Filming with a drone, even without any professional knowledge, is a blast! However, if you want to do it better, there are certain steps you can take. In the hopes of helping you enhance your craft, we present to you a guide on how to shoot better travel videos with a drone!
Make a solid flight plan
Now, you can, of course, simply wing it as you travel. Spontaneous filming does have certain advantages. However, planning often outweighs them considerably. This is not merely because knowing about the beautiful scenery and the sights ahead of you lets you account for them and plan how best to approach them. Equally important is the chance it gives you to look into the rules and regulations of drone flight! Certain areas do not allow drone access at all. Be it because of the safety or privacy concerns that using a drone in it might cause. The Grand Canyon, for example, is one such area. And going into things blind can land you in some serious trouble.
Test out your audio recording abilities
You might be planning to include narration or just use the audio your drone is recording. For example, you might be visiting a carnival or similar and want to capture the essence of the experience. And that cannot be done without the sound included! However, you need to account for the fact that your drone will be flying. As such, the quality of audio, and the way it captures it, will be only marginally similar to what you might expect from a regular camera. So, do some tests! Check to see how the drone behaves and records audio higher in the air versus when you keep it relatively close to the ground. You will find that there are big differences between the two!
Plan for the time of day
The atmosphere conjured by the sunrise is entirely different from the one evoked by sunset or noon. You need to carefully consider what type of video you are looking to make. One that evokes feelings of excitement and adventure as you engage in a physically challenging ‘adventure course’, running along a suspension bridge and over obstacles? Or a romantic, panoramic viewing of the countryside as you stroll along with a hiking or walking trail? Depending on your intentions, you will find that some times of day serve you better than others. You will not, for example, want to be filming an action sequence in near-complete darkness that your audience would not even be able to follow properly.
The atmosphere set by the right lighting can make or break a video!
Do not only focus on aerial shots
Now, yes, spectacular aerial shots are the main draw of a drone-recorded video. There is nothing quite like taking in the scene from high up in the air. However, this does not mean you should never take your drone lower than ten meters off the ground! Sometimes, you can be very well served by letting your drone follow you around as you stroll. Taking a shot with the drone right next to you as you peruse local wares in a traditional open-air market, for example, will add a lot more flavor and draw than simply having it hover above.
If you plan on traveling with your drone and looking for exciting new scenery, make sure to know that your belongings back home are safe. You can rent out a storage unit and place your stuff there while you plan routes and scout out the best filming locations. This will guarantee your items’ safety while you are away, and you can focus on capturing that perfect shot.
Take advantage of the safety a drone provides
This should be prefaced by saying that you should not, under any circumstances, put yourself or others at risk. Learning how to safely operate a drone in urban areas is particularly important! Having said that, if you are not in an urban area, and drone flight is allowed in the location, then some risk is okay. With, again, the addendum that we are talking about risking the drone, not yourself. After all, the access and detachment recording with a drone offers is just too good not to take advantage of! You can take a closer look at perilous cliffs and into seemingly bottomless ravines of gaping black. The insides of caves are considered too dangerous for tourists to visit, and if you are reckless, you might suffer equipment damage. But if you are successful and careful, you will walk away with some stunning video footage!
Be mindful of the weather
This should really not come as a surprise. Even planes are not allowed to fly in certain weather conditions, and drones are a lot less durable. For example, there are a thousand and one potential disasters that can happen if you are taking a drone into a severe storm. So, when the weather outside is frightful, leave your drone behind and enjoy yourself.
Look into accessories and filters
Certain attachments, like ND Filters, can produce various effects to enhance your filming, such as subtle motion blur. If you are certain you want to invest in making your video even better, then they are a perfect choice. Of course, you should not forget to take into account certain essentials. Things such as extra batteries, lenses, and propellers will not make your videos better per se. However, they will ensure you can keep filming, even if an accident cracks your camera lens. Or one of your propellers getting damaged. You do not want to call your filming off simply because you did not have spares!
There are plenty of toys to add to your drone, and all of them are helpful!
Make use of the intelligent flight modes
Unless you want to consider hiring a professional drone pilot or are one yourself, you likely haven’t mastered drone flight. If you want the drone to cinematically follow you, for example, manual control might make its flight wobbly as you focus on sightseeing. Alternatively, the flight mode can be set to ‘Active Tracking’, allowing the drone to do the job for you. You can even set your drone to ‘orbit’ a certain point, allowing for some amazing shots.
You can even record ‘Waypoint’ for your drone to automatically follow along!
Summary of Advice
Really, the core of how to shoot better travel videos with a drone is to plan smartly and take full advantage of your resources. If you properly approach the planning phase of your endeavor, its quality will shoot through the roof! Just remember to, as always, take the proper safety precautions for the sake of both you and your drone.