The pros make filming with drones look breezy and seamless, but it requires concentration, imagination and experience. If you are interested in shooting drone videos, check out our interview with aerial artist Jeremiah Davis. We spoke to him about drone fight, filming and the future.
Learn to Fly
Becoming an accomplished drone pilot involves more than avoiding crashes. In order to get the ultimate footage, drone photographers must be able to control the speed, flight patterns and the POV. Professional drone pilots fly with a purpose in mind, rather than just flying to survive.
Strong pilots start with safety first and that includes knowing local UAV regulations and the surrounding hazards before flying. Be careful not to endanger people. Find the time and an open space to practice maneuvers. Start slow and focus on control.
Develop and grow your skill set in steps. “So many people love to fly a drone once then start taking on projects for friends not realizing they don’t actually know how everything works. Drones are exciting and having the ability to prioritize practicing is hard,” said Davis. Learn how to get the drone off the ground, hover in mid-air, land without crashing, fly in different directions (up, down, left, right) and master flight patterns.
Be aware of the capabilities of your drone and learn how to use those features. “Whether it’s tech specs or just flying, I’d say 95% of people who own a drone don’t really know what it’s full potential,” said Davis. Know your equipment and settings, so you can fly in manual and auto modes. Smart drone operators are prepared and have an alternative plan if something goes wrong.
Every model comes with a different feel, various features and different specs. Choose the drone that fits your style, your goals and your budget. Quadcopters have the arms and propellers for stability and are most often used by aerial videographers at the beginner or intermediate level. DJI quadcopters come ready-to-fly (RTF) with a built-in camera or GoPro connector. Consider your needs. The DJI Mavic is easily portable and DJI’s Inspire 2 is a higher quality drone. “When shooting for TV I always fly a DJI Inspire or Phantom 4 Pro. When traveling or shooting a tour for an artist, I find myself using a DJI Mavic,” said Davis.
Whether you are in the aerial filming business or just taking a fun flight, save time by having a pre-flight checklist.
– Calibrate your drone
– Make sure the battery is charged
– Spin props and check the motor
– Survey the region where you will be flying
Developing your Cinematic Eye
To get stunning aerial video footage, practice slow and steady flights. It takes a steady hand to get the shots. Some drones have built-in cameras and others require attached cameras, like a GoPro. Consider video functionality and weight when choosing a drone for filming. The lighter the load, the longer the battery will last. The GoPro HERO4 produces amazing video quality, despite the small size and affordable price. It also comes equipped with a wireless connection for downloading footage.
Being successful in the world of drone media requires dedication, versatile skills and a creative vision. “Be different. Apply what you’re already good at and what you love doing to drone videography and photography. Know more about drones than anyone you know and release work publicly as fast as you can,” said Davis. Look for angles that will give you the advantage in this competitive field. As an example, for video editing Davis prefers Final Cut Pro X over than the industry standard, Adobe Premier. “For the industry I’m in, style is your strongest asset. I find that editing in the offbeat program gives me that much more of the upper hand to stand apart,” said Davis.
Take a minute to soar, check out “Drone for a Year” on his YouTube channel.
The media taken with drones can be breathtaking and the video footage can take viewers on an adventure beyond anything they have ever experienced. Aside from the artistic outcome, numerous industries now see the enormous value in using professional drone pilots to capture footage. Committing to a career in drone videography is an investment in the future.
Davis shares the story of his flight to success, “This sounds dramatic but drones have changed my life entirely. Being able to fly a drone with a cinematic eye gave me advantage over a lot of young filmmakers which lead me to the opportunity to shoot The Chainsmokers “Closer” video with Rory Kramer. That video has over 1.8 billion views as of today and not only established me as a drone pilot but created a friendship with Rory Kramer that has led to a majority of my opportunities today.”
At the 2017 American Music Awards, The Chainsmokers “Closer” feat. Halsey was nominated for Collaboration of the Year and Favorite Pop/Rock Song. The band won EDM Artist of the Year and was also nominated for Favorite Pop/Rock Group and Artist of the Year. This is not just a hobby.
Aerial Cinematography, Marketing Videos, Event Coverage
Drones are making its way into every field. Filmmakers are finding that drones can not only get the impossible shots, they are more versatile and less costly than using helicopters or cranes. “Drone footage has become a distinct part of my style and I typically only work with clients that hire me for my specific style so it’s pretty hard to find something I make without any drone footage. Currently I work with Snapchat, MTV, The Chainsmokers, DJ Tiësto, Nickelodeon, Nike, G Easy and many others,” said Davis.
Drone footage adds value to a business and can be an effective marketing tool. The unique POV enables viewers to see things unknown to them before. Drones are already used to capture sporting events, concerts and natural phenomenon. Many think we are just uncovering the many uses for drones. Drone piloting is a sport, an art and for some, a career. “I plan to be creating a lot around the world this coming year for tourism boards, brands, artists and myself this year. I see drones being a huge part in this next season by being innovative in a style that I don’t think to many people have seen before,” said Davis.
If you are interested in filming video with drones, begin with becoming a good pilot. Try flight simulators or training drones. Use your natural ability as a videographer to guide your footage. Have knowledge of your equipment and use your imagination to unforgettable video and powerful imagery.
Visit Jeremiah’s website to see more of his work and get invaluable drone tips. For ongoing updates, follow him on Instagram @thatoneblondkid, like him on Facebook and subscribe to his YouTube channel.
For opinions and input from industry experts, keep following Summit Drones.
*This article was written by Miriam Cronkhite.
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