Hey everybody and welcome to the blog!
In this blog post we are going to take a look at how to fly your drone safely whilst filming fireworks AND some tips which will help you get the camera settings in your drone nailed - so you can get the shot!
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Read time approximately 5 minutes.
Here we go then, our 5 top tips for flying your drone safely, legally and get AMAZING footage and shots of Fireworks & Firework Displays!!!
1) Fly Safely & Legally - if you're flying in the UK in particular, then you need to make sure that you're operating within the regulations laid down in the UK Drone Code and the Air Navigation Order.
Don't forget, that if you're looking to do this type of flying for commercial gain/benefit, then you'll need to have your UK CAA PfCO or Permission for Commercial Operations. If you do, then DOUBLE-CHECK that you've got permissions to operate at night and not just during the day!!! This wasn't standard on PfCO 's until about a year ago, so check before you fly!
If you want to know more about this, then you can watch our video on safe night flying, and adding night flying into your CAA Drone Operations Manual by clicking on the video below!
2) Scout your location... Make sure you can be far enough away to shoot the fireworks safely AND make sure you do a daylight check of the flying site BEFORE you rock up to fly your drone!
3) What shots are you after? Work out a shot list, so you can do the proper planning and scout your positions BEFORE the BIG NIGHT! Think about a few things;
How high will the fireworks go? Typical Garden fireworks will go up to around 100feet. Commercial fireworks, like those at a fireworks display, could go up to between 500 and 1000’...
How far will they spread? Speak to the organiser! Don’t forget, the legal maximum you can go to with your drone is 400’... So you may not be able to legally get level with the explosions!
3) Drone Settings... You're probably going to be flying in GPS throughout but there are a few additional things to consider...
Consider turning the LEDs off at the front of your drone if possible, so you don’t get any strange glowing on the underside which may ruin the shot. Don’t forget to balance this with the legal and safety requirements of being able to see your drone properly
Switch off any avoidance sensors - they probably won’t work in the dark anyway - BUT, they may react strangely when they see explosions and could ruin your shots unnecessarily.
4) Wrap-up warm & don’t fly if the weather turns bad! It should go without saying, but generally, it gets pretty chilly at his time of the year once the sun goes down... Add to this, standing still in a field for an hour or so and it can get rather unpleasant... So, take more layers than you think you’ll need, a warm flask of tea AND a way to keep your drone batteries warm.
We also recommend taking a landing mat to operate your drone from, to stop the camera lens getting wet during take-off and landing AND a microfibre cloth to help keep the lens and drone clear of moisture and residue...
5) Camera Settings... Probably the most important part... If you get the opportunity beforehand, then we highly recommend taking your drone out to a display BEFORE the one you want to shoot. Remove the propellers and try different settings on the ground, to see what’s going to work best for you when it comes to crunch time! But, we know that this isn’t possible for everyone, so we’ve pulled together a helpful list of settings which should give you a good starter for ten!
- Use a slower shutter speed; You need to get as much light to the camera sensor as possible, so put the camera into manual mode and set the shutter to 1/50 of a second as a maximum.
- Set the frame rate of your footage to 24fps (especially if you’re shooting in the UK) or, if you’re going for slow motion, 96fps works well... Bear in mind that it may be worth cutting halfway through to change between frame rates... No-one finds 10 minutes of slow-motion interesting & switching between the types of footage will allow you something to play with, in the edit to make things a little more ‘interesting’.
- If you can manually control the Aperture on your drone’s camera, then open it as wide as you can to let as much light in as possible.
- The colour and brightness of Fireworks can confuse the camera sensor in your drone. To prevent changes in the white balance, set your white balance to manual and lock it to the daylight setting... This is what we recommend but you may want to adjust this if you’re going for a certain look or feel.
- Set the FOCUS to manual and focus to infinity. The last thing you want is your camera hunting for focus as the fireworks are exploding... So, set the focus to manual on the ground and then, focus your camera. One trick we use to do this in the dark is to focus on a light source like a street light in the distance... Or, get someone to stand about 50-100m away and shine a torch at you, then focus on that.
- set your ISO! One way to improve the shots you can get in the dark is to increase the sensor's sensitivity to light. We normally crank up the ISO to achieve this BUT it’s worth bearing in mind that as you increase the ISO, you will also create more noise on the sensor. So, there’s a balance to be had here.
We recommend a setting of around 1600 as a good balance between noise and sensor sensitivity BUT, you’ll need to see what works best for your drone & again, we recommend trying different settings and decide what you’re going to use BEFORE the night of the shoot.
Why not go out into the garden tonight after dinner, once the sun’s gone down and seeing what dark footage looks like on your drone at various ISO settings?
-finally consider shooting in a flat-colour profile! Yes, you’ll need to do some colour correcting in post-production as part of the edit... (And if this scares you, then just set the colour profile to vivid and let it do its thing!) BUT, if you shoot in a setting like D-Log on a DJI drone, this will allow you to capture the most data possible from the sensor and allow you to grade the footage and make it look how you want it to, rather than just accepting what Mr & Mrs DJI think it should look like for you!
Above all, don’t forget to Fly safely, get some amazing footage and don’t forget to wrap up warm! :)
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Fly safe and blue skies
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