Quick Tips To Better Videos
Ever seen someone else’s video and wondered how they’ve got it to look so professional, smooth and overall just better than yours? Trust me, I know the feeling! Here’s some quick tips for you to improve your videos during and after your flight. Got a great tip to add to this list? I’d love to hear it!
When filming in the air, any little movement with the camera is very noticeable. Which means, you should focus on keeping the camera still while keeping the same gimbal tilt. Fly your drone in straight lines, only adding in slight curves where needed. Don’t try to adjust the gimbal mid flight or spin until you have practiced this plenty of times. You won’t want your shot being completely ruined because you thought it’d be cool to tilt the gimbal and grab a different angle. It’s much easier to go back and do a second pass with the new angle than trying to do two shots in one. Save all your re-positioning for separate passes. Keep your flight path simple and slow to ensure you don’t have unnecessary movements and shaking of the camera. Slowing down your movements will help reduce how drastic these movements appear in the video. It’s a simple tip, but probably the most ignored among drone pilots.
Plenty of times in the past, I’ve cut the video short assuming that I have already grabbed plenty of footage for the particular sequence, only to find out later that I needed another 5-10 seconds. A good rule of thumb is to fly 15 seconds longer than you thought you needed. It’s very easy to trim the video in post production and saves you from having an awkward clip. Keep the camera rolling and get creative with multiple passes and angles. You can always throw away a clip, but can’t always go back and capture the scene again.
One style of shooting that adds a lot of value to a film is a reveal. Lets say you plan on filming a nice aerial shot over a lake. Instead of whirling around at 300 feet, try flying several feet over the water for about 20 seconds and then gradually raising the height while traveling forward to “reveal” the lake. It’s a neat trick that can be used in almost any type of video. Another way to do a reveal is to come from behind an object or around an object to reveal the scenery. This can be done by flying at an object, like a boulder, for a few seconds before going just over the top of it and revealing the scene beyond the object.
This is one that I have to constantly remind myself of. If you’ve bought a drone with automated features, like active tracking, follow me, or tripod modes, USE THEM! Don’t risk getting bad footage because you’ve attempted to manually fly in a perfect circle around an object rather than active tracking it. The automated features in drones now a days are fantastic, but under-utilized in most amateur footage. Check out which features your drone has and start practicing them. Following a vehicle, or person can create some great B-roll footage for your next video.
Getting the proper settings before your flight is crucial to getting great video. Finding the correct settings for the current weather and light conditions will take some practice, but will help your video to not be over or underexposed. Make sure you play with the White Balance, Shutter Speeds, ISO, and any Filters that may have come with your system before recording your scene. You will most likely need to put the drone up into position to get a good feel for the lighting to adjust your settings. Take your time ensuring your video is going to look it’s best before ever touching the record button. In the beginning, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with leaving your settings on “auto” but as you get more comfortable flying, it would be more beneficial to customize your settings for each flight. Unfortunately, there are no “standard settings” that can be applied in every situation, so you’ll need to practice on your own and play around quite a bit.
Filters & Post-Production Packages
A lot of great videos out there are using ND Filters while filming, and adding lots of editing work after filming (post-production). I strongly suggest getting a set of Neutral Density Filters. If you plan on filming anything on a sunny day, you’re going to want ND filters to help with overexposed shots, glare and contrast. ND Filters simply click on over the camera itself and filter all the light for you. ND Filters are a life saver in the sun and add a lot of value to your footage. I personally use the Polar Pro Cinema 3 Pack and love them. Along with ND Filters, there are post production packages or LUTs that are built by professionals and can be applied directly to your footage. I would recommend checking out some video editing tutorials on YouTube or picking up a LUTs package to test out for yourself. If you have the time to manually edit the whole video yourself, go for it! Otherwise, do yourself a huge favor and pick out a great LUTs package to give you sharper colors, contrast and a cleaner feel to the video. I personally use the packages from Spectrum Grades. They’re easy to use and come packaged for my Mavic and it’s settings.
Have Fun & Practice
The last tip is to have fun and practice! Get outside and keep attempting new flights, angles and videos. You can only get better with practice, so do it! Also, don’t be discouraged by seeing someone else’s video clip; instead be inspired to get back up in the air. I absolutely love seeing new video clips and photographs, whether it’s from a beginner or a professional. Have you filmed something cool recently? Let me know! I’d love to see your clips and help you out with any questions you may have.