Drones are rapidly becoming one of the most popular hobbies, and with it the growth in drone videography has grown as well. Drone videography is the act of filming video or taking still images from a drone. Many drones come built in with cameras, or have the ability to mount a camera onto it. Even more, some drones come with additional capabilities such as intelligently taking selfies, following a set distance from the controller, and more! Drone videography use has really skyrocketed recently, and is used by everyone from hobby fliers up to Hollywood movies!
Guide To Drone Filming
Getting started with drone videography can be tricky, there’s a lot to learn and figure out. We put together a handy checklist to help get you out the door and flying in no time.
1. Using The Proper Equipment
Starting with the right drone and equipment is important. There are a lot of drones out there, but not all are good for filming. For beginners, it’s important to pick a drone that was made for both filming, as well as ease of flying.
Also keep in mind additional features like First Person View (FPV). These types of features aren’t available on all drones, and if it’s something you’re interested in you’ll need to select a drone that supports it.
We recommend the Altair Aerial 818 Hornet as a great beginner photography drone. This drone couples ease of flight along with a high quality camera and additional filming features. It makes a great starter drone for hobby fliers and filmers.
2. Be Familiar With Local and Federal Laws
Before you start flying, make sure to read up on any local or federal laws. While most small hobby drones are fine, many larger ones actually need to be registered with the FCC. There are also restrictions on where drones can flown. For example, flying in close proximity to an airport is typically prohibited. Make sure to read up on any of these restrictions so you don’t end up with a nasty surprise later on.
3. Get Good at Piloting Before Your Try Videography
Start slow and learn to fly your drone proficiently before you jump into videography. It’s more difficult to keep your drone steady and get a good shot, so it’s important to be able to effectively fly the drone first. Then, once you’ve mastered the basics, add on the extra difficulty of filming at the same time.
4. Make Sure Your Drone and Camera Are Properly Configured
Before flying, always check to make sure everything is configured properly. There’s nothing worse than getting your drone into the air and having something not work right. This also includes settings like sensitivity and other preferences you might have with your control scheme.
5. Use a Pre-Flight Checklist
Having a quick checklist to run through before you start flying helps ensure that everything is setup and ready to go. It doesn’t have to be super involved, but just a quick pre-flight check to make sure everything is good to go.
6. Watch Your Battery
A common mistake beginners make is to not watch their battery. Many models of drones only have batteries that last for 7-15 minutes, and it’s very easy to go over that. While some drones land automatically when the battery gets too low, many won’t and not paying attention to the current level is a good way to send your drone crashing down to earth.
7. Land Carefully
Landing is one of the more difficult parts of flying a drone, and can be especially tricky for beginners. It can take a lot of practice to get right, but it’s an important part of drone flying. Luckily, many drone models come with assisted landing that can handle the hard work for you with only the click of a button.
8. Use Post Production and Editing
Once the video is filmed take it to the next level with post editing. There are a large variety of both paid and free software that can help you edit and add effects to your drone videos. This could include things like transitions, additional animations, or text overlays, among other things. Some drones even come with their own software that can help you edit them as well.
Videoing Tips and Techniques
Once you’ve got some experience under your belt you can start implementing some more advanced filming techniques. These can help improve your videography skills, and let you film more interesting and well put together videos.
1. Master The Pan
Pans are different ways of controlling your drones to create different ways to film a subject. An easy pan is thes birds-eye, which is when you position your drone above the subject.
There’s also pans like slide-side where you film at a steady altitude while the subject passes by and Fly-Through which has you pilot your drone through a gap or tight area.
2. Try To Film at The Level Of Your Subject Not Above It
Getting a good angle is essential to filming good videos. In general, you’ll want to film at the level of your subject to get the best effect. This helps keep your subject in focus, and gets you a better shot overall.
3. Fly Through The Shot
In general, try to have some space at both the beginning and end of a desited shot. You should plan to start flying a bit before and after your intended shot. This gives more room to make edits and creates a better end product.
4. Fly Slowly and Carefully
Slow, careful, and deliberate movements make the best videos. Movements that are too fast and jerky are hard to watch, and create a less desirable end product. Making minor adjustments as you fly helps create a smooth and enjoyable video.
5. Bring Extra Batteries
Getting That perfect shot can take time, so always bring extra batteries. Nothing is worse than having to wait for your batteries to charge and that can really derail a shooting session.
Best Hobbyist Videographer Drones
For those new to the hobby, buying a video drone is a great way to add some fun to the flying. It’s important though to understand what makes a good filming drone, and the specs that will make it easier to learn. In general, a hobby flyer doesn’t need a super HD camera or all the extra features. Nor do they need to pay the extra cost to get all these extra features. The following drones are hand-picked for beginners, even those completely new to the hobby looking for a good videography drone.