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An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) or drone can add more dimension to the content you create. Drone footage gets a lot of views on platforms like YouTube and Vimeo, and if you’re trying to achieve cinematic videography, you can get your creative gears running with them.
There are various angles you can try out and so much depth worth exploring once you add a drone to your film repertoire. We’ll tell you about some of the best tips and tricks to nailing those cinematic shots, a bit about post-processing, and what to watch out for. Let’s get started.
Go Slow and Steady
Suppose you’ve got ace piloting skills, great! But if you’re like the rest of us and just getting started with your drone, we recommend going slow. Slow and steady movements give a cinematic vibe to your shots. You can change the speed of your footage using a free no watermark video editor when you’re adding effects and post-processing to it later. But when you’re capturing landscapes, you want ideally slow front and backward movements.
Side movements aren’t very common with drone videography and give an interesting perspective. These are called strafing shots and really stand out.
Consider The Time Of Day And Weather
It’s obvious that we use drones to film outdoors, but we should consider the weather. Sunrise and sunset timings are the best since the lighting pops out, and the shadows are detailed. The location where you’re filming should be taken into consideration along with the temperatures.
If you’re filming in high altitudes where it snows in early mornings, your drone could freeze up from condensation, and the lens view could be blocked out by the fog. Be wary of this and plan the timing of the day when you’re going to be filming.
Add An Intro
Every film should begin with an intro, we believe. Cinematic videos open up with text or title sequences and compelling soundtracks. If you’re new to making intros and need help, we suggest investing in the best promo video maker.
But if you’re an experienced video editor or filmmaker, you are already aware of how to make intros. If you’re strapped for time, you can use intro maker presets or templates to speed up your video production. Most filmmakers use industry-standard software like After Effects, but there are many budget video editing software options available online out there. Explore them and see what works for you.
Try The Point Of Interest Shot And Low-To-High Tilt
Look at your drone’s flight settings. Chances are, there’s a POI mode available. This is called Point of Interest, and the way the shot works is it gets a clear view of your subject and slowly circles it to keep it in the frame’s view.
The low-to-high tilt shot is another cinematic technique where you fly the drone close to the ground with the camera facing down (about 1 foot above the ground). You reveal the landscape by flying it up and tilting the lens upwards while you do that. This shot is great for creating reveals or any cinematic drone openings with a lot of impacts.
Avoid Flying On Windy Days
Windy days can create distortions in your drone footage or the dreaded ‘jello effect.’ You can use warp stabilization settings in software like After Effects to fix it to a certain degree, but they’ll still be noticeable. A good rule of thumb is to avoid filming on days when the wind speed is more than 20mph. Although drones have been rated to be able to operate at wind speeds of 25 mph to 30 mph, the drop in recording quality on those days isn’t worth it.
To fix shaky footage when you’re filming, you will have to use the Warp Stabilizer effect in After effects when doing post-production. Another way is to use a gimbal with your drone, but a bit of shakiness is inevitable when you’re filming at higher speeds, so you’ll have to do a few edits.
Colour Grade Your Footage
Some tools we recommend to color grade your footage are the Colorista plugin in After Effects and Da Vinci Resolve. You can use the Magic Bullet suite for After Effects to get color grading templates that are easy to use. Since you’re aiming for a cinematic look, you can start by trying some templates available on the internet and playing with the settings.
Add Quality Music And Edit The Audio
Sound is so important when it comes to videography, drone, or not. Most drones don’t record audio, and one way to add sound is to include music tracks. You can use royalty-free music files or audio that comes with a Creative Commons License. These will prevent any copyright strikes or legal issues.
If you’re looking for sound effects like wind chiming, bass notes, burning wood, nature elements, cafe, and city audio effects, you can find many options on the internet. Take your time to explore.
Adjust Your Shutter Speed
When you’re filming close to the ground, you want to lower your shutter speed to the 100th of a frame. The highest we recommend going up to is the 250th of a frame. Anything beyond that will give you a strobing effect.
If you have no choice but to film at a high shutter speed due to the terrain or weather conditions, add motion blur to your footage to smooth the strobing out in the preferred video production suite of your choice. Use the flattest image profile when you’re filming since this will give a dynamic aerial range for your shots.
We also recommend shooting in 4K resolution since it gives more pixel density to your footage. More pixel density translates to more detail and clarity in your shots.
This covers the basics of achieving cinematic shots with your drone. There’s plenty more to cover, but this will get you started. If you’re looking for free drone footage to use for your cinematic shots, you can explore spaces on the internet like the InVideo video library.
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