Drone Filming – Time to Get Higher

Andy Porter Aerial Filming, How to Leave a Comment

We’ve discovered the possibilities of UAV (drone) filming on projects for our clients Peel Ports Liverpool and Chester Re:NEW.
Up in the air, as with everything we do, we are aiming to produce footage that engages, informs and has high viewer impact. Here are 10 things we’ve learned from our aerial experiences:

1. Safety First

It goes without saying that you can only get those amazing gravity defying shots in complete safety if you are in the hands of a tried and tested, CAA approved crew. We will only work with highly experienced professionals who know the rules and have years of safe flying behind them, in environments where safety is paramount – oil rigs, power stations, construction sites, building interiors – you name it our crews have flown there – in all kinds of conditions. If you’re tempted to buy a UAV for Xmas and have a go yourself in any commercial environment, don’t.

2. It Pays to Plan

Before even considering a UAV shoot you need to plan it carefully to ensure you get the most out of the time spent. Recces and pre-production site visits are ideal including close liaison with the people who know the environment best, so you can work out the locations to fly from to get great shots most efficiently.

3. Teamwork Gets Results

UAVs produce brilliant quality 4K footage and stills, but asking a pilot to fly the UAV as well as operating the camera is asking a lot. It can be done if the budget is limited and the shots are relatively straightforward fly-overs of an open site, but having two operators enables you to get more out of the medium and thus achieve some of those “how did they do that?” moments.

4. Weather Watch

In our unpredictable climate it pays to keep an eye on the weather and plan your shoot accordingly. Professional drones will happily fly in up to 20 MPH winds, but sudden gusts can cause issues for landing especially and in wind speeds like this it is much harder to keep the camera steady to shoot (and almost impossible for high quality stills).

5. Think Different

Having worked on helicopter shoots in the past the speed, cost effectiveness, stability and flexibility of a UAV shoot is something of a revelation. Basically the kit arrives in a neat single flightcase and can be ready for action in a couple of minutes. The propellors twist onto the rotors, a battery slots into the body of the UAV, your iOS or Android phone or tablet connects to the remote control via a USB cable and if you haven’t done it already you can download the DJI GO app to connect everything together. And that’s it, chocks away. The UAV can give you dizzyingly high perspectives (up to 100m), low angle tracking shots alongside vehicles and everything in between – so loads of scope for creativity.

6. In-Flight Communication

A plethora of GPS connections help keep the UAV steady in the air and with the user friendly App the director can monitor what is being recorded live on an iPad whilst explaining to the pilot what he wants next.

7. Stills and Video on the Same Flight

Switching from HD video to 12 Megapixel stills is done remotely, in flight, with a touch of the controller screen.  It’s all incredibly quick and straightforward.  And if you want to shoot stills RAW to manipulate them afterwards, you can.

8. Less is More

Ideally UAV sequences work better and have more impact if they are mixed with conventional ground-based shots in the edit. When we have used UAVs we have also had a ground-based crew filming too.  What the drone footage does brilliantly is put everything that’s recorded on the ground in context.

9. More (Batteries) is More

Battery life limits flights to typically just over 20 minutes, so having spare, fully-charged batteries for your shoot is a must.  Although in good conditions you will be amazed at what you can film in 20 minutes.

10. Post Production

Micro SD cards are used to store all the footage shot and you can transfer it directly from these onto archive drives and into your edit suite. To make it look its loveliest the footage should be shot “flat” then treated like film – ie colour graded. Like any format, given a little time your editor can ensure he or she uses the best settings for the camera to match the footage seamlessly to your other (ground based) camera rushes.

UAV (drone) filming adds a whole new dimension to production. As with every aspect of our work we approach it with complete professionalism and a clear sense of purpose. All our crew are CAA approved. To find out more watch some of our films or contact us for further information:

 

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