Taking off with a drone and hitting a record isn’t going to guarantee those epic aerial videos you find online. Building on that, many of the auto-tracking options available with plenty of drone systems are quite basic, only tracking subjects that are centered in the frame. Learning how to shoot a variety of different drone moves on your own can help you capture the footage you want.
Coming from filmmaker Jeven Dovey is a guide to 13 pro drone moves. He even makes use of the very affordable DJI Mini 2, proving that practically everyone can start working on creating great drone shots. It’s certainly never been easier to get started with drones.
Keep in mind, the controls mentioned are being performed using a DJI controller so if you don’t have a DJI drone you may want to double-check your controls before following these instructions.
1. Pull Back and Orbit
Up first is something that sounds self-explanatory: a combination of a pull back and orbit. On a DJI controller that will require you to pull down and to the right or left on the right joystick and then push to either the right or left on the left joystick.
This will take some practice, but the importance of manual control is the ability to slow down or speed up based on how your subjects are moving throughout the frame.
Basic but effective. Using the smooth and slow Cine mode, you’ll pull the right joystick off to the side. You may want to add a slight upward or downward movement based on your subject.
Nothing too fancy but it’s a great option for wides and works for both capturing the landscape or following a subject.
This is familiar to QuickShot users, but there is also a limitation that it’ll center the subject. By pushing left on the right joystick and right on the left joystick you can mimic this effect.
By flying manual you can better frame up your subject, perhaps capture more or less of the background. Also, you can do speed ramps when you want.
4. Arc (Slow Orbit)
By holding left on the right joystick and barely pushing right on the left joystick (or vice versa) you can create a more dynamic parallax effect even for landscapes where the subjects are two far off mountains.
5. Push Up
This is easy. Just rise up from a static position. Left joystick straight up. The trick to this shot is that you should be revealing something or have something entering the frame. There needs to be something more than just pushing up.
6. Basic Dolly
Similar to the dolly mentioned earlier, but just one straight direction. It helps add a bit of dynamism to an average shot and helps focus on what is going on in the scene.
7. Moving Orbit
By pushing forward and to the right with the right joystick while also pushing left with the left joystick you can create a great shot.
It’ll offer directionality that can match a moving subject like the jeeps in this example while simultaneously orbiting the subject. This one might require some practice to master.
Drones are not perfect. You’ll want to double-check all your takes in an NLE. This might include leveling out your horizon and stabilizing your footage to smooth out any little hiccups that might’ve been then.
9 (But Actually 8). Top Down
This is where drones really shine. Snagging a couple of overheads or top-down shots can really add some variety to your shooting in a way you can’t do with any other tool. One easy way to go is just adding a little bit of rotation. Gives it a little extra goodness.
9. Push Forward Decline
This is a great, simple shot to try out. All you do is push forward on the right stick, moving the drone forward, while pulling back on the left stick, dropping the drone’s altitude. Helps you focus in on the subject – basically the opposite of the push up which reveals more of the background.
10. Push Forward
The standard push forward is meant to be subtle as it gives a little bit of dynamic motion without taking away from the movement of subjects in the frame.
Just stay still sometimes. The drone is a camera, and sometimes a nice shot to get is one that is impossible with your average tripod or crane.
By posting up high and shooting a static image you can get a nice image. Try some different angles and make sure there is some movement happening in the frame.
12. Orbit with Push
Push left and forward with the right joystick and to the right with the left joystick, or the reverse. This will give you a lot of movement that gives you parallax, tracks the subject, and reveals more of the scene.
It’s going to require practice and the key is making sure your subject is the focus.
13. Push Forward w/ Direction
Pushing forward and slightly to the left or right, you can get a unique shot, especially if you have your subject move across the frame in the opposite direction. It is a nice angle that can serve as a transition by pushing in on the subject before it naturally leaves the frame and then leaves the drone to focus on the background.
Dynamic was definitely the overused word of the day. That is the key point for drone shots, make use of the incredible range of motion to add some movement to each shot and create variety in your final edit.
Which of these shots is your favorite?
[source: Jeven Dovey]
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