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3 Awesome Videos Shot with Drones (and How They were Made)

         

The big story in video production for the past five years has been shooting HD video on DSLR cameras; however, in 2013 there is something even hotter—shooting aerial footage with affordable multi-rotor aircraft. In this post, we take a look at three incredible videos that were shot with drones, and we find out how they were made from the people who created them.

DJI Phantom - Niagara Falls

Here's how Matt Quest made it happen:

Gear Used

Precautions Taken

I had been planning the shoot for two months, monitoring the weather all along. The wind and cloud conditions were crucial. The day I picked was the only day that month with zero wind and clear skies. The time of day was really important, too. I knew I wanted to film at "golden hour," just as the sun was setting. I monitored the reported sunset times that week, and made sure I had arrived with plenty of time to set up. I also did extensive testing with the Phantom, testing each component and writing down my findings in a log book. I also did extensive testing with the batteries, making sure I knew exactly how long each of them lasted with all the equipment installed. My fiancé was the spotter—keeping a line of sight on the Phantom, and timing the flights with a stopwatch, letting me know when I had enough battery life left to safely head back over to land.

Post Production

I used Adobe Premiere to edit the video.

Music Selection

The song is The In-Between by A New Normal. The process of picking a music track for this piece was one of the toughest challenges on this project. Music inspires my editing process, and picking the perfect soundtrack before I started editing was a must. I spent two weeks trying out different tracks before I finally found the song that best fit the piece.

FCTN Product Test 003: DJI Phantom

Here's how Chase Heavener made it happen:

Gear Used

Precautions Taken

The great thing about the Phantom is that you can pretty much be up and flying in about two or three minutes. Whenever I would see a shot, as long as it wasn't really windy, I would just set up the Phantom, shoot for about eight minutes, pack up, and be out of there. I like it for traveling because it's about as run-and-gun as you can get with a quad-copter.

Post Production

I did do some stabilizing in post, but not a lot. The gimbal really helps with most of the shaking.

Music Selection

The song is Paracosm by Washed Out. I've done some videos with Washed Out songs before, and I'm just a big fan of his work and thought the song really fit the footage. Usually when I'm editing videos, I have about three different songs I'm working with at the same time, and I will actually edit a few different pieces to see which I like best. I had been messing around on Instagram with some dreamy type music, and this song was really consistent with that. Nice and dreamy, like the footage.

Season's End

Here's how Mark Qvist made it happen:

Gear Used

Precautions Taken

I shot the footage for Seasons End in the Zealand region in Denmark, at the end of the summer. The footage was shot over the course of a few days, and I would get up before sunrise to be able to drive out to the shooting locations and catch the awesome golden morning light. We had some days of amazing morning weather, with clear skies and low-hanging fog, which made for an amazing natural lighting setting. To be able to get many consecutive shots, I would drive around with a 12 volt car battery hooked up to an inverter, and a couple of LiPo battery chargers, so that I could charge the Phantom batteries while driving from one spot to the next.

The balloon shot was especially interesting, and a bit daunting. One morning, before leaving for shooting, I could hear the sound of the balloon's gas burner faintly in the distance, and I hurried inside to prepare the Phantom. When I sat it down and connected the battery, the balloon was literally passing just overhead, only about 40 meters above me. At that moment, the Phantom was acquiring GPS signal, and I was impatiently waiting for it to complete, as the balloon drifted further and further away. (They’re faster than they look!) After a few more seconds of waiting I decided it was now or never, and I flipped off the GPS safety, spun up the motors, and took off, well knowing that if I was going to catch it I would be at the edge of the Phantom's range, without a GPS position stored so that it could return if it lost the signal. I got the shot I wanted just as the controller signal began to drop out, and I had to hold the transmitter exactly so that the RF beam would be pointed at the Phantom in the distance (which was now well out of my line of sight). When I turned around, I couldn’t even make out the take-off point through the FPV goggles. Luckily, I know the terrain in the area quite well, and was able to pilot the phantom back safely, and land it just as the battery depleted. That was an exciting shot!

