Chances are you’ve seen some quality drone footage recently somewhere. Maybe you saw an ad for a vacation with sweeping views of the ocean, or perhaps you saw a time lapse video of construction work taken from a birds’ eye angle. Both of those examples—and many more remarkable videos and photos taken from a higher vantage point—were probably taken with a drone.
Over the past decade, drones have exploded in popularity. From hobbyists who enjoy flying drones casually to professionals who make their living off of drone videography and photography, this form of media isn’t going anywhere soon.
A lot of people nowadays are interested in flying their own drones. It’s a fun hobby and profession, and can result in some stunning videos and photos. If you fall into this group of wanting to learn this skill and take on capturing your own drone footage, we have a few tips below to ensure your final product is amazing.
Invest in a Professional Drone Camera
The first step to getting the best drone footage is making sure your equipment is up to the task. While part of capturing great drone footage is up to the pilot, if your equipment is lacking, so will your videos and photos.
You can start by researching online the different drone manufacturers and accessories you might be interested in having for your setup. A few popular drone brands are DJI, Altair Aerial, Parrot, and Autel. Keep in mind the various price points during your research and ensure whatever drone you end up purchasing is within your budget.
A few additional equipment pieces we’d recommend considering for your own setup are below.
lights for dusk / dawn flights
hardshell carrying case
tablet for easy piloting
separate tablet holder for the controller if preferred
additional MicroSD cards
blade guards for close / indoor flying
Become an FAA Certified Drone Pilot
Getting your Remote Pilot Certificate (Part 107) from the Federal Aviation Administration should be your next step after—or even before—purchasing your desired drone equipment.This certification is required if you wish to charge for your drone work, or to fly a drone in restricted airspaces. It also demonstrates to any potential clients that you have the knowledge of the regulations and operating requirements to safely fly a drone.
If you’re thinking of skirting around this requirement (which we don’t endorse), be aware that a lot of newer drones have tracking capabilities.In theory, the FAA could see you flying an unregistered drone in restricted airspace and hit you with a penalty. We aren’t sure how often that happens, but why chance it?
Be advised that the test typically recommends around 20-25 study hours to prepare for it, but it could be more or less depending on the individual. We recommend being overly prepared and to spend some time seriously studying; by doing so, you will hopefully avoid paying for multiple tests, which would happen if you failed the first one.
After you receive your certification, you’ll need to complete an online recurrent training for your remote pilot license every 24 months. Unlike the initial certification exam, this test is free, can be completed online, and is easier than the initial exam. It ensures you’re kept up-to-date with any new FAA rules and regulations to fly a drone.
Practice Flying a Drone
After you’ve become FAA certified for drone flight by passing Part 107, the next step is to practice and refine your craft. For practice shots to add to your portfolio, think about scenic places in your city. Parks, landmarks, and colleges can make for great practice shots and are eye-catching clips to add to your work experience.
Whether you’re practicing or out on an actual drone shoot, you should always double check if you need FAA clearance. This is usually pretty quick and easy to get once you apply for it. Areas that you might need additional clearance for are places like hospitals and airports where they have aircrafts landing at them.
Outsourcing Your Drone Footage
If doing it yourself isn’t your speed, whether it’s because of time restraints or because it’s simply not something you’re interested in, outsourcing your drone footage is a common option, and the one most companies and businesses choose.
Because of the rising interest in drones, there are a number of marketing agencies with drone videography and photography as part of their services. You can also look into freelance drone pilots on sites like Craigslist or Thumbtack. Whichever outsourcing option you choose, be sure to keep the following tips in mind to ensure the end result is up to your standards.
Go Local with Your Drone Videographer
Choosing a local drone videographer can help you get the best drone footage through a couple of ways. They know the area the best, so they will have recommendations on where to shoot, what to shoot, and when to shoot to get the best angles in the best lighting. While all of this might not seem relevant to you if you’re just looking to have your business location captured, it can come in handy for tourism and construction videos.
Also, who doesn’t like helping your local economy? If there aren’t any options you feel comfortable hiring locally, then you should seek professionals outside of your city. But whenever you can, choosing local usually pays you back in more ways than one.
