Aerial videography training tips
Good aerial photography will take more than just attaching a camera to a drone. Knowing how to properly pilot the unmanned aerial vehicle will help, but in order to get the best footage, it can be more complex.
This article contains advice for drone pilots who want to get the best videography possible. Here’re 18 tips from the professionals to take anyone’s aerial videography from amateur to expert quality:
1. Pick out a drone.
It is advisable to not just go with the first drone that is recommended by a store representative. Those in the market for a UAV should search for a drone that meets their personal needs.
For first time buyers, it’s a good idea to buy a cheaper, easy to use model. Drone crashes happen inevitably to experienced pilots and even more commonly to newbies.
Novice pilots looking to get a drone for commercial use should check out online reviews from verified purchasers before committing to buying an expensive model. If insurance is offered at the time of purchase, it’s best to take it out.
2. Choose a camera.
This is the obvious next step in the aerial photography tips. Some of the latest drones come with a camera built-in, but most of the time buyers will have to get a camera to go along with their UAV.
This is once again a time to shop around before jumping into a purchase. The camera chosen will have to fit the drone without weighing it down too much.
CCD cameras are often a preferred choice for aerial photographers, as their quick shutter speed will help in managing the picture quality that can be affected by the vibrations of the UAV motor and propellers.
3. Don’t be afraid to fly.
There has been a lot in the news about rules that pertain to drone usage. Despite the rumors going around, there is legally no enforceable law that states that people can’t pilot a UAV professionally.
There are plenty of schools that offer certification but as of right now this certification is not required by law nor is it legally recognized.
For anyone hired to take aerial pics of the natural landscape below, they can go ahead without fear of being prosecuted.
4. Check to make sure you’re not breaking the rules.
Currently, the FAA prohibits the use of drones within 4 miles of an airport and anywhere near a military base.
All drones flown must be registered online after purchase. UAVs are not allowed to ascend higher than 400 feet and are never to be piloted outside of the operator’s line of sight.
5. Get good at maneuvering the drone.
Even though the schools that offer drone operator training are not mandated by law, it’s still a good idea to enroll in a course.
These kinds of courses will teach students how to safely fly their drone and build skills as they learn.
There is no replacement for experience, so when possible UAV owners should take the time to practice flying their drone in an open field or somewhere safe.
6. Have a preflight checklist and go through it every time.
This is one of the aerial photography tips that is simple, but sometimes goes overlooked. Things you should do before launching include, charging the battery to full life, making sure the camera has plenty of memory space, and checking the UAV for damage or obstructions.
Drone operators need to make sure the propellers are turning easily and the rotors don’t have dried-on debris from a previous flight. It’s also a good idea to make sure the camera is on the appropriate settings to let in adequate light and have the right amount of zoom.
7. Understand the risks involved and be smart.
Flying over a crowd of people is never a good idea. A sudden change in weather or rotor failure could cause the drone to fall out the sky and hurt someone. If friends want to watch the pilot in action, he needs to warn them that accidents can happen.
8. Know the flight control settings on the remote.
It’s inefficient for drone operators to just press buttons on their controller without knowing exactly what they’re for. Some drones come with beginner and expert modes.
It’s crucial that the pilot chooses the setting appropriate to his level of expertise. The expert mode may allow the pilot to do more tricks, but it may also make the steering much more responsive and rigid which will effect the video footage.
9. Invest in a gimbal and prop balancer.
Those new to aerial photography may have never heard of these two apparatuses before. Here’s what they’ll need to know.
A gimbal is a support that permits an object to pivot around its axis. The prop balancer will level out the propellers. It’s simple to understand how these two instruments could mean better quality video.
10. Tweak the remote.
This is one of the aerial photography tips that will go a long way.There’re few videos online that will demonstrate how to make some adjustments to the controller so that the controls will be less sensitive and reduce jerking. For anyone too scared to do it themselves, professionals are available to make the adjustments for them.
11. Know how much flight time the UAV can handle.
Just like any battery powered device, batteries weaken and cannot hold as much charge over time. A drone that used to be able to fly for thirty minutes may only be able to fly for fifteen a year after buying it if it is used often.
No one wants to see their drone crash because of a dead battery. It’s not a bad idea for anyone who likes to shoot longer videos to have some extra batteries on hand when they fly.
12. Be mindful of the weather.
Some people think that capturing video while it rains will make for some artistic footage. This is absurd. Rain can cause the drone and the camera to short circuit and/or crash.
The Wind is also an enemy of the drone pilot. UAV operators should be extra careful if taking the drone out on a beach, as the winds can be higher than forecasted.
Flying the drone in the direction of the sun is also a recipe for terrible footage. Flying directly into the sun will drown out the imagery and flying at a slightly angled direction to the sun can leave weird shadowing on the video caused by the propeller blades.
13. Keep an eye on the UAV.
This is one of the most important aerial photography tips on the list. It’s a good idea to fly in a straight line whenever possible. Pilots should try to avoid distraction and not lose sight of the drone. Flying outside the pilot’s field of view is illegal.
14. Master 4 videography pans.
The easiest to master is the bird’s eye view pan. The videographer should practice shooting a subject straight down from up high. The strafe shouldn’t take too long to perfect either.
The drone operator should work on letting the drone move in a straight line until his subject comes into view. Next, he should learn the fly-through. This takes skill.
No one should try this their first few times out. The pilot will need to maneuver their drone between two obstacles. It’s a good idea to use a first person view system to complete this pan.
Lastly is the orbit. The pilot will need to be consistent in their yaw and not vary it all. It will take extra equipment and a good camera to make this move look good.
15. Invest in a first person views system.
The first person view is a newer technology that is becoming popular with aerial videographers. It allows the pilot to see what his drone is capturing in real time. The display can be a smart device like a cell phone or iPad and even FPV goggles.
16. Plan ahead.
Pilots need to take a few minutes to survey the land around them. It’s best to look for possible obstacles like tall trees as well as kites and other remote-controlled aircraft.
Also, photographers want to think about exactly what it is that they want to capture on film. Random videos are okay but probably won’t turn out as good as a video that was well-planned.
17. Practice smooth handiwork.
This can take some time to master. In order to get the best videography, pilots must learn to go slow and not jerk the control stick.
Focusing on getting 3-7 second fluid shots is a great goal for new pilots to achieve. It’s practically impossible for professional pilots to get hours perfect footage, but it’s good to aim for greatness.
18. Record longer than necessary video clips.
A pilot should record a longer take than what he actually plans on using. He should shoot fluidly giving himself more than enough time of visual imagery. This way if he needs to edit, he has a larger margin of error.
Those who follow these professional photography tips will be amazed at how great their drone captured footage turns out!