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How I do, what I do. (And Why.)

Basics of owning, flying and getting great footage.


How do I do what I do? Well I’m not going to go all salesman on you. So you are here, cause you want to produce good footage and I can tell you some things that work for me that I hope you find helpful!


In Canada, you have to go through and complete either a basic, or advanced exam. From personal experience, it’s harder than it should be, but easier than you expect it to be. Just do the work and that’s about it. If you prefer videos, Don Joyce on youtube has an excellent program, and I’ll link it in the description. Now, you have your license and Transport Canada has your registration, license, name, phone number and your first born. Lets go fly.


So, before you fly, it’s important you do a checklist. My mnemonic is, bigger the drone bigger the list. Most of you have DJI Drones, these drones while they can be dangerous, are very, very idiot proof. I would know.


So, what you need to do is, check your battery, gimbal, props and the hull or chassis of the drone. Lithium batteries are kind of dangerous especially during the colder months. So inspect the battery for any bulging or things like that.


You want to keep the drone off of ice, snow or puddles for obvious reasons, a landing pad like the one below on amazon is great, and runs for something like 20 Dollars Canadian. Now let’s fly.

Let's Get To Flying!


When you fly, especially at first, you want to be in a wide open area and you also want to hover and inspect your drone. If there’s any wobbling, drifting or other kinds of movement that shouldn’t happen. Calibrate your IMU and your Compass. After a certain amount of time these components will get out of sync. So, with all that done, lets get into Cinematography and how to make your footage stand out.


In and Out: These are simple moves but they have tremendous power. A lot of money, time, research, science and effort have gone into making a camera this high quality. On something that can fly without any movements in the footage. Simple stuff works wonders. The same thing applies in relation to trucking shots, left right movement, and pedestal shots, up and down movement.


Tracking shots: it doesn’t matter what you are filming so long as there is a subject in frame that is moving either with the drone or opposite the drone, when you can get both, you got a winner there.


Orbit shots: These are some of my favourites as you may be able to see here, this involves careful attention and careful control. It may take a while for you to get a handle on the proper controls but when you do it feels good and the more you do it the more you build the sense of how to do those orbits. Now, DJI has quickshots but they often don’t work as well as just doing it manually.


Reveal shots: I love water towers in case you couldn’t tell, there is no graphic design that I could do that beats having the location I’m in, tell the audience where we are at. Brantford Telephone city, Caledonia. Etc. All you have to do is frame the shot up where you want it, then you have to fly above or to the side of what you want to reveal. Then just pull back, depending on distance you may want to adjust speed so you get a fast reveal or a slow reveal. You can work things around in the edit as well if you need to tweak it. Don’t aim to fix it in post though. Get as much as you can in Camera.


Top Down: one of the coolest shots we are able to do is top down shots. You can follow a river, go over a cliff, or if you are super courageous, a waterfall. When you do this, move slowly. You can always get more shots but do one that is slow, you may want to even do slow motion shots in your editor,

60fps can slow 50% and it still looks half decent plus they can look real nice.

In short, slow it down and let the shot mature.


Above all else, make sure you keep your attention on making beautiful footage, and being a better pilot. If you don’t love what you do, you won’t do it. Simple as that. There are many more types of shots you can do, when you combine these different movements, don’t forget your drone can move in all directions, you can create a 3D Path in the air and follow it. An orbit plus a pedestal, A pedestal down during a top down shot, move forward a bit. Keep flying and I’ll see you in the next one. Make sure you practice, remember, Arnold didn’t get strong by watching other people work out. Mozart did not create beautiful music by watching others play. It is practice, and development that enhances your skills. It's one of the reasons I love flying and why I'm on this journey. Telling stories in a beautiful way, is one of the gifts we have of the modern era. Just remember to not get too lost in telling other peoples stories, and forget to tell your own.


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