So, you just bought a drone and you want to be a kickass pilot?
Flying a drone might be the most fun you can have while making films—I mean, come on, it combines your childhood love of RC cars with your adulthood love of filmmaking! But despite what your wildest beginner daydreams tell you, your drone won't be doing corkscrew dives and precision tracking shots right out of the box, at least not with you manning the controls. This is why it's important to learn the basics so you can do all of that crazy awesome stuff down the road, and in this video, Matti Haapoja covers a handful of them so you can get started on your journey.
Now, you can go about learning how to pilot your drone however you want. Maybe you do better by thrusting yourself into the whole thing, crashing, and learning from your mistakes. Cool. That's totally fine. However, Haapoja's tips might offer you a safer approach to your aerial cinematography education, at least as far as your drone and your wallet are concerned.
- Practice on a cheap drone: I'll be honest, I've never used one of these little guys, so I can't speak to Haapoja's claim that if you can man one of them, you can man a full-size drone. However, trying out a small, cheap UAV first might allow you to not only get acquainted with the basics of piloting but also allow you to do it with something that won't hurt anyone if something goes wrong.
- Know your settings: I mean, duh, right? It needs to be said and said again and again because so many people don't take the time to really get to know the device they're putting up in the sky. Read the manual. Go through every single menu option. Learn about every feature and how it works and what happens when it's enabled and what happens when it's disabled.
- Practice flying: Forget recording. Do not record. Just fly. Go to an open field where there's zero risk of you accidentally throat-chopping a jogger with your drone and practice different maneuvers, primarily take-offs, landings, hovering, and even a few beginner flight patterns.
- Learn certain flight patterns: Once you've gotten the hang of basic maneuvers, try mastering different flight patterns that make for great cinematography. Practice fly-overs, orbits, leading shots, and tracking shots, and try to make them as steady and controlled as you can. I think one thing beginners forget is how difficult it can be to actually regulate your speed and altitude to get buttery smooth shots, so make it a priority to hone that skill.
- Learn how to control the gimbal: A great way to make your shots even more epic and professional-looking is to combine your tracking or crane shots with a nice pan or tilt. To do this, you'll need to become a master at your drone's gimbal.
What are some other tips that beginner drone pilots should know about? Let us know down below.