How to Make the Perfect Drone Video
By Tyler Mason, Director of Digital Media, AirVūz
With more than 25,000 drone videos posted on airvuz.com, our team has had the opportunity to view some incredible -- and not so incredible – drone videos.
Nearly all of the videos posted on AirVūz come from outside contributors, including professional cinematographers as well as individuals hired to shoot drone video of golf courses, real estate, college campuses, travel destinations, and the like. But, the vast majority of our contributors are drone enthusiasts who are looking for another way to capture the excitement of piloting a drone. Like attaching a GoPro camera to your helmet when you’re downhill skiing or skydiving, there’s something very rewarding about not only capturing a drone flight on video, but sharing it with others, especially those who appreciate your piloting skills.
Because we’re very curious about numbers at AirVūz, we, like most humans would naturally do, gravitate to the drone videos that get the most views.
However, views can be affected by a number of factors, such as the number of friends that a drone pilot has on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media. Or, the topic – as you can imagine, there are just some topics or categories that get more attention on AirVūz than others.
What our team has come to appreciate are those drone videos that are simply compelling in their own right. These are videos that you watch over and over or you share with others because they are addicting to view. They’re just cool. For a few minutes, they take you somewhere else and leave you wondering for days or weeks later.
So how can you create a drone video like that?
Here are seven tips that we’ve compiled based on our review of more than 25,000 videos to help you make more awesome drone videos, and get you more attention on AirVūz:
1. Practice your Drone Piloting. This probably goes without saying, but the more you practice at safely operating your drone, the better your drone videos will become. Being able to maneuver your drone, regardless of weather conditions or obstacles, and at various speeds, will help create the visual dynamics that keep people’s eyes glued to your drone video. If your drone video appears smooth, you’re on the right track. And of course, propeller shots in your drone video are not good.
2. Build Your Story. Instead of searching for a story in the video you’ve just shot, think about telling a story and then go shoot the video. For example, instead of shooting drone video of surfers, couldn’t you focus your story by just shooting drone video of the finest women surfers in Southern California and telling their story? Check out the Best of Show winner from this year’s New York City Drone Film Festival––the Mixed Motion Project (MMP3)––which takes the viewer on an incredible ride watching individuals running through city landscapes and jumping from building to building. Mixed with an incredible soundtrack, it’s absolutely captivating to watch.
3. A Different Perspective. Before you go out and shoot your next drone video, make sure to study the drone videos on AirVūz. Make a mental note not of what has been shot, but what hasn’t. Is there an angle that hasn’t been shot yet? For example, imagine shooting a video of a person running through the countryside. Certainly you could shoot overhead, but could you shoot at eye level? From the side? Looking up? To me, a great example of this is Base Jumping in Norway, a drone video by PilotViking. It will absolutely take your breath away, primarily because the drone video captures the cliff jumpers at multiple angles.
4. Grab Attention in the First 3-5 Seconds. Whatever your subject, you need to grab the attention of your audience immediately! If your video lollygags, people will click out. From an intriguing start, you need to keep rewarding your viewer throughout the video with shots that want to keep them glued to the screen. A great example is Drone&Tigersby David Etienne Durivage. It never lets up! One hint: Don’t spend too much time on the title sequence at the beginning of the video. Save the credits for the end of the video.
5. Not Too Short; Not Too Long. While there is not a magic length we’ve noticed among the successful videos on AirVūz, we can say that videos that are too short are unsatisfying. Videos that are too long can test the viewer’s patience. So what is the Goldilocks solution? Depending upon the quality of your video and the story, we’d suggest keeping your videos between two and four minutes, about the length of a catchy song. If you have a ton of drone video on the same subject, we’d suggest boiling down to the best of the best shots, and/or breaking it up into a series of videos.
6. Keep It Authentic. There’s a sweet spot that we’ve noticed between a poorly edited amateur video and a slick, overproduced drone video. The deeper you get into creating drone videos, for fun or for work, the more you realize that this is an art form. People share videos that are not only relevant, but authentic. Choosing the right music and the use of titles (and other words) throughout the video also play an important role in finding the sweet spot. And, don’t forget to share the story behind the story. In Woodland Refuge, the contributor, ZonieLand, shares some notes about the making of this drone video which provides some extra context behind the mesmerizing images.
7. Experiment! Don’t worry about making the perfect drone video. Just get out there and shoot! Perfection comes from trying and––at times––failing. The more you do it, the better you become. Welcome comments and criticism from friends, family members, co-workers, and from other drone enthusiasts. The main thing is to just have fun and think about your drone video filming like a big laboratory where you get to experiment and try out new ideas. That’s what it’s all about.
At AirVūz, we’re trying to build a great community on the Internet for posting and sharing of drone videos. We want to see everyone who posts a drone video on our website feel proud of their accomplishments, and more importantly, to learn from each other. Besides studying the videos on our website, we urge drone enthusiasts to check out the Blog on AirVūz, which features stories and tips on how to make drone videos.