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  • Writer's pictureCK Chan

6 Tools in an Aerial Cinematographer’s Bag

Updated: Mar 12, 2019

The fundamentals of aerial filming are similar to the conventional outdoor shoots that I’m used to. But after 7 years of working as an aerial cinematographer,  I pick up some tools that help me in my drone filming assignments.

Use a gaffer’s glass for observing the cloud cover around the sun.

1. Gaffer’s glasses – cloud cover

Outdoor photography is always challenging because the light is never in your control. The sun being your source of light can be sometimes extremely harsh. You need cloud cover to even out the exposure and produce better and less contrasty footages. A Gaffer’s glass is what you would use to check the cloud cover.

A Gaffer’s glass is aimed directly at the sun in order to study the movement of the cloud. In some sequences, you may need the cloud cover.  In other shots, however, you may actually want no cloud cover at all. Either way, the Gaffer’s glass is what assists you in both situations allowing you to precisely set your ambient exposures.

2. Weather app

A trusty weather app that can help you plan your shoot in advance. It can tell you what the weather condition is going to be like on a specific day. But that is the common bit that every weather app does. You would also want it to be able to tell you the position of the sun in respect to your shooting position. All these pieces of info will let you pick the specific light path to incorporate specific effects in your footages.

3. Wear black – you may be in shot

It’s hard for a drone team not to be “caught in shot” when doing aerial shoots because the view is so wide. If you happen to be flying a drone chances are you will be filmed by the camera. The best option is to wear dark clothing which will help you keep a low profile.

4. A big hat – to reduce glare

A large hat has multiple advantages. It helps block out the glare from your iPad or your monitor from affecting your vision.  A large hat with a back flap helps prevent those sort of rogue reflections giving you a much better time working with a monitor out in the field. Second, with your vision improved from the shade, you can see much further away. That means you can spot your drone from a much further distance than you would otherwise be able to.

Draw out the flight plan so the pilot and client are all aligned with your flight plans

5. Small Marker board

A marker board is your operational control room. You (the pilot) set out the flight path and discuss it with your spotter and your client so that everyone is on the same page. Any objections are considered and any suggestions are taken into account before the final flight path is chalked out and approach is determined before take-off. A small marker board thus goes a long way to help you plan you work.

A pre-established flight path rules out the chances of a mid-flight interruption with either the client or your pilot disagreeing to the route you take. This saves valuable time during production and speeds up the overall completion of the assignment.

Find out more about Skyshot and the services we provide like aerial filming and time-lapse video production. Contact us if you have any filming hacks to share.

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