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You may remember some beautiful aerial filming in movies such as The Lord of the Rings and the opening scene in The Sound of Music.  Creating a story line and provoking imagination is part of what aerial photography can do for movie goers. If you want to include aerial film into your movie, there are a few different ways to achieve this.  Depending on your budget size, you could employ an aerial filming service with a helicopter or light plane which can start to add up very quickly, or you might like to consider using a drone to capture your images.  If you are considering including aerial filming into your movie production, here are some aspects you should think about:


Don’t invade privacy and always consider safety:  Don’t fly over crowds, highways or private property and it’s a good idea if you’re considering the use of drone footage, to research all legal and moral aspects of these devices when employing them. Make sure everyone nearby understands the dangers and keep non-essential people away from the shot. All it takes is one motor failure or a guidance error and you have a rogue drone flying around.  Don’t be afraid to cancel a shoot if the weather is bad or there are high winds.

The video camera: Unless you’re flying something big, you won’t be using a DSLR or Red Scarlet on your drone. Choosing a lightweight but great shooting camera is important.

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Crane moves: These are probably the easiest to do and provide excellent establishing shots. All you have to do is get the aircraft moving in a direction, then pan to keep the subject in view.

Wellsfar: While a full orbit is extremely hard to achieve, an orbit-by is easy to make stable and smooth. Start off toward your target somewhat off to the side and as you pass by, pan to keep it in frame and then move away and backward.

Side-slide: Start with the subject out of frame and maintaining altitude, slowly move to the side in a straight line, letting the target slide across your frame and out the other side.

Fly-through:  Although not the most difficult shot to achieve, these are by far the most dangerous. The pilot of the drone or aircraft must fly straight through a gap in an obstacle field. Excellent spatial sense is required for these shots and it is essential to keep it as slow as possible.

Orbits:  An orbit shot is a type of cinematic shot that enables you to move around an object while moving up or down. This is by far the most technical move and a perfectly horizontal shot is required so a great gimble is required for a drone or a very experience pilot and camera person for an aircraft. It’s important to keep a constant pan rate and adjust the fore/back and side motions to keep the shot the right distance and speed from the subject.

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When filming aerial shots, don’t ever say, “We’ll fix it in post.”  Ensure that you can get amazing and correct shots for your raw footage. If you shot decent raw footage, you should be able to use it without any major settings adjustments.

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