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Reveal The Scenery - Drone Film Tips

Reveal The Scenery

Reveals are an easy way to change up your film and make it more interesting. By nature, reveals make the viewer wait in anticipation before stunning them with the final scenery. Keeping the user engaged is paramount when it comes to filming, and using reveals is a great way to do this. I typically use 4 types of reveals: Bottom To Top, HelixFrom Behind and From The Top. These will vary in difficulty, starting with the easiest first. I’d love to see some examples of your reveals in action, tag me @SkylineAperture on Facebook/Instagram or go old school and email me!

Bottom To Top

This is the reveal I use most often, and it's probably the easiest one. Bottom To Top requires flying low for about 15 seconds or so, typically at a solid pace. After you've filmed about 15 seconds, increase the height of the drone while maintaining that forward movement revealing the scenery. If you stop moving forward and only increase the height, it's going to have a more amateur feel to the footage. The continuous movement allows the footage to not be disrupted, allowing the user to focus on the scenery and not the disruptive flight.


As far as the automation of this flight mode goes, it's specific to DJI drones. With that said, it's not impossible to do this one with manual flight, but it will be much harder. Helix is a QuickShot flight mode on most DJI drones. With Helix, the drone starts close to the subject and starts to fly in a rising spiral, all the while keeping the camera pointed at the subject (think reverse tornado). As the drone rises and circles, more of the scenery around the subject is revealed, creating a fun way to show off the scene. Helix needs a pretty specific scene laid out for it to be worth using, but it definitely creates a unique perspective and reveal. I've found that Helix reveals are best done when wanting to reveal how high up you are. For instance, when I hiked to the top of a large mesa, I used Helix to reveal the dramatic heights around me while I stood at the edge.

From Behind

This reveal is one of the easier one's, making it perfect for learning, but it does require a more specific scene. From Behind requires that your drone have something to hide behind, like a hill, a building, vehicle, etc. Fly your drone from the side or straight at the object with the camera looking right at the object. Focus on filming the object your drone is hiding behind while you move, until you're no longer behind that object and can finally reveal the scenery around it. If you are flying straight at the object, slightly increase your height as the drone approaches the object to fly over it, revealing the scene beyond.

From The Top

This one is probably the most tricky of the reveals. From the Top will require flying low or over your subject with the gimbal facing down. While flying you'll need to bring the gimbal up to be back in it's normal leveled position. The movement on the gimbal needs to be as smooth as possible in order to create that crisp look and avoid any disturbance in the clip. If the gimbal moves too much or at varying speeds, it will disrupt the video and bring the viewer's attention to the disruption. Practice will make perfect on this reveal. Luckily, this one doesn't require any specific scenery or setup so it can be practiced nearly anywhere. As you can see in my example video, my gimbal movements weren't perfectly smooth which causes the video to have some instability.

Which Reveal Should I Use?

Unfortunately, there's no straight ``go to`` reveal. You need to look at your scene and think about which reveal will be the most interesting. I typically do two takes of one reveal before doing another two takes of a different type. This ensures I get 4 good chances for a neat scene. It's best to play around with different reveals on the same scenery. Sometimes the reveal you wouldn't think looks good, ends up coming out the best. Practice makes perfect. Bottom To Top will require a little bit more room to practice but a soccer field or big parking lot works perfectly. From Behind doesn’t require much practice or room which makes it an easy to one to try on a real shoot. From the Top doesn't require much room, but will require quite a bit of practice before you'll be able to nail the smooth gimbal movements. Helix requires a larger area around you, but again, a soccer field would be ideal. Helix is the most ``hands-off`` if you're flying a DJI drone. Simply set the distance, outline the subject and press start.

I hope you enjoyed the read and learned a new way to shoot some neat perspectives. I’d love to see how you use some of these reveals in your next clip! Tag me @SkylineAperture on Instagram or send me an email. Have fun and safe flying!

Hey! My name is Mike Miller. I'm a drone enthusiast, self-proclaimed adventurer and web developer. Recently, I moved from the Tampa Bay area of Florida to the beautiful state of Colorado. I love to share what I am filming, learning, or have learned with fellow drone pilots. Follow the adventures @SkylineAperture on instagram. If you ever have any questions or want to say hello, send me a message! Have fun and fly safe!

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