Drone filmmakers, are you making these eight beginner mistakes?

Tips & Techniques

No matter how good we may be at what we do, we were all beginners once. And beginners make tons of mistakes. In this video, Stewart of Drone Film Guide shares the eight most common mistakes drone filmmakers make when they first start flying. So, if you’re new to drone cinematography, this video can help you focus and improve in a short time.

1. Flying without a purpose

When you first buy a drone, you may be tempted to add aerial shots to your videos just because. But don’t fall into this trap. You need to have a narrative and create suspense in your aerial video, not take a drone shot for its own sake.

2. Flying too high

As a new drone owner, you may also be tempted to fly as high as possible. I know I would. However, just because you can fly high, doesn’t mean you should. The sense of motion is smaller when you fly too high, so there’s no so much dynamics in the aerial shots. So, okay, try it out when you want to play with your drone, but keep in mind that flying a bit lower will give you better, more dynamic results.

3. Using auto exposure and auto white balance

If the lighting conditions change during your shoot, you need to change settings for different shots. This way you’ll keep the exposure and the white balance consistent. Although, auto exposure can work in some cases, such as flying between two drastically different lighting scenarios in one take (for example from indoors to outdoors). Still, for the majority of shots, make an effort to set everything up manually.

4. Shots are too long

Try to keep the shots short and sweet. If you make them too long, the viewers will find them boring.

5. Bad exposure

Blown highlights or rushed shadows reveal that you’re a beginner when they appear in your videos. And they’re not always possible to fix in post. So, make an effort to learn the settings of your drone and get the exposure right. While you’re shooting, monitor your histogram so you always know whether the exposure is optimal.

6. Poor understanding of light

The sun has a huge role when it comes to drone cinematography, considering that you will shoot most of the footage outdoors. So, learn how to use the sunlight. The best option is to shoot during the golden hour, because the long shadows will give depth to your videos. Have the sun behind the camera to get balanced exposure of the sky and the ground. If you shoot into the sun, you’ll blow the highlights and have a hard time getting a proper exposure.

7. Shaky footage

If you have a “bump” in the footage, it can really ruin the shot as it interrupts the flow. Learn how to make your shots as smooth as possible, but also how to fix it in post.

8. Wrong frame rate

We have discussed the frame rate many times here on DIYP. The bottom line is, if you’re going for cinematic footage, set your drone to shoot at 24fps. Still, keep in mind that different frame rates have different applications, learn about them and use them when you need them.

As I mentioned, we all make plenty of mistakes when we’re new to something. It’s an integral part of the learning process. Still, if you ask me, I like cutting corners and learning from other people’s mistakes in order to learn faster. So, I find videos like this useful to help me speed up the learning process, and I hope you’ll find it useful, too.


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