Post Production

Post production was carried out in Final Cut Pro X. Footage was already very stabile due to the gimbal, but shooting in 2.7k on the GoPro affords some extra headroom when targeting 1080p, so a little extra stabilization was added to help with the fact that the Zenmuse only stabilizes two axes. Since everything was shot in ProTune, I used Magic Bullet Looks to grade the final shots from the Log color space, to get it as close to the experience as possible.

Music Selection

I chose the piece "Che sabok bood” by Iranian composer Fariborz Lachini. The English title of the piece is “Autumn Lightness.” I think the music by Lachini beautifully expresses many of the emotions associated with the passing of summer and entering into the darker seasons. Here in Denmark, the differences between summer and winter are stark, going from long light evenings where it never really gets dark or cold, to days of almost complete darkness. At summer solstice, the sun will not set until 17.5 hours after it rose, and the horizon will never turn completely dark. At winter solstice we only experience seven hours of day, with the sun barely rising above the horizon before it sets again.

To read more about the full line of drones available at B&H, click here.

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Drone films call-for-entries at the 2016 Moondance Film Festival, Boulder, CO

The Moondance International Film Festival, based in Boulder, CO, is one of the only film festival competitions soliciting drone films. Please check out the website for more info & the entry form, if you'd like to submit some of your films to the 2016 Moondance. I am also looking for someone to present an outdoor seminar/workshop on drone filmmaking, during the 2016 film festival event, September 4th & 5th, in Boulder, if you're interested. 

My Best Regards, 

Elizabeth English

Moondance Founder & Executive Director

www.moondancefilmfestival.com

moondancefestival@gmail.com

Amazing films but PLEASE stop thinking about music - background music originated with silent films; we've gone past that now surely. I want to hear the real sounds, don't mind a bit of engine noise; it will just make me feel I am really there, up in the sky, and not with an invisible orchestra making quite useless and interfering noises.

Dee

Thanks for your comment Dee. You (and Dawn below) make a good point about the audio track. Producing compelling audio is a complex subject, especially when it comes to filmmaking with drones. We'll definitely consider this topic for a future Explora article. In the meantime, you might enjoy the following article about using drones for wedding photography and videos: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/video/tips-and-solutions/camera-sky-using-drones-wedding-photography-and-videos

Thanks again for reading/viewing our content!

Awesome footage. Very inspiring. Just bought DJI Phantom 3 standrd, can't wait for the wind to drop nd the sun to rise!!! (Or set).

Films were wonderful. Would have been more wonderful with natural sound, so the viewer could feel actually there, rather than 'music'.

With the advent of more and more camera drones on the market I hope we will see more amazing videos like these here. 

I fly my airplanes with people over the falls and we have procedures for entering and operating in that requlated airspace which includes coordinating flights with air traffic control.  You are dangerous  

Wow! Thanks for sharing those guidelines... A great hand for new videographers out there. 

Great work and shots!

Can you please recommend any editing and animating software for post production?

For entry-level type editing,  Adobe Premiere Elements is a great software to work with.  For more professional work,  Adobe Creative Cloud which will have Premiere and After Effects which are very extensive programs to work with.  See the links below for both:

http://bhpho.to/1NDn56d

http://bhpho.to/1Kqodre

Just starting out,hope I end with as good as footage as you.

Last edited by jh@southernlights.com In 2015-8-21 03:43 Editor

High Water Mark
This 3 minute film contrasts sound recordings of the media’s dire Hurricane Katrina coverage with stunning views of a rebuilt New Orleans 10 years after.
Directed by Tom Varisco
Cinematography by Jackson Hill
Sound Design by Erik Winkowski
Edited by Jackson Hill & Tom Varisco

Great job, I just purchased my Drone and I am trying to learn how to edit. I was very impressed by your productions!!

These are some amazing shots indeed. Drones have been catching up in a big way and one of the emerging categories that we're now witnessing is "Travel Industry". We have made our own compilation of 10 of the most iconic Travel Drone videos ever: https://www.travhq.com/industry/spotlight/these-are-the-most-iconic-travel-drone-videos-you-would-ever-see/

So the last guy... He was using a toy drone.. YES the phantom is a toy.. A capable toy .. but still a "Made in China" unreliable toy.. So anyway he took off without a GPS fix.... He flew the drone beyond where he could see it.. Still without GPS fix..(even if it got a fix it could only "return home" to a location the pilot can't see) To the edge of his transmitter range... All on FPV goggles...  In persuit of a registered aircraft... It is precisely the irrisponsible behaviour that is causing all the problems in the industry!  What if you went just a little too far?.. What if you lost control before you lost visual?.. You could have flown the thing into the balloon!  You could have killed someone for a bit of footage you bloody idiot!

