How to Shoot Amazing Cinematic Drone Footage

how to make your drone footage amazing and more cinematic

How to Shoot Amazing Cinematic Drone Footage

Have you ever been awed by the beauty of some drone videos? Those that look like a “real” movie? If captured with a drone, you’d think it’s meant to be watched in the theaters. Such amazing cinematic drone footage can be confused for a “real” movie.

This is how to shoot amazing cinematic drone footage: Plan the shot, shoot between 24 and 30 frames per second, ensure shutter speed is double the frame rate, be gentle with the joysticks, set gimbal pitch speed at 15 and smoothness at 20, edit the video, and add the right music.

Some days, capturing amazing cinematic drone footage could be luck. Most often, it is a skill.

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7 ways to make your drone video footage more cinematic

Before drones, videographers relied on expensive techniques like hot air balloons and helicopters to shoot aerial photographs. Today, all you need is a drone, a computer with 8GB RAM or higher, and video editing software.

Here are seven ways to make your drone footage more cinematic:

Plan the shot

Planning is the difference between good and average drone cinematography. By just watching the drone footage, it is easy to tell how much planning went into it. The video quality immediately tells you apart from competitors.

In planning to shoot amazing cinematic drone footage, select the story to tell and break down the script. Most importantly, scout and secure the filming locations, the GPS route your drone will follow, and the angles to shoot from.

Sunrise and sunset are usually the best time to shoot amazing cinematic drone footage. With proper planning, you can capture great silhouettes with vibrant backgrounds. They have a way of making your drone footage more cinematic.

Shoot between 24 and 30 frames per second

When shooting drone footage for TV shows and movies, stick between 24 and 30fps. It makes visual effects easy to apply and your final footage cheaper to distribute.

30fps gives your drone footage a more cinematic feel. It gives clean and slightly more crisp images, which we consider the standard film. Although more fps is better, it’s not what people expect because the footage starts looking unrealistic.

Ensure shutter speed is double the frame rate

Setting your drone’s camera aperture between F2.4 and F4 is ideal for making your drone footage more cinematic.

If you are recording drone footage at 24 frames per second, set your shutter speed at 1/48th of a second. It means less light getting into the camera. As a result, you will avoid camera shake and motion blurs.

Make smooth movements

The most skillful way for beginners to achieve amazing cinematic drone footage is by being gentle with the joysticks. Ensure you are relaxed so you can focus on the shot. Ease up on the controls so your viewers don’t feel any jerky movements.

Follow the flight path without deviating from the script. DJI recommends that you start the drone’s camera recording 12-15 seconds before the planned clip. It gives you enough room to find the smoothest areas to work with during post-editing.

Set gimbal pitch speed at 15 and smoothness at 20

Gimbal pitch speed or sensitivity is how fast the gimbal shifts up or down. On the other hand, gimbal smoothness is how smooth the gimbal comes to a stop after an upward or downward tilt.

Different drones have specific gimbal pitch speed and smoothness settings. Most DJI Mavic drones shoot amazing cinematic footage if you set the gimbal pitch speed at 15 and smoothness at 20. It will give you gentle camera tilts that look very natural.

Edit the footage

I use Adobe Premiere to edit amazing cinematic drone videos. Footage composition is perhaps the most complex part of giving your drone footage a cinematic appeal.

Rule of Thirds

Understanding the Rule of Thirds and color grading is key to attaining proportionality and setting a tone for your drone videos.

Some software for editing drone videos includes Adobe Premiere, Wondershare Filmora, Windows Movie Maker, and Lightworks. Some are free while others require subscriptions.

Add the right music

Music adds an emotional feeling to your drone footage. Choosing the right music is critical to developing the subjects and the theme of your drone footage.

For instance, add classical music to sad scenes or jazz and opera music for happy scenes. The right music creates mood and atmosphere or brings a dramatic effect to your drone footage, making it more cinematic than generic.

Read also: Warning! These 7 Mistakes Will Destroy Your Drone


To shoot amazing cinematic drone footage, have a plan. Thinking through the process before shooting will not only impact your video quality but will also ensure efficient use of the drone batteries. Capture the best cinematic drone footage in slow, fairly simple movements, and take it to edit.

If there is one important takeaway for amazing drone footage, it is that you should always position the subject per the Rule of Thirds.

Do you need help with drone cinematography? Contact us or leave us a comment below.

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