As mentioned in the do-it-yourself section above, becoming FAA certified is a requirement if you want to fly a drone and charge money for it. Hiring a company that does not have FAA certified drone videographers on their staff is a big red flag. It shows they’re willing to cut corners and potentially put your company in harm’s way by not going the extra mile to gain that certification.
Hiring an FAA drone videographer also gives you confidence that they know what they’re doing and are an experienced drone pilot. They will know how to operate their drone to get the best shots and how to do it safely, which will not only protect themselves but also your company.
Ensure You Like Their Drone Photography Style
Do you like dramatic drone videos and photos? Or maybe you’re after a more peaceful and scenic type of creative asset? As with most creative ventures, you’ll want to ensure you like the style of whoever you’re looking to hire.
Some drones have advanced settings that they can record with and even alter or enhance the way videos and photos are captured. Do a bit of research beforehand to see if there are any settings you like in particular and try to find a videographer that also shoots with those preferences.
If you’d like your drone videographer to also edit a video together, be sure you also like the final videos they produce. Video editing styles can vary greatly—even more so than just shooting raw footage—so do your due diligence in researching their styles before hiring someone.
Outsourced Drone Footage Pricing
Drone footage pricing can vary from company to company, but in general we see it fall within the $500-$800 range. This range depends on the length of shoot and mileage requirements. For a 3-hour shoot that’s an hour away from where your drone videographer is located will cost you more than a 30-minute shoot that’s only 15 minutes away.
If you’re a company and you have the budget for outsourced drone footage, and not the time to bring this skill in-house, the outsourcing costs could save you a lot of time and money in the long run by hiring a drone pilot or a marketing agency to handle drone photography for you.
Purchasing Stock Drone Footage
The third option when it comes to getting the best drone footage as possible is looking at online stock footage sources. While we typically think of this choice as the “last resort”, there are some great options and drone assets that you can pay for and sometimes even use royalty-free.
When Stock Drone Footage Can Come in Handy
While we typically recommend gathering most of your drone videos and photos through the two methods above, stock drone footage has its time and place. If you’re on a tighter budget and don’t have extra room for the DIY or outsourcing methods above, looking into stock footage is a great alternative. It’s possible that you can find some good matches on some sites like Shutterstock and Pexels.
If you’re a new company needing some creative assets quickly, looking to stock drone footage could also be a speedy and good solution to help you start building out your creative assets library. You can always switch out videos if and when you decide to capture your own drone videos.
The Catch with Free Drone Videos
While free drone videos can absolutely come in handy from time to time, there are a few drawbacks you should be aware of. The biggest potential issue to be aware of is usage rights. Depending on where you source your free drone video, you might have to give credit to the owner of that media.
Double check this with any media you purchase or that’s free to use—videos and photos alike. You don’t want to try to save money with this route only to end up paying thousands in copyright infringement fees.
The other drawback to stock drone footage is that it might not be the best quality or a 100% fit with your company’s brand. It could be “good enough” for what you’re hoping to achieve in the short term, but if you’re wanting photos and videos that are authentic to your company, it will be harder when looking for it through stock drone footage websites.
Getting the Best Drone Footage Possible
Adding drone videos and photos to your marketing assets can set you apart from your competitors and showcase what your company has offered better than traditional videos and photos. The sweeping views that drones provide are eye-catching pieces of marketing that can help make your company pop.
Whether you’re wanting to shoot your own drone videos and photos, are looking to hire a drone agency, or are looking to purchase stock drone assets, you’ll have some good options for all categories. Before choosing one of those as your solution, be sure you’ve vetted all of your options and evaluated the pros and cons of each. This will help ensure your final drone footage is inline with your company’s brand and up to your standards.
If you fall under the category of wanting to outsource your drone needs to an agency, Jack & Bean can help. We have FAA certified drone pilots who are well versed in capturing high-quality drone videos and photos. Contact Jack & Bean to see how we can help your business grow through drone videography and photography.
Whether you know exactly which services your business needs, or you’re so frustrated with your marketing that you don’t know which way is up, make time to chat with us and learn how we can help you succeed.