Drone video – what I learnt and am still learning – 6 tips

I just recently bought a drone, a Dji Mavic Pro and am still very much learning to use it and shoot great video with it.

Here is my first decent result (at least I think so):

And here is my list of what I learnt from my first couple of flights and what I need to watch out for:

1. The Mavic is great!

It’s easy to fly, small enough to take up a mountain while still carrying other gear.

One issue I had with the Mavic is that the video connection to my phone gets dropped often. The drone continues flying and recording, but I can’t see the video on the phone, which is pretty scary at the start and annoying all the time. From what I gathered on the interwebs is that it might be a cable issue (from the remote to the phone) or various interferences. Switching to airplane mode on the phone helped me, but as that wasn’t at the same location as my flight which had dropped the video link, it might have been pure luck.

2. Flying all over the place is fun but doesn’t make for a good video

For a good video, you need to be pretty slow and very deliberate with your controls. What I’m trying to do is get the drone in the air and look around for nice “points of interest”, then start recording and move to or from or around that point of interest then stop recording. One clip in the bag. 

3. Use a foreground element to give some scale and movement

The mountains in the background are great but even flying straight at them for an hour you won’t see much difference in how they look. Use foreground elements to introduce the scenery.

4. ND filters

I have ordered some ND filters (PolarPro) for my drone but hadn’t yet received them for the video above. For smooth video, you want to keep your shutter speed low, and this is almost impossible in sunny conditions. The best way to get the shutter speed down is ND filters.

5. Settings, so many settings

The settings I’m using at the moment and which I’m quite happy with are:

  • Picture profile: D-Log
    Only use D-Log if you have and want to spend the time colour grading your footage later.
  • Sharpening: +1
  • Contrast: -1
  • Saturation: -1

6. Walking while flying and filming with the drone takes some practice

Even on relatively level mountain paths walking while controlling the drone and trying to shoot something interesting will need some practice for me as I almost fell over a couple of times while filming the video above. (I’m the guy with the green shirt).

 

Don’t hesitate to let me know if I forgot something on my list of tips and share this post if you liked it.

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