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There’s a lot more to filming great footage with your drone than just your operating and photography skills. Capturing the perfect shot requires quite a bit of back work from finding a beautiful destination to understanding the region from fluctuations in the weather to crowds and accessible places to get the best view. Here is a to-do list before before heading out to shoot with your drone.

Scope Out the Area

 The first thing you need to do is to plan out the area you’ll be filming in and get familiar with it. First, check on AirMap to make sure that the airspace you want to fly in is legal.

Once you have confirmed that, you’ll want to locate a safe spot that you can stand to operate the drone from. Remember, the FAA requires you to always keep your drone within your line of sight, so you’ll want a spot that is as open as possible, free of obstructions.

Use Google Earth to get a great aerial and street view of the area to map out your general flight path. Be aware of things like buildings, mountains, electrical wires, or anything else that may block your drone or your vision.

If you are the director, or the camera/drone operator, make sure that you have spoken with the person in charge, whether it’s a director or client, in great detail. Make sure you know what they have in mind. Speak up and don’t be afraid to address concerns and safety issues.

Photo courtesy of Christian Joudrey

Groups of People

 This next tip is similar to scoping out the area. When you are looking at where to fly, identify places where crowds of people may be. Drones are fairly loud which will probably annoy people nearby if they aren’t aware.

Drones also can become a safety concern when flying over large groups. For instance, if a malfunction happens for whatever reason and it falls in the crowd, it can result in serious injury and you would be liable. 

For these reasons, make sure that everyone around will be aware of the inherent risk of drones and that they are comfortable. All it takes is one motor failure, a prop flying off, or a guidance malfunction and you have an uncontrollable flying guillotine on your hands. Never fly over large groups of people that aren’t aware as it’s just not respectful. Don’t give the drone community a bad name!

Practice Runs

Once you’ve planned out your flight and are familiar with the area, you should consider doing a couple practice runs. This will just make it so you can identify any other things that you should be concerned with before doing the real thing. This step will make it so you are comfortable with flying in the area so you can put more of your focus on capturing awesome shots.

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Bishop

Weather

Weather is something that can really affect your drone shots. You don’t want to let the weather ruin them, so plan ahead and check weather conditions before.

You’ll want to avoid precipitation and the wind at all costs. Although most drones can handle light water, you don’t want to push them to their limits. Precipitation or fog can ruin your drones and fog up the camera.

The wind is also something to avoid. Our drones here at Lumoid are all rated for around 25 mph, as that is standard for most. However, the wind will make your footage shaky and out of focus which will basically make it worthless. You also are putting your drone in danger with the possibility of crashing or losing it. It’s simply just not worth it.

Weather is constantly changing and predictions aren’t always right, so don’t be afraid to cancel or postpone the days that you shoot. This can be hard for drone pilots who have planned a day to shoot weeks in advance and are anxious to shoot. We understand it’s tempting, but realize that flying in adverse weather conditions is simply just not worth it.

Go through this checklist any time you are wanting to shoot with your drone, and you will make your chances of success that much more likely. Have fun flying and remember to be safe!

Feature image courtesy of Stephen Pedersen

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