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  • Writer's pictureNerys Muller

How High Can You Fly?

A beginner's quick-start guide to aerial drone photography and cinematography

DRONES! You either love em' or hate em'. Regardless, we all have to admit these powerful little tools (as complicated as they can be) can sure provide us with the most stunning videos from way up above.

I'll preface this by saying I am by no means a veteran flyer yet, but I'm here to give you the rundown of the best tips and tricks I've learned in the first year and a half of my piloting experience from B2P weddings, indie films, and promotional reels, galore.

Let's get started!


1. RESEARCH! RESEARCH! RESEARCH!

Although I WISH every drone body was for everyone, unfortunately ... it's not. There are TONS of drones out there ranging from FPVs to multi-rotors, fixed-wings; YOU NAME IT!


That all probably sounded like a load of gibberish for some of you, but when first choosing a drone, you'll need to do some research.


Ask yourself: are you looking for more manual control or a nice stable starter for landscape portraiture? Whichever the case, do your research and put in the time to find which type of drone would be best for you.


For me, I wanted something easy with KILLER picture quality. I started with the DJI Mini 2, capable of producing 4k aerial photos and videos. This small, but powerful piece of tech weighs in at less than 249g, meaning you don't have to register it with the FAA for off-the-grid flying. It's got a Level 5 Wind Resistance grade, meaning it can resist up to 38 kph winds, taking off at a max altitude of 4,000 meters with tons of other features included.


I think it's the perfect starter drone for someone looking to get their hands dirty doing aerial cinematography, but if you're looking for something a little more advanced ... by all means fly away!

2. Learn the terminology!

Yaws, pitches, rolls ... OH MY! Whether you're a fighter pilot or a secondary drone op, these terms need to make their way into your everyday lingo.


Now, you don't need to go about memorizing everything as you would for a sixth-grade vocabulary test, but getting familiar with the terminology will help you out in the long run.


Chances are you've got a grasp on basic camera movements, so adding drone phrases to the mix won't be too complicated. Here are some basic ones below and what they mean and do:

  • YAW - like a PAN, turning right and left

  • PITCH - like a TILT, where the drone tilts forward and backward

  • ROLL - like a TRUCK, moving side to side

Again, there are LOADS of phrases to learn along the way. If you're interested in tackling more than just the basics, you can check out this awesome glossary put together by DSLRpros.com, giving you an A-Z breakdown of the most important terms to help you become a piloting pro!


3. Find which settings work best for you!

Like an artist would a painting, make your drone YOUR OWN! Factory settings sure are nice to get you ready for your first flight, but take a look at all the internal settings on your drone to create the most tailored flying experience for you.


You may find you feel more comfortable shooting in 1080p to start, rather than 4K to save up as much storage space as you can. Or maybe, you want the full tilt range of your camera in your 3-axis drone. The possibilities are ENDLESS!


People moan and groan about reading instruction manuals and toggling through your settings, but as a prospective drone pilot, doing this will help you better acquaint yourself with your aerial controls.


The last thing a pilot needs is to not understand the piece of equipment they're flying.


4. Practice in open areas when you're first starting out!

All those years of playing video games can only help you so much when operating the controller. You NEED to practice.


I'll get this one out of the way. I and every other drone pilot in the world will tell you ... YOU. WILL. CRASH.


And that's okay! It's normal and it happens more frequently than you think.


The best place to fly when you're freshly new to the flying crop is an open field with minimal obstacles. You'll need to familiarize yourself with how your drone moves, getting used to its wind resistance and sensitivity.


The more freely you can fly around at the start, the quicker you'll be acquainted with your drone. Better to crash in an open area than a tree that swallows your drone whole!


5. Take to the skies as much as you can!

Practice makes perfect (literally)! If you're not flying around, you're not gaining experience. A lot of what makes up drone flying is practical, so be sure to get out there and fly as much as possible.


This is the best advice I can give you!


Try things that scare you as you become more comfortable with your drone. Test out different altitudes, camera modes, and flying speeds to capture those stunning, cinematic shots from high up above.


Check out some of our drone cinematography in our client-branded videos and wedding films on our home page!



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