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Drone Riot: The Ultimate Guide to Drone Filmmaking

The following is a visitor put up by James Davis, passionate drone fanatic, filmmaker, and creator of the Drone Riot weblog. 

How to Make a Drone Film – The Ultimate Guide

There’s no denying the truth that drones are a superb software for a filmmaker to have of their arsenal. With drones now geared up with larger customary cameras, improved flight occasions and unbelievable clever flight modes, there’s by no means been a greater time to be an aerial filmmaker.

That being mentioned, capturing a top quality aerial movie isn’t so simple as hitting the file button, sending your drone up and flying round for a couple of minutes. Plenty of observe, planning and time is required to put collectively a stupendous, skilled customary movie.

If you’re in search of some inspiration, try this movie, which was the winner of the Landscape class within the DFF ANZ movie pageant.  The movie options some beautiful cinematography alongside some properly used particular results and completely executed drone photographs.

The Different Stages of Production

No matter whether or not you’re capturing a small impartial movie, or a high-budget Hollywood blockbuster, the method of making a movie may be damaged down into three distinct phases. I’ve listed these three phases under and can clarify what every one entails.

  • Pre-Production – This is basically the strategy planning stage, the place you get each facet of the movie prepared to shoot.
  • Production – This is the capturing stage of manufacturing, the place you’re out recording the footage in your movie.
  • Post-Production – The third and ultimate stage of manufacturing, the place you place the footage collectively, add the ending touches and get the movie prepared to be proven.


I’m going to be trustworthy, I’m not probably the most organized particular person on the planet. For me, the pre-production stage is the hardest, as I’m keen to get on the market and begin capturing some unbelievable stuff.

Unfortunately, the truth is that the pre-production section can both make of break your movie. Follow the steps that I point out under, and also you’ll have your self a pleasant and arranged shoot.

Decide on Your Film’s Story/ Message

It’s all the time a good suggestion to have some sort of story behind your movie. Whether the story is of a spot, occasion, or following a story is up to you.

Location Scouting

Find some locations that you just assume can be match in your movie. It’s finest should you can go there in particular person and take some images, which you can even do together with your drone. That method, you already know precisely what the situation appears to be like like and can be ready to create a extra tailor-made shot record.

If you’re unable to really make it to your location in particular person, you may all the time make the most of the helpful energy of Google Maps.  You can set the map to a ‘satellite’ view, which can present you an precise picture of the place and permit you to get to grips with the lay of the land.

Make A Shot List

It’s a good suggestion to plan out precisely what photographs you’re going to be recording on shoot day.

Of course, permit your self a while to scope out some new angles that you could be not have considered, nevertheless it’s finest to have a fairly strong thought of what you’re going to be filming.  By having a shot record you’ll know clearly what you’re going to be capturing, permitting you to go from shot to shot, with minimal time wasted.


Depending on the place you’re planning on flying your drone, you might want to get permission first. The last item you need to occur is to have to cease capturing and maybe be on the receiving finish of a fairly nasty nice.

Do You Have the Right Drone?

The high quality of footage you’re ready to file will rely closely on the standard of drone you have got. If you haven’t received a drone but, this consumers information will stroll you thru what you want to know. When trying to purchase a drone for aerial cinematography, be sure the drones’ digicam is connected by a gimbal stabilizer. This is extraordinarily necessary as it’ll hold the digicam regular while you’re within the air, which in flip will make your footage look extra steady and professional.


Tips for Shooting High Quality Aerial Footage

Utilize 2-Axis of Movement 

In excessive funds Hollywood motion pictures, you’ll discover that their aerial photographs have a tendency to incorporate 2-axis of motion. When capturing your aerial movie, try to mimic this system, which may be performed by tilting the digicam while the drone is shifting. This will create extra motion in your shot and look extraordinarily skilled.

Golden Hour – What is it & How Can You Use It?

