in reverse, then gradually drop down and continue to film.
Horizontal flying – this is a great way of revealing more detail in big landscapes.
Gimbal Angles – Most drones have 3 axis gimbals. So you can fly your quadcopter forward, horizontal or bank and at the same time angle your gimbal on the pan, roll and tilt axis. For example tilt the gimbal / camera straight down as you fly vertically up.
The above are advanced flying and filming techniques. With some practice you will master these filming techniques and your aerial footage will be top notch.
Orbit a scene – This is a fantastic aerial filming technique. You can learn to orbit using the sticks on the remote control. Or if you have one of the latest drones such as the Phantom 4, Yuneec Typhoon H then Orbit is an autonomous flight mode. The top of the range DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom have many intelligent flight modes including “Circle”. You can also orbit any object or scenery using Point Of Interest and Waypoints.
Sunrise and Sunset – Aerial filming at these times can give you true outstanding shots. The light and shadow effect is different than during mid morning and afternoon hours. Read as much about cameras setting for sunrise and sunset. Perfect filming at these times and your aerial footage will be stunning.
This next video show you Orbit mode on the DJI Phantom 3. It’s a terrific aerial filming angle. The Phantom 3, Inspire 1, the Phantom 4 Pro and the top Inspire 2 have loads of flight modes which make filming all the more easier.
Tip 8 – Weather And Aerial Filming
Weather is a big influence on aerial filming. The ideal conditions are clear or cloudy days with very little wind. Here are some tips.
Avoid flying and filming in rain, mist and foggy conditions. On very cold days, your props can also freeze especially at higher altitudes.
Strong wind and gusty conditions is a big problem for aerial filming. It can cause camera jello shake as well as blowing your quadcopter off course. When flying manually with your remote controller sticks, then you will be find it difficult to fly smooth as gust of wind will move the drone several feet before you can react.
If you really need to film in windy conditions, then fly using autonomous flight modes such as waypoint navigation. This will give you the best chance of smooth aerial film in windy conditions.
Your drones flight system will stabilize the drone along the waypoint path checking its GPS, IMU and Gyro. The flight controller will keep re-positioning the drone hundreds of times every second. It is great technology.
Tip 9 – Avoid Risky Aerial Filming
Learning what to film and not to film is important. You definitely don’t want learn what camera shots not to take by crashing your drone. They are expensive and the whole hassle of having it repaired is never a good experience. You could also loose your drone out of your line of sight and never see it again.
Here are a couple of situations where the aerial film may be terrific but it there also could be a high risk of crashing or losing connectivity to your drone.
Narrow fly through shots – Piloting your drone though narrow gaps which may give great video but there is always a big risk of bumping into something.
Flying in woods and forest – Packed with trees and shrubs, it can be very easy to crash. If your drone loses connection with your remote, then you are in trouble. You can’t see where you are flying and your drone will enter failsafe return to home mode. It will be practically impossible for your drone to return back to home point safely.
Flying near hunting areas – You can be guaranteed that the scenery will be exceptional but you will be shot down.
Flying in no fly zones – No fly zones are important for safety reasons. So it is important to stay clear.
Bad Weather – As mentioned about, never fly in rain, mist, fog and very windy conditions.
Tip 10 – Keep Learning With More Drone Aerial Filming Tips
Here is another few of the best drone photos from National Geographic.
To finish, we have another couple of terrific videos, which give you even more aerial filming tips and advice. This includes great camera settings. I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips. Practice and enjoy flying and filming.