How to Fly a Drone - 5 Tips to Better Drone Footage


Pierce Codina

Oct 25, 2022

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Learning how to fly a drone can be intimidating. Luckily, modern drones make flying easier than ever. Today we are gonna to look at some of our favorite tips and tricks that will help you level up your drone footage. These 5 things are not difficult by any means, in fact, they are simple things that you could do right now to improve your drone footage!

How to Fly A Drone

Tip #1: Shoot in the 30fps

I've only recently started shooting everything, even with my cinema cameras, in 30fps but I've been shooting 30fps on drones for years. The Mavic line has always suffered a stuttering effect when shooting in 24fps, and I've found that shooting in 30fps and then placing that on a 24p timeline prevents that from happening.
But now that I'm shooting everything in 30fps for mobile and web delivery, the footage just natively flows. Also, since 30 fps plays back better on mobile devices, the footage actually look like its a higher resolution, even though it's not.

Tip #2: Use ND Filters

Now assuming that you are following the 180 degree rule and shooting at 30 fps, you should be locking your shutter speed at 1/60. Most of DJI's drones, like this Air2s that I'm using, don't allow you to adjust your aperture, so thats also staying locked. And if you're shooting during the middle of the day, your ISO is probably going to be at its lowest point and you're still going to be way over exposed! This is where ND filters come into play.
Pretty much every drone out there has ND filters for it, whether thats from DJI themselves like these I got with my fly more kit, or from companies like PolarPro. Either way, ND filters are a must, especially when shooting video!
Use ND Filters

Tip #3: Use the built in drone moves

I've been flying drones for almost a decade at this point, so I've learned to do a lot of moves manually. But DJI's User Interface is just so darn good, when I bought the Air2s, I decided to see what the built in moves would look like. I was pretty surprised by the results
One of the benefits that the built in moves gives you is the ability to film yourself. The drone is the one doing all the work so you can interact with your scene, if thats what the video calls for. This will also allow you to do things like film yourself driving, or walking without having to do the moves yourself.
Unfortunately, this does come with a downside. Oftentimes, these moves wont allow you to have full control over your image settings. I assume this is because the drone is using its processing power to actually perform the move and that doesn't allow for full image control, or color depth

Tip #4: Utilize two or three way movement

My drone shots have one thing in common. There's always at least 2 movements happening at any time, and that is NOT just camera movement. For Instance, an establishing shot could be pushing forward and tilting up or down at the same time. But I could also be viewing from top down, with a slow rise, while my subject moves around.
Drone shots look the best when there is movement involved. A stationary drone shot, while in a new perspective, can be pretty boring. by adding movement, we are keeping our viewer visually engaged. Once you master two movements at the same time, you can try your hand at doing three movements at a time like a dolly forward, pan left, tilt down shot. Thank goodness I played all those video games as a kid!

Tip #5: Have a subject

The last tip I have for you today is to have a subject for your shots. now this might sound silly, but it's arguably the most important tip on this list. When you're setting up your drone shot, you want to make sure that there is a focal point for that shot. If you're shooting landscape, find a particular part of that landscape, like a mountain, and use that as your subject. If you're just shooting a general shot with no focal point, your viewer isn't going to know where to look.
Now obviously, if you have a subject, like a person or a car, this is much easier. but something else to keep in mind is when you're framing your subject, get close enough that we can see it but far enough back that we get to see the unique perspective. If we are too close, then we can't see the environment its in but if we are too far back, our subject gets lost. Drones offer us an incredible perspective so we might as well utilize it.
Mavic Mini Giveaway
While we are on the topic of drones, I wanted to let you all know that we are giving away a brand new DJI Mavic Mini Fly-More Kit, its still got the plastic wrap on it and everything. This drone would be great for a beginner or someone who is looking for a tiny drone to take on the go with them.
The Mavic Mini is perfect for that application. I'll put the link to the sign up down in the description down below. One of the requirements to win will be that you are subscribed to our Youtube Channel so might as well hit those like subscribe buttons on the way down!
Mavic Mini Drone
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