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10 Tips to Improve Your Drone Footage

Written by Rudy Dewaitne

There is a difference between flying your drone for fun and using it to shoot great APV (Aerial Photography and Video).

Shooting good footage takes a lot of practice. Here are some tips you can use to improve your overall experience:

  1. Make a list, check it twice

Always check your equipment before any flight with a drone.

Just like pilots always go over their plane before takeoff, so should you have a pre-flight checklist you use religiously before every flight.

After all, the last thing you need is to crash your drone or lose it! Here are some easy things to check out before your fly:

  • Battery capacity
  • Loose parts
  • Tightness of propellers
  • Landing gear
  • Camera
  • Surroundings clear
  • Calibration of controller

These are some of the most basic checks to do.

Take your time and make your own checklist with more items. The more careful you are, the better things will be during flight!

  1. Keep your shots smooth and long

When you take your first shot using the drone, keep the positioning time maximized.

Try not to let the drone move at all.

Quadcopter drone with a camera attached

If you’re a pro, you can probably work with the sway and changes in speed. For the amateur, it is better to remain at a constant speed in a good relative position.

If you’re accelerating or slowing down, do so very slowly.

  1. Make your shots last longer than you need them to be

The most annoying thing for a drone flier is coming back to the editing table, loading up the footage recorded and finding out that there can’t be any fine-tuning of the end of the flight footage.

This is because most amateurs make the mistake of cutting the video off at the point they think is the end of the required footage.

As a rule of thumb, try to keep your footage ten seconds longer than is actually necessary. You gain the ability to edit the end of your video in peace.

  1. Use filters from PolarPro on your lens

Whether you use a GoPro or the stock camera, a PP filter will not go amiss.

Even if you are shooting in low light, these filters allow for gorgeous visuals to be recorded.

Drone next to polar pro filters

You can use them to create the blur effect common in cinematic shots as well as removing sunlight’s effect on shots and changing the contrast.

You can also reduce the impact of overexposing the lens when shooting a target that is moving at speed.

  1. Use a gimbal for your camera

A gimbal is a mount that allows you to stabilize your shots even when there is wind rocking the body of the drone.

Drone filming with a camera attached to a gimbal

Best drone gimbals offer 3-axis stabilization, which reduces the “Jell-O” effect of a rocking drone significantly and allows for sharper, smoother, more stable shots across the board.

  1. Plan everything out beforehand

This is a very important part of your recording experience.

Before you take to the skies, think about the objectives of the flight.

Build a scenario in your head and plan out all the positioning, flight paths and movements you make.

Use pencil and paper if you want to. After you have planned it out, take your drone out and practice the movements, so you get them down pat.

When you have mastered your flight path, you can aim for more gorgeous shots that show a practiced hand behind them.

  1. Start out slow

Slow flight is the best to increase footage quality.

Explore the area and let your viewers do the same through your footage.

The slower the flight, the more controlled the recorded video appears.

  1. Don’t rush into it

When shooting, try to build the tension up.

Don’t aim straight for your main target during shooting. Let the viewer see the surroundings first, then gradually reveal the main subject of the shot.

  1. Take advantage of the golden hour

This is the hour called twilight by some and dawn by others. It is the hour right before sunset and right after sunrise.

Drone shooting a video at sunset

The blend of colors in the sky is truly majestic to behold at this time.

  1. Mess with your settings!

Play around with the settings on your GoPro or stock camera to find the best ratios and settings for your goals.

Use different angles, contrast settings and exposures to get the best possible footage!