Videographer Max working with drone

Some of the best high-tech holiday gifts are ones that take you where the action is. On Christmas morning, thousands of people unwrapped drones — adding to the 7.3 million units already in operation nationwide according to the Consumer Technology Association.

The allure is simple. Drones are fun and a blast to fly! Their sophisticated cameras can capture a bird’s-eye view and deliver cinematic aerial video up to 4K resolution and stunning photos. And, many of today’s drones offer that quality while also being easy to slide into a travel bag for transport in a car or an airplane. So, it’s no surprise that these small unmanned aircraft are changing the way we think about b-roll for video productions – adding incredible assets to our storytelling.

Transforming video tactics

As drone enthusiasts, my husband and I own two different models – a DJI Phantom 4 Pro and a DJI Spark that fits in the palm of my hand. And, yes, Santa filled Tim’s stocking with key drone accessories like new noise reduction propellers.

But if your elves haven’t landed a set of drone controls in your hands, don’t cross it off your list just yet. Two Rivers Marketing videographers are certified to shoot those jaw-dropping aerial video clips for your next marketing project.

When these unmanned aircraft systems are used properly, they can transform your video marketing strategy. Here are three best practices to follow before greenlighting drone imagery as a video marketing tactic:

1. Visualize your project

While you can shoot at altitudes as high as 400 feet, it doesn’t always mean you’ll get the best results. Believe it or not, some of the best footage is actually created at lower altitudes well below 100 feet. That’s why it’s important to understand your project and how a drone can best illustrate your story.

Good pilots can recommend techniques and shots based on your type of product and project objectives, but it’s important to take some time to map out the imagery and angles you want from the air. Consider these tips when developing your shot list:

  • Drone footage can show the scope of a project or add flying motion.
  • Certain seasons can impact rooftops and grass that may “dirty” the aesthetic.
  • Sun position is critical.
  • Get creative with descents/ascents, reverse/forward, and left/right motion.
  • If there’s high action, chase it or shoot from one spot and let it happen.

2. Hire a qualified drone pilot

It’s been a bit of the Wild West as drone operation evolved. That changed in 2016 when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began regulating drone flights to provide safety for aircraft and people on the ground. Now, those who want to operate for any commercial application are required to register their aircraft and obtain a remote pilot certification through the FAA’s Part 107 regulations – the rules of the skies for using commercial drones weighing less than 55 pounds.

The Two Rivers Marketing video team is certified because we understand that Part 107 regulations are not optional rules. The point is this: You can’t afford to use a hobby pilot for a commercial jobsite. Not only does the practice break the rules, it can also carry fines.

Pilots should be able to fly most jobsites, or can obtain authorizations or waivers. However, there are rare situations where access is locked down due to airspace restrictions. But hiring the right pilot involves more than just a license – it’s about knowing how to get the great shots, maintaining safety standards, and understanding the regulatory framework that keeps everyone out of trouble.

3. Know the rules and the tools

It’s not enough to just hire a qualified drone pilot. Familiarize yourself with the FAA’s Part 107 facts and basic rules of legal drone flights and the cool tools pilots are using.

First, the do’s and don’ts:

  • Drones can’t be packed in checked baggage due to lithium batteries.
  • Pilots need to keep their drones within sight.
  • Maximum flying altitude is 400 feet above the ground.
  • No flying at night without special waivers.
  • Don’t fly over people or moving vehicles.

DJI has emerged as the leader in drones sold with mounted high-performance cameras. In fact, DJI’s new Mavic 2 Pro comes in an extremely small package and offers the iconic Hasselblad camera, resulting in outstanding image quality. Common features in drones include:

  • Software-driven electric multirotor systems for smooth flight.
  • Gimbal camera for superior stabilization.
  • GPS systems that hold the drone in one spot.

Enjoy learning about drones and adding one to your next shoot to deliver the “wow” factor viewers love!