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  • Writer's pictureCK Chan

Secrets to a Successful Drone Shoot

Updated: Mar 12, 2019

In the last few years, aerial filming with a drone has become considerably more affordable. Here are some tips to keep in mind when filming with a drone.

Make preflight weather check mandatory

One of the cardinal mistakes that drone operators do and this is highly reflective of the professionalism displayed by some of them is that they don’t check the weather reports before flying their drone. Yes you have a deadline to adhere to and yes you have promised to shoot on a particular date. Yet, if the weather isn’t perfect you risk not only your equipment but also your reputation and the reputation of your client when you crash. You also endanger unsuspecting passersby. In Skyshot, we always have a backup day in our drone activity permit. This will safeguard ourselves and our client’s interest too.

Draw out a flight path and get the team on the same page.

Prepare a list of passes and moves before the shoot begins.

In normal ground filming, you have a start and end point for each shot and you repeat them until you are satisfied. Then you move on to the next shot. This logic does not work with drone filming.

For drone filming, its all about utilizing the limited flight time to get the most recording time.  So write down a list of “must-have” shots, and a list of “good-to-have” shots. Then work out a flight plan that gives priority to the “must-have” shots. Chalk out where you will start and end each shot. Work out a sequence that will flow naturally to the next shot. For example, start from  1. A low fly-pass, which naturally leads to a 2. 360 arc shot. That will lead on to the next shot, which is 3. Escalator down. The idea is to finish the whole sequence of flight movements and maximise the limited flight time you have on each battery.

Maximize the usage of limited flight time

That brings us to the next tip. You have a max flight time of 8 to 15 mins. Thus, you need to plan to always fly the farthest first, when the battery is full. From there on, accomplish the shots that are closer to home.  So when the battery is about 15% left and its time to for the drone to return home,  the distance to cover is manageable for a fast depleting battery. Having a drone far way when the battery is running flat is a very stressful situation that we want to avoid at all cost.

It is good practice to change card as often as possible for aerial filming.

Change cards all the time

It is foolish to fly a drone with the whole day’s worth of footage inside. Why? Flying a drone is a risky activity where the unpredictable may happen for many unforeseen reasons. Safeguarding precious aerial footage is a priority after every flight. Therefore, change a new storage card before the next flight. It may seem over the top but this practice has saved us on several occasions. It is not surprising for us to finish a day’s work with about 10 storage cards and each card is barely a few video clips inside.

Next – find out what the tools in an Aerial Cinematographer’s Bag.

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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