People, it is time everyone started to realise the seriousness of what it is you are doing before you destroy an industry or kill someone.... You are flying an aircraft.. Yes Phantoms are cheap.. It does not make them any less lethal when they hit another Aircraft or a person on the ground. Yes I'm sure you only plan to fly them just above the trees but the reality is when your cheap peice of chinese plastic decides to "fly away home" it could go anywhere! UP, DOWN, SIDEWAYS... You have no idea where it will go... I speak from experience.. I had a chinese drone fly away on me.. It is the last DJI I will ever own..

And that is your suggestion for equipment?

I love them all, fantastic work. Yall can check mine out here.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7evCI-nfbe4

I got Phantom 3 recently, and I have to say, you flew in some pretty tight places with your Phantom that I wouldn't dare try.  Did you just slow it down to get through the tight places and then speed it up in Adobe Premiere?  Did you shoot some of it backwards and then reverse it in A. P.  Very well done shooting and editing.  I learned a few things from you.

Amazing videos. Heres a video review I found on the net: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQNpbPW5VPo featuring the DJI Phantom 2 as well. Also i found a comparison on a site on which is the best drone in terms of quality-price. They don't show videos as good as here, so thanks you guys for this post.

Here's another DJI Phantom 2 video shot of a Canada canola and wheat harvest.  Really great!

https://youtu.be/beQGKw36H8A

Dynamic videos all shot with customized Phantom 1, Hero 3 and 4.  ©2015 Harris Welles

https://vimeo.com/120477716

https://vimeo.com/85732360

Hey guys. It's awesome the pictures made with drones. And the videos are as well fantastic! I must say drones are one of my favorite gadgets (if you can consider that) of all time. I, myself, made a little review about best drones in quality-price. The article is in spanish and can be seen here in my website. In case you want stop by.

Anyways, nice pictures!

I love this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLLNGMIvpBI as it shows The awesome DJI Phantom not only from the ground but from it's on board camera, a really amazing UAV.

Also this video that shows quadcopters at night https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MB7rPLJP9k

Many thanks for the post Sam, those are 3 amazing videos.

Hampi, India is magnificent

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4FQzm8a5X4

Check out this amazing shot over Downtown Summerlin and the Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada! 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ny4NL7CfDDA

I think you might have missed one by Phillip Bloom, a heavyweight in all things camera who coincidentally narrated the Inspire 1 launch video. Enjoy!

https://vimeo.com/97455734

These videos truly are amazing, especially since they were shot almost a year ago on what is now old-generation equipment. Great filming and editing though.

I love watching these quadcoter videos.  The technology from Phantom, GoPro and using Gimbals is really turning out some great cinematography.  These are excellent videos above.  Love the seasons end.  And thanks for adding n the information on what each person used in the making of these videos. I research the best drone videos of great scenery and publish them on DroneZon.  I love this technology. 

More Drone Videos Here http://youtube.com/doolittlemedia .. all shot with the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+

Es maravilloso todo lo que hace usted felicidades.

Seasons End is phenomenal.  Those are some phenomenal artistic and stylized shots!  The footage turned out great, and the editing was right on!  This shows what the Hero cameras, and of course, the Phantom with Gimbal are capable of.

Although, I have had a quad, gimbal and camera of another variety for quite some time, I am now to the Phantom 2, and gimbal.

Mark Daniel Imaging on youtube...

All were good, but I really loved the FCTN Product Test 003, some VERY brave shots around water and trees which mirror the style I am looking to achieve with my new setup.  

Those are some really amazing videos.  I'm impressed by how high these little copters are able to go.  Several shots seem like they would need a boom to get, but then they just keep on going, like going through those trees in the second one.  

Spot of black at the front of the piece... kinda bugged me but matched the music. Very nice though!

Three amazing short film shots. I've got to pick up one of these kits. Love this stuff!

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