The golden hour is the primary hour after dawn and the final hour earlier than solar set. During this time interval, the solar creates a naturally orange and crimson tint that appears nice when captured on movie.  By capturing on this time interval, you make your footage look extra aesthetically fascinating and interesting, with out having to do something completely different.

Shoot within the Right Weather Conditions

These days a drones have a tendency to include prime quality gimbal stabilizers that do an ideal job at protecting the digicam regular. That being mentioned, they’re not excellent. If the winds are too excessive the drone might get blown round, which may end up in your footage trying jolty and unprofessional.

This in flip cannot solely break your shot, however your complete day capturing. Just a few days earlier than you shoot, begin to control the climate circumstances. If you’ve received a sense that the circumstances aren’t going to be nice, then maybe postpone the shoot.

As properly as this, should you’re capturing on a grey and over forged day, that is going to affect the general really feel of your movie. Try and shoot when the circumstances are shiny, particularly should you’re focusing your movie on a selected location, as you need it to look as good as doable.

Have the Right Camera Settings

This might sound apparent, nevertheless it’s straightforward to take off and begin flying with out taking the time to regulate your digicam settings. Try and all the time shoot with the bottom ISO doable, as the upper it’s, the grainier your footage will look.  Similarly, should you’re wanting to shoot some gradual movement photographs, be sure to set your drones digicam to file at the next body charge. This one’s all the time straightforward to neglect, so have it included in your pre-flight guidelines.

Use the Rule of Thirds

 The rule of thirds is a generally used rule for each photographers and filmmakers. The fundamental thought behind the rule is to break the picture down into thirds.  You ought to find a way to set your show to ‘grid mode’ which can part your display into 9 elements, with two strains going vertically and two strains going horizontally.


You place the topic of your shot both on certainly one of these strains, or the place two of those strains intersect each other. The purpose behind this rule is that our eyes naturally fall onto these strains and intersections, so if the topic is positioned there, we discover it extra aesthetically interesting. For any extra info on the rule of thirds, you may learn this in-depth article.

Of course, you don’t all the time have to stick to this rule and in any case, guidelines are made to be damaged. Wes Anderson for instance, is legendary for breaking this rule, as a substitute opting to use symmetry over the rule of thirds.

5 Drone Shots to Master

Birds Eye

This one’s fairly self explanatory and is among the best photographs to pull off. Simply tilt your digicam all the way in which down, so it’s immediately pointing down in direction of the bottom. You then have quite a few choices when it comes to motion with a hen’s eyeshot.  You can both observe the topic if it’s shifting, hold the drone utterly nonetheless or you may enhance the altitude of the drone.

I personally like to have some type of motion within the shot, nevertheless it’s utterly up to you.


There are quite a few methods you are able to do a ‘reveal’ kind shot. You can fly your drone backwards over the topic of your shot till it comes into body.  Or, you may make the most of the motion of your drones’ gimbal to reveal the main focus of your shot. Either method, be sure what ever you’re revealing is fascinating and value a ‘reveal’ shot.

Flying Backwards 

This is a straightforward, but efficient shot that each one drone pilots ought to make the most of. It’s price mentioning that everytime you’re filming with a drone, try to all the time fly backwards. This is as a result of while you fly forwards, you may generally get the entrance propellers within the body, ruining the entire impact of the shot.

Similarly, it additionally helps to forestall prop shadows from being picked up by the digicam.


Most drones today include an array of clever flight modes, with some of the frequent modes being orbit/ focal point.  This is when your drone circles an object, while protecting that object within the middle of the body. I personally love this shot because it appears to be like extraordinarily cinematic and may be very straightforward to pull off, particularly should you’ve received some clever flight modes.

Tracking Shot

Whether you’re filming on a drone or utilizing a handheld digicam, monitoring photographs have lengthy been a go-to shot for filmmakers.

This is just the place you observe the topic of your shot, normally from behind. That being mentioned, you may experiment with completely different angles till you discover one you notably like.  If you need to observe your self with a drone, quite a few UAVs have a ‘follow me function’. I really like utilizing this because it means I get to be in a few of my photographs, which is fairly uncommon as I’m normally specializing in piloting the drone.

