How to make interesting and professional films and photos by a drone?

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As drone operators we have made some video and photo realisations, many hours spent on flying drones and certain experience, which we want to share with you on our blog. Below we put 8 practical guides to help you, especially if you are a beginner, with making interesting and professional films and photos by drone.

1. Always check the weather forecast

Checking weather forecasts before the flight makes sense only in the context of flight security (no strong winds, precipitations or excessive sun activity), but also because of good conditions for filming. Photos and films made by drone similar like in traditional photography will gain on quality if we make them with appropriate lighting – thanks to that they will be sharper, and in case of photography it will be shorter time of opening of the shutter. If you meet with a customer on a certain date and you are not able to postpone it, try to choose the best time of the day. Usually it will be in the morning or in the afternoon – when the sun isn’t at its highest point, the light falls at a lower angle. In the evenings the light has nice yellow colour, perfect for filming or photographing. In the extra strong light it is easy to „burn” the shoot, so to avoid it you should be aware of  exposure times or adjust the camera properly.

2. Think about shooting in site in advance

Before starting the drone, it is good to familiarize yourself with the place, in which we will film or take photos. If it’s an open area and we have the opportunity to flown in from every direction, then the situation is very simple. In  fact, however, you rarely have so much space. Just for safety, you should primarily look for natural obstacles (high buildings, trees, pole, etc.), because they will stop you from flying in. Next point is just aesthetical – you should consider from which direction the sun is shining and the risk of “burning” the photo appears, from which point of view the recorded target will look the best, which direction you should flown-in from to show the benefits of surroundings, etc. All these things matters, that’s why thinking about shooting before executing it, e.g. based on Google Maps, will save your time and battery on the place.

3. Try shooting from various angles and heights

When you are afloat – the view of looking at the surroundings changes. Even though you planned your fly in and shot, if you look from the rise, you will see possibilities to shoot interesting materials, which you couldn’t foresee while planning whole operation. That’s why you should try shooting from various angles and heights, and then you can choose the best options. After a certain time every operator gains some experience and from that knows at what height certain targets looks the best, if it’s worth filming under the light or the sun is behind – then you don’t have to make many doubles so materials could be ready for further processing.

4. Make a use out of FPV

Currently, seeing the view from the camera in the real time is something obvious while processing professional aerial filming. FPV (First Person View) makes it possible to see exactly what the drone is filming on screen, googles or mobile devices. It allows you to frame shots and also to see current flight data (e.g. height, speed – it is also useful while shooting). In applications that support DJI drones (i.e. our  DJI Inspire One drone) there is an option to change settings as to select the best filming parameters to current conditions. It definitely makes the work easier and faster.

5. Testify different options of your camera

You can make a lot of things with your materials in postproduction phase, but some things you cannot change or improve even if you use the best film processing software. Thus you should testify various of recording  modes, e.g. Full HD, 2.7K or 4K, related to resolution, frame rate (depending on the specified resolution), how long the aperture is open, etc. For example in most of cameras you can set a high frame rate (e.g. 120fps), but this is to the detriment of the resolution. However, films with such frame rates you can considerably slow down while editing and don’t lose fluidity of moves. On the other hand, the advantage of high definition film is possibility to crop and zoom while processing, and e.g. Full HD films still looks great.

6. GPS and Atti/AltHold is more stabile

Even though most drones can fly with manual mode without using GPS system or barometer for stability, the use of these two “succours” allows you to film more smooth and stable shot. The GPS system is almost essential while taking pictures with extended time of lighting, when the drone needs to suspend in the air kept in one position for a fraction of or even a whole seconds.

7. Smoothly maneuver the remote control

Even the most stabile 3-axis gimbal can’t help if the flight isn’t smooth. Obviously, the experience in “smooth” drone control acquires in time and a lot depends on getting used to a specific type of drone. Nevertheless, appropriate smooth control of drone flight and turnover of camera is a guarantee of good professional shots. It is worth to mention that shooting becomes easier and more precise if you use two remote controls, and what it means – two operators. One of them controls the drone and decides about whole flight, while the other one controls the camera, what allows him to focus strictly on filming targets and making more detailed shoots. With our DJI Inspire One drone we have such control.

8. Check the airspace your flying in!

Being a „professional” in aerial photography or filmmaking is not only an ability to use the equipment, but also a professional attitude towards legal issues. Polish airspace is divided into various zones. In most of them – especially in places like big cities, mountains, national parks – to fly with drone you need a special permission from certain services or managers of areas, above which we are flying. What is more, for commercial exploitation of pilotless vehicle, a certificate of UAVO qualifications is required. Thus, if you want to provide services with drone, you must respect the aviation law and any other regulations applicable.

 

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