Over the last couple years, drones have become significantly more accessible with the introduction of DJI’s Spark and Mavic Pro, and others, and drone footage has found its way into many a video; however, not all drone videos are created equally. With the rise of drone usage comes an opportunity to elevate your creativity and skill set as a drone videographer. To help you take your drone coverage to the next level, we offer five simple tips.

These tips apply to any class of drone videographer, whether you fly a DJI Spark or a DJI M600. Gear does not determine creativity.

1. ND Filters

One of the sure signs of an amateur drone video is the lack of a neutral density filter. If you’ve never heard of ND filters, they are basically glass filters that block light from entering your sensor. Think of them as sunglasses for your lens. NDs are critical for video because they help cut down exposure without having to crank up the shutter speed. Faster shutter speeds can make your videos jittery. That, coupled with the smaller sensor size found on most drones, is a sure way to make your video look jarring.

Pro Tip: If you’re using DJI’s filter for the Mavic Pro, make sure to insert the filter after you power on the drone. Gently press the filter in against the lens. Otherwise, the filter may jam against the head of the drone when calibrating.

[REWIND: Camera Drones: All You Want, Should, Need To Know To Start Flying]

2. Using Foreground Elements For Your Drone Shots

Foreground elements help create interesting composition and layers in both photo and video. The same rules apply when shooting on the ground and when flying in the air. If your shot is not visually interesting in camera, color grading, slow-motion and other tricks won’t magically make your shot any better. When possible, utilize some foreground elements to enhance the production value of your shot.

Pro Tip: Using trees or a building to reveal your scene is a great way to bring the viewer into your scene.

3. Move and Pan the Camera With Control

For slower, more establishing shots, move the drone in one direction while panning the camera in the opposite direction. While this is an easy maneuver, controlling the movement for steady footage takes practice.

Pro Tip: Adjust the gimbal speed to your liking and get a smoother shot.

4. Reveal the Scene by Panning & Tilting

For fast camera movements that capture wide scenes, this is the action to implement. Panning the camera from left to right showcases the vast scene while tilting leads the viewer into the scene.

Pro Tip: By starting your flight path closer to the ground, you are also utilizing more of your foreground space which will exaggerate camera movement. Just be careful with how close you are to the ground.

5. Keep Filming On The Flight Back

Keep filming footage on the flight back to get more out of your flights. After you take off, fly from point A to point B and nail your perfect shot, but keep rolling for a backup shot and for creative purposes. It isn’t enough to just record throughout; you’ve got to make sure to fly back just as smooth as your initial shot. You can always reverse the shot too!

Putting these five simple tips into practice should immediately show an improvement in your drone videography. Remember to fly responsibly and keep up with the latest regulations for legal drone usage.

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