 Post Production

Editing Software

In order to put your spectacular drone footage collectively, you’re going to want some type of enhancing software program. I wouldn’t suggest utilizing free software program equivalent to Windows Movie Maker and that iMovie, as though they permit you to put one shot subsequent to one other, they’re fairly restricted.

I’ve listed under some examples of enhancing software program which are excellent for enhancing a drone movie. I personally am a large fan of Adobe Premier Pro and extremely suggest it. If you’ve ever used another Adobe software program like Photoshop or Illustrator, you’ll find a way to choose up Premier Pro very quickly in any respect.

  • Adobe Premier Pro – My enhancing software program of selection.
  • Final Cut Pro – Great for Apple Mac followers.
  • Sony Vegas – I’ve by no means personally used this, however I’ve heard from quite a few dependable sources that it’s excellent.
  • Avid Media Composer – Pretty a lot the business customary enhancing software program.

Color Correction

An effective way to take your footage to the subsequent stage is to use shade correction. This is when, utilizing your enhancing software program, you regulate the colours of your footage.  When doing this, try to keep an analogous coloring all through your movie, as it’ll look a bit unusual when the colours change dramatically from one shot to the subsequent.

 Music/ Sound Effects

Adding music and/or sound results to your movie is a should! Unfortunately, discovering the correct music generally is a fairly tedious course of, however belief me it’s price it. There are quite a few websites on the market, each free and paid, that provide music that you need to use in your movies. Just a few widespread selections are:

  • YouTube Audio Library
  • BenSound.com
  • Purple-Planet.com

All of the above talked about web sites provide royalty free music that you need to use in your drone movies.

Similar to music, sound results are one other method to add extra depth to your movie. For instance, should you’ve received a shot on a seaside, add some sound results of waves crashing, or maybe the sound of seagulls.  Although a small contact, this will have a serious impact on the general really feel of your movie.

Sharing Your Film

What’s the purpose of going to all that effort of constructing an incredible drone movie if nobody goes to see it?


YouTube is by far some of the widespread video sharing platforms and is a good place to showcase your new movie. You can all the time begin a YouTube channel and proceed to add your new drone movies and may even generate an earnings with YouTube’s Partner Scheme.


Vimeo is extra of knowledgeable customary video sharing web site and it’s the place most critical filmmakers go to add their work. Unfortunately, there’s a 500mb weekly add restrict until you pay for a yearly membership, which might be why most individuals flip to YouTube.

Film Festivals

Over the previous few years, we’ve seen quite a few drone particular movie festivals pop up across the globe. These are a good way to each showcase your work and evaluate your self towards among the finest on the planet. Just a few of the key movie festivals are:

  • New York City Drone Film Festival
  • Drone Film Festival Australia & New Zealand
  • London Drone Film Festival
  • Madrid Drone Film Festival
  • Flying Robot International Film Festival

What do Jury Members Look for?

A drone movie pageant will usually have a panel of jury members who’re tasked with judging every particular person movie and deciding on a winner for every class.  When judging, jury members will search for movies which are shot and edited to the best customary.  This consists of the framing of the photographs, the motion of the photographs and the general cinematic high quality of the movie.

Don’t fear massively concerning the high quality of your drones’ digicam, so long as it’s HD it will likely be nice. Personally, when judging a movie pageant, I search for how the drones’ digicam is used, slightly than the standard of digicam itself.

Round Up

Making an aerial movie together with your drone is an extremely rewarding and enjoyable expertise. Although it may be irritating at occasions, the top result’s all the time price it.  An incredible movie begins with an ideal plan, so be sure to’re as organized as doable together with your pre-production!

If you’ve received any questions, please be at liberty to remark under.


 James is a passionate drone fanatic who loves to spend his time making aerial movies and tinkering round with the most recent drone tech. As properly as this, James runs his private drone weblog – DroneRiot.com and was a jury member of the DFF ANZ Film Festival.

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