Drones will and are already revolutionising filmmaking, allowing filmmakers to achieve jaw dropping, cinematic results that have previously only been available to Hollywood productions!
I’ve been working with drones on and off for a few years now but at the end of last year I decided to take the leap and buy one of my own and I haven’t looked back! If you’re wanting to get high-production value shots for your next film project and you’re looking at using a drone here are my top ten tips on how to get that money shot safely:
1) If it’s your first time flying make sure you practice in a field far away from people, cars and houses. It’s all about muscle memory, fly on a daily basis for a few months in different locations before using it on set. Practice, practice, practice.
2) Depending on where you’re flying check the rules, do a quick Google. For example you’re not allowed to fly a drone in London unless you have a permit. But you can fly over the parliament buildings in Budapest no problem. As this is a new technology lots of countries are still catching up and don’t have any drone rules. Always use common sense when flying.
3) The best results are produced when flying the drone slowly with long nice fluid movements. Get close to an object and slowly rise above it to reveal the amazing vistas in front of you.
4) Never fly above crowds, it’s illegal and very dangerous.
5) Make sure you don’t fly above 400 feet (122 metres) or near airports. The last thing you want to be doing is crashing into a plane.
6) The drone really shines when you can get shots that aren’t possible with a helicopter. For example when I was shooting in Scotland I got a shot from the drone flying through a castle window and it looks amazing. Be creative and try and get shots that nobody has seen before.
7) Experiment with the settings on your camera that you’ve attached to the drone and see what results it produces. The more you can understand about this technology the better equipped you’ll be as every shoot is different and may require a different look. For example if you film at 30 frames per second and then slow it down and convert it to 25 or 24 frames per second in post and the footage will have an almost dream like feel to it.
8) Plan each shot before you take off. Each battery on a drone lasts about 15 minutes so you want to maximise flight time. Like any shoot the more you plan the better the results will be (keep spare batteries to hand too).
9) This is an obvious one but always check the weather conditions before flying the drone. Drones are pretty good in wind but if it’s super windy or raining and you don’t feel comfortable flying the drone wait till the wind has calmed down or the rain has stopped. It can be unsafe to fly in high winds and more than likely the footage will be unusable.
10) If you want to produce something amazing it’s got to start with a great idea. Always put the shots and story before the tools. Audiences want to see people, stories and experiences that they connect with on an emotional level. As filmmakers we create content that entertains, moves and inspires people. Drone technology won’t turn you into a great filmmaker but it will enhance your skills as a story teller and if used well will make your work shine.
Watch this cool drone tutorial: