Shoot Aerial Video Like a Pro – Mastering Drone Footage – PART 1

October 12th, 2015

Drones. An intriguing new technology for cinematographers! But how do you shoot aerial video with professional aesthetics on a low cost drone and how do you finish the footage? This was the question I asked myself and spent a week attempting to capture cinematic drone footage with a DJI Inspire 1.

I learned a lot in the process and decided to share some valuable tips from shoot to grade. Here are all 3 parts of my video tutorial series on mastering drone footage.

Related article: After the videos

Related article: Part II – Working with Drone Footage

Related article: Part III – Grade Low-Cost Aerial Video

Why another drone shooting tutorial?
Because 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. There are lots of technical tutorials out there, but none of them cover how to make aerial video look and feel truly cinematic. And this is exactly what raises the production value of your project and I think really the biggest plus drones offer.

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.

dji-inspire-1-aerial-video

DJI inspire 1 Drone with Zenmuse X3 Gimbal & 4K Camera

A few words on the Inspire 1 drone

As mentioned in the video the DJI Inspire 1 is really an impressive drone, very easy to use, very affordable and very powerful in terms of its ergonomics and the intelligent flight modes. I highly recommend using this drone if you consider going into aerial videography as it is now also upgradable with the new Zenmuse X5 and X5R cameras that produce much better quality. I think this is really the best value for money right now.

As you can see in my video, just using the built-in camera opens up a lot of stunning possibilities. If you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments.

And now fly safely and then let us know what you learned in the process. Best wishes from Seb at cinema5D.

Helpful Links:
inspirepilots.com
flysafe.dji.com

Music by musicbed.com
Salomon Ligthelm – Bones

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Member
May 2nd, 2016

Thank you Sebastian, I really needed to see something like that! Your videos are great, thanks again for letting us know how you did them! I fill terrible seeing my video shots with my dji phantom vision plus, even thought i flying real well.. Now I know why I can’t expect smth better.. dmmmm

Member
January 6th, 2016

I wish you could have elaborated more smoothing the camera panning. I find a lot of drone footage has these sharp start and stops of both panning and tilting. I’d love to know how you go about fixing this in post. Seems every video I see could use this tip.

Great video by the way. It has really inspired me to learn more about video editing. I’m a still photographer but have long been interested in video. Great job!

Member
October 28th, 2015

Nice video! I once has to face the same issues on a drone shot project last year.
This was the result: http://goo.gl/m1Whxz

Keep up the good work!

Member
October 28th, 2015

Very nice. I once has to face the cinemetaic issue with a drone shot project. This was the result: http://www.davidcerqueiro.com/Tu-dices-que-si-Official-Music-Video

Keep up the great videos!

Member
October 23rd, 2015

where to find to buy such sun and flare?

Member
October 22nd, 2015

I really love this series, Im about to buy a drone for myself as well. I do a lot of wedding work and starting with more and more commercial work (www.zoutwater.com). I actually planned on going for the phantom 3 pro, especially for the price and the new smart drone features (like way points). But now Im starting to doubt it a little, is the camera on the phantom really that much better (the x3, I get that the x5 is a lot better). I also like portability, isn’t the phantom a pain to travel with? Or is it ok.

Member
October 22nd, 2015
Reply to  Gerbert Floor

I ment: Isn’t the inspire a pain to travel with… :) and Is the camera on the inspire that much better :)

Member
October 22nd, 2015

what was the ultra wide angle lens that was used? Great film!

 Boris Jansch
Boris Jansch
Member
October 21st, 2015

also, you mentioned getting a licence, so can you recommend someone that does a suitable qualification in the UK?

Boris Jansch
Boris Jansch
Guest
October 21st, 2015

Amazing work Seb! I was really blown away with your images and it’s one of those films that I seek out on Vimeo for inspiration/to copy in my own work. Could you share your picture settings and whether you used any third party NDs.
Thanks,
Boris

 Boris Jansch
Boris Jansch
Member
October 21st, 2015
Reply to  Boris Jansch

sorry, saw your previous comment re the NDs

Silton Buendia
Member
October 19th, 2015

I’m curious if you used an ND filter I get insane shutter speeds sometimes in daylight. I have an ND but it colors and I had quality issues with the footage

Daniel Behnke
Guest
October 17th, 2015

Great tutorial!

Member
October 16th, 2015

Great film and very helpful since Im just about to start with drones. I’m still debating wether I should get the inspire 1 or the phantom 3 pro. The latter is much much cheaper, especially when you start out. Im very anxious to just crash the drone somewhere, and losing 3000 feels a lot worse then 1200 :P.

I know the upgrade option is very tempting on the inspire, but are there other advantages to that drone? (I hired some guys to fly with it and found it quite large and intimidating compared to the phantom series), I directed (and filmed a lot as well, not the drone stuff obviously) this movie with it: https://vimeo.com/130260768

Member
October 16th, 2015

great series, thanks a lot. I am wondering how fast can you run the rendering. Whenever I use a AE composition, the rendering in PP just took much longer to run. I found AE is using 10% of the CPU power. Is there a way to speed it up?

Antony Alvarez
Antony Alvarez
Guest
October 16th, 2015

What’s your in camera sharpening set at? I’m on LOG profile with -2 sharpness, but am not fully set on it yet.

Member
October 14th, 2015

Inspiring!

Member
October 14th, 2015

I’m sure you will cover it in part 3 but what program do you use for color grading?

Rutikanga Abdoul
Rutikanga Abdoul
Guest
October 13th, 2015

Part II an III Plse

Member
October 13th, 2015

Seb, this is fantastic. I might be getting my hands on a 3DR solo in a few months. If I do, can I please borrow some of your scenery? :)

Member
October 13th, 2015

Wow. That’s very unfortunate. The drone looks very interesting to me, but that marketing team seems rather short sighted.

Bo Lorentzen
Bo Lorentzen
Guest
October 19th, 2015

Sorry to hear about your 3DR experience, though I gotta say, they have gotten a bit snooty lately.
Don’t think the solo is quite as phenomenal as its cracked up to be, which probably also affect their review experiences.

Eric Bogan
Eric Bogan
Member
October 13th, 2015

Interesting test footage. A few of the shots are quite spectacular. As with most of the drone footage I have seen no one seems to know that they can hover. All of the footage seems to be flying over things. Crane type shots, starting low and raising up to reveal a spectacular scene would be great. As would hovering and letting action move through the frame. Also holding longer on points of interested would be more appealing to me. Also cutting in shots from a ground perspective (tripod, hand held, crane) would break it up and be more interesting to me.

Just my two cents and what I would (or hopefully will) do with a drone.

Eric Bogan
Eric Bogan
Member
October 13th, 2015

Thank you for the reply. My point was to use the same shooting concepts and methods you would shooting any other video. I don’t agree with ‘A hovering shot with no movement makes your shot “2 dimensional” emotionally’. No more so than a static tripod shot. Just to hover to hover I agree is flat but just to fly over things to me does not give me any emotional impact. I do not see a drone having any different requirements for subject or framing than any other tool used to shoot video. Of course these are all subjective. My comments were not necessarily aimed at you but rather a general comment on the drone footage I see all over the place. I get what you were going for. Again just my two cent worth.

John Myrstad
Guest
October 12th, 2015

Part 1? I want to binge it :-)

Member
October 12th, 2015

Very good Sebastian! I like the great footage and your approach to the subject…

Member
October 12th, 2015

Well done, Sebastian. Thank you!

Member
October 12th, 2015

really awesome sebastian!

Ergo Zjeci
Guest
October 12th, 2015

Niceeee

Ergo Zjeci
Guest
October 12th, 2015

Dont be lazy next time and move the car away from scene ;) anyways nice tutorial and perfect shoots rly nice!!!

cinema5D
Guest
October 13th, 2015
Reply to  Ergo Zjeci

I couldn’t move it because I was waiting for Volkswagen’s recall team :)

Member
October 14th, 2015
Reply to  cinema5D

I wonder which will be banned first, the civilian Drone or TDi? :-)

Member
October 12th, 2015

Are you sure you’re allowed to fly drones over private property and roads in Switzerland?

Member
October 12th, 2015

Interesting. It’s far more regulated in Scandinavia where I live – many of the shots you got would be illegal.

Member
October 12th, 2015
Reply to  Myles Thompson

Which is why I don’t have a drone…

 andy cooper
andy cooper
Member
October 11th, 2016
Reply to  Myles Thompson

Fear of what is stifling your creativity? There is no drone police. Even here in the States the FAA is a joke, they want you to register, etc but there is no system for checking a number or any enforcement of any of the laws. We have people on Youtube doing illegal stuff every day making millions and no one stops them.

You flying over a road for five seconds isn’t hurting anyone and no one will ever notice. There’s more danger of them getting hit by another car then a half pound drone landing on their roof.

You might reconsider limiting yourself in life for a bunch of “what ifs” that will never happen. Be responsible, but don’t hide in a cave.

Member
October 13th, 2015
Reply to  Myles Thompson

Where in Scandinavia? I don’t see many shots here that would be illegal in Sweden…

Member
October 12th, 2015

Very helpful, thanks

Mücahit Özcakir
Guest
October 12th, 2015

Wow. Thanks alot for this tutorial.

Ferdinand Wolf
Guest
October 12th, 2015

Great Job!

Member
October 12th, 2015

Really interesting series! Can’t wait for part 2! You guys rock!!

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