A Drone Pilot’s Checklist For Flying A Drone Videography Project

A Drone Pilot’s Checklist For Flying A Drone Videography Project

Drones are shifting the landscape of what is possible in videography. Shots that once would have required a helicopter or a crane can now be replicated with relatively inexpensive, off-the-shelf technology. The possibilities are groundbreaking for film makers, news crews, real estate videographers, and many others.

Establishing drone videography services represent important business opportunities for videographers looking to diversify their offerings, appeal to new markets, and make a creative statement in their work. But with new tech comes new challenges. To ensure you’re prepared for your next drone shoot, it’s important to have a checklist. In fact, no drone videography services should show up for a shoot without having a well thought out and rehearsed checklist.

No power means no flying – check battery levels

Check your drone battery levels before you leave, and make sure you’ve packed extra batteries and a battery charger you can use at a remote location. This is an essential that all drone videography services should have on their checklist. Here’s a handy tip, too. Preserve your batteries by avoiding overcharging. Always read the manual to understand how to get the most of your battery.

Do a “walk around” – checking for equipment damage

No pilot gets into a plane without doing a visual inspection beforehand. It shouldn’t be any different with a drone pilot. Take a close look at your drone for wear and tear, or for damage you may not have noticed when you packed up after the last shoot. For the operational system, pay attention to the propellers, and for your video footage, make sure the camera and gimbal systems are operating properly. Drone videography services need to ensure that the equipment is always ready to go when it’s time to shoot.

Current and anticipated weather

Every flight plan should include a look at the weather forecast. Even blue skies can suddenly change to rain, cutting your shooting time short. Drone videography services need to anticipate weather conditions and forecasts to schedule accordingly and adjust camera settings for changing conditions. Besides checking the forecast before you leave for the shoot, keep a weather app open on your smartphone while you’re on location.

Confirm your file storage space

Remember the primary reason you’re there, and make sure you’ve got enough memory to store all of the videos you shoot. Check to make sure you’ve cleared your memory cards of unneeded and old files, and be sure to have a few extra cards on file. And it never hurts to have a portable hard drive along so you can back up footage between shots if necessary. 

Do a camera check

Test your camera while you’re on the ground. A couple of extra minutes is a lot better than having to reshoot everything!

Recon your takeoff and landing sites

Takeoffs and landings are the times that you’re most likely to encounter situations that can harm your drone. Take a careful look around for power lines, overhanging branches, and other obstacles.

Scout the flight area

Take a close look at the area you’ll be shooting in before you get to the site, using online satellite mapping apps. That’ll help you keep your bearings when the drone is in the air. Additionally, take a short test flight around the area to get your bearings before you start shooting.

Storyboard and/or shot list

In the final analysis, the success of drone videography services rests upon how well they capture the footage they’re being hired to shoot. Be prepared to get the shots you’re being hired for by requesting and studying the storyboard or shot list, if one is available.

– Helen Clark
  Sr. Content Developer


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