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Setting up
your drone

Here’s a few tips and tricks to help you get that perfect shot in your flights!
Man with VR set

By Drew, Tech Lead @ Void

We love drones – videos, photos, edits, anything drone related. That’s why we’ve built a discovery and stock footage platform dedicated to aerial and drone videography. After seeing hundreds of videos we have noticed the wide range of filming setups being used, and in some cases drones are being left on factory settings.  Learn the best drone settings so that you can create a beautifully well balanced video. 

Whilst all drones are different and therefore may have different features or capabilities, there are some best practice steps that you should implement if possible. For reference we currently fly a DJI Mavic Pro, but the best drone setting we outline below should assist on all models. 

Our colour profile of choice is D-log, it captures a lot of depth and is the most versatile for post production work.

Video Resolution and Fps

As expected the higher the better so 4k and above typically delivers the best quality. It’s worth noting though that Instagram posting does not work with 4k so if you are planning on uploading your footage there you will have to do some post production. 

When shooting in 4k set the frames per second to 24 for normal shots. If you want to do anything in slow motion then up the frames per second to 60.

Colour profile

This is a topic always up for debate and it really depends on whether you are willing to do post production work. If you aren’t no worries, the cinematic setting on most tier one drones will have this in built.

Our colour profile of choice is D-log, it captures a lot of the depth and is the most versatile for post production work.

When choosing the codec, H.264 is standard. However if you want to take advantage of 10bit capture (which is amazing for high end edits and colour grading) then use H.265.

 

best drone settings - colour profile

Camera settings

A common mistake is defaulting to the automatic setting, which can result in over or under exposure. Also if not set up properly the camera can change its settings mid shot which creates those annoying flashes as the light exposure changes. So where possible choose to use manual settings. 

There are three main sections of the camera settings known as the exposure triangle:

Exposure triangle for best drone settings

ISO:

The length of time that the shutter stays open, effecting how much light is let in. The rule of thumb is the shutter speed should be double your fps (or as close to as possible). So for 24fps choose a setting of 1/50.

Shutter speed:

The length of time that the shutter stays open, effecting how much light is let in. The rule of thumb is the shutter speed should be double your fps (or as close to as possible). So for 24fps choose a setting of 1/50.

Aperture:

Or how wide the opening of the shutter is and how much light you let in. We find this really critical to get right when flying with Neutral Density filters (we will explain this in a moment). Set the aperture in the middle between f/5.5 to f/8.

Style settings:

These settings will effect the colour and feel of your final shots. There are lots of variations of what the best drone settings are, however here is our take on them.

+1 sharpness -2 contrast -2 saturation

White balance:

You should always check your settings before every flight, as different conditions or desired results will require you to tweak the white balance on each occasion.

So you have done all of this and your video on screen looks really washed out?

Don’t worry this is where ND (nutureal density) filters come into play. These amazing little filters are designed to reduce the light that is let into the camera and onto the sensor, without putting any colour filter on top. You can buy a range of ND filters but we highly recommend not cheaping out with these. Either buy them from the drone manufacturer or a specialist camera company as you can end up with tints on your shots from poorer quality filters.

Gimbal pitch speed and smoothing:

A last and final point. After you have spent all this time getting the colour and exposure right, you want to make sure that that your footage doesn’t start or stop with short jerky movements but rather has that smooth cinematic look you were going for.

Be sure to set your gimbal pitch speed to -10. This slows down the camera gimbal and results in smoother looking footage. Turn the gimbal pitch smoothing to around 10 to 15, this will create a smooth stop to any pan or camera movements you make.

A final note about best drone settings:

Now of course just setting up your drone is only part of the answer to getting that perfect shot. There is also the camera techniques used, the time of day or conditions and lighting that you film in and importantly the post production that you apply! But in applying the best drone settings at the start, you are well on your way to creating breathtaking aerial footage

Try these tips out, create a portfolio and get discovered with Void!

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