4 min read

Add Drones to Your Video Project

September 30, 2016

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Imagine this..

[FADE IN]

The fading sun casts its last, fleeting bits of warmth onto dilapidated rooftops. A street lamp flickers below as evening settles in and the block stirs with sounds of waking vandalism.

A tall building on the corner tells the story of fear and unease in the city -- its first floor windows barred, fluorescent lights humming.

A lone man stands on the street corner outside the building. His gaze lifts slowly from the street toward the cityscape. As his eyes rise upward, so too does the pitch of activity and action, the cacophony of sound reflected on his face through the dim glow of a cigarette.

The man shrugs his shoulders and tilts his head, listening. He tosses his cigarette to the ground, mashes it with a worn, black dress shoe, and turns to make his way down the sidewalk.

Traditional filmmakers have countless ways to show the cityscape and skyline described in the scene above. However, when working on a strict budget, the options for capturing such a scene are much more limited. Access to helicopters for aerial shots are typically reserved for big budget productions.

Still, any filmmaker, even those with small budgets, may need to capture the feeling of expansiveness that comes with an aerial location shot.

That’s why drones have become such an important part of modern video production.

Drones in Modern Video Production

The invention of drones has made shots once reserved for Hollywood productions available to creative endeavors of all sizes. They have opened up a new world of options, with the cost and available drone models ranging widely. DJI, a leading manufacturer of commercial drones with filming purposes, prices the inexpensive model of their flagship Phantom series at $339 USD, while other Phantom models reach all the way up to a baseline of $1,199 USD.

While drones make it possible for low-budget productions to obtain high-quality aerial footage, there are a number of complexities and requirements involved. These include regulation details such as the FAA requirement that pilots using a drone commercially must have a private pilot’s license and file flight plans prior to filming.

That’s why working with an experienced company, one that uses drones regularly in its video production and is familiar with the U.S. air space map, will save you time, money, energy, and potential frustration.

Drone Technology 

If you have ever stared up in awe at a drone, you’re not alone. Drones are an amazing little device, often controlled from the ground by a remote control, including one built into a smartphone or tablet app. Wireless connectivity allows a drone to view its surroundings from a bird’s eye view. Those controlling a drone can pre-program GPS coordinates and create an automated flight plan for the drone. 

Drones are lightweight, a necessary component to keep them in the air. They use rotors that have a propeller attached to a motor to hover. Two of the drone’s rotors move clockwise while the other two move counterclockwise to complete this maneuver. 

The drone receives information about its speed and direction through an accelerometer. An altimeter tells the drone its altitude. This information helps a drone avoid crashing into the terrain, as well as assisting it to land slowly and safely. 

Drones can capture incredible video when they are equipped with high-quality cameras. These cameras can allow the person operating the drone to control the drone’s movement without being able to see the drone. 

Benefits of Using Drones for Film Production 

There are considerable pros to using drones. While it’s still a new frontier with many developments to come, it offers filmmakers of almost any budget size exciting new possibilities.

  • A new perspective - Drone footage gives you a bird’s eye view so that you can capture footage of the top of buildings, the sky, and landscape. Additionally, drones can maneuver in alleys and confined spaces that other vehicles may not be able to traverse. 
  • Added creativity and motion - While there has always been something magical about a stationary shot with impeccable framing, sometimes you need something more grand and expansive. Using drones in your filming allows you to deliver your audience the exhilarating feeling of flight.
  • Better action shots - Drones are also great at capturing film for events with a lot of action. Drones are not as intrusive as large cameras and other types of film equipment, so you can get up close and personal in a way that you can’t with other tools.
  • Cost-effective - When you want aerial views, drone shots are much more affordable than other options. Utilizing drones allows you to stay on budget without sacrificing quality footage. 

These are just a few of the many benefits of using drones as part of your videos.

Promoting Your Aerial Film 

Once you begin to use drones in your film production, you will want to promote your creations. There are several innovative ways that you can feature your new trick, including:

  • Live streaming your production
  • Showing behind the scenes footage 
  • Using close-ups or aerial shots you get with your drone in your marketing materials 
  • Use drone footage in tandem with live streaming videos on social media to hype your production 

Get Started with NextThought Studios

At NextThought Studios, we are always on the cutting edge of technology. We have used various forms of technology, including drones, to bring to life aerial cinematography. Contact us for a free quote and to learn more about how we can put drones to use in your next production. 



 

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Josh Shockley, M.A.

Written by Josh Shockley, M.A.

Since cranking out the very first NextThought video, Joshua has been a dynamic force in every creative decision related to NextThought Studios. With a background in documentary production, Joshua has received multiple awards from his science and weather-themed productions. Joshua leads the creation of design and style for our videos, and he serves as a collaborator on every project we undertake. His skill with Adobe After Effects is unparalleled, and NextThought’s graphics are a testament to his creativity. Additionally, Joshua helms a wildly popular gamers’ webcast that publishes almost daily.