Grade Low-Cost Aerial Video – Mastering Drone Footage – PART 3

October 16th, 2015 Jump to Comment Section 17

Drones give us stunning new perspectives for our films, but the video look they produce is often quite unsexy. So how do you grade and perfect aerial video from a low cost drone camera to make the low-bitrate footage look awesome? This was the question I asked myself when I finished my footage from the DJI Inspire 1

I spent a week filming with an entry level drone to create a stunning drone film. After many hours figuring out how to make the best of the footage I had, I created this 3-part video tutorial on mastering drone footage.

In PART I I talked about How to Shoot Aerial Video Like a Pro. In PART II I talked about Improving Aerial Video in Post.

Here is PART III, where I’ll show you how I graded and perfected the film with compositing.

Part I – Shoot Aerial Video Like a Pro

Part II – Improve Aerial Video in Post

These are the tips I would have needed when I started shooting. I wanted to get the best out of my drone footage and I didn’t find this knowledge elsewhere.

As discussed in the tutorials, the footage from low-cost drones come with a lot of drawbacks, very highly compressed codecs and low bitrates that make grading very difficult. In my tutorial I’m showing you how to make aerial video look and feel cinematic, how to raise the production value of your project with a few simple steps from shooting to final grading and compositing.

I hope you’ll enjoy these tutorials and they’ll help you get started. All 3 parts of the video series have some essential points I think anyone serious about aerial video can take something away from.

Equipment used

In part I and part II talked about why the DJI Inspire 1 for me is the best value for money low cost drone right now with the upgrade options to the new Zenmuse X5 and X5R cameras for better quality.

The video above was shot without the upgrades on the normal DJI Inspire 1.

I recommend this package:

I do not recommend the hardcase version unless you use this for rental or a large production. The shell-case is perfect, lightweight and roomy and can hold both remotes and 9 batteries! (I got this wrong in my video, there are hidden compartments).

I did not have the high capacity batteries as mentioned above. It must be awesome to have those though. How many should you get? It really depends on how much you’ll shoot in a day.

I did not have the 4-battery charging station. It must be awesome to have it. It will charge one battery at a time overnight. If charging times are the same as the single chargers then it will probably take about 6 hours to charge 4 batteries.

Remember, practice is part of the package. Fly safely, edit tirelessly and grade meticulously. Then let us know what you learned in the process.

If you are interested in my LUT you can download it here.

Helpful Links:
Understanding Lumetri Color in Premiere Pro
After Effects Motion Tracking Tutorial

Music by
Salomon Ligthelm – Bones


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