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7 Tips for Planning & Filming With Drones Over Water

7 Tips for Planning & Filming With Drones Over Water

by DeVore Design, February 2, 2017

Keeping a flight safe and dry is absolutely the main concern when you are filming over water. This type of landscape is one that offers many stunning visuals, but also presents multiple concerns. Even though there may be a perpetual fear that some have of getting their drones above water, once you become at ease enough it will seem similar to flying over any other type of location.

Many of the most intense pictures and video that you can capture are gleaned from above, as the crashing of waves and intensity of sunsets really up the ante. Here are some tips to make sure that your flight goes well, and that you capture the coolest images possible.

1. Make Sure you have Calibrated Properly Over Dry Land:

Before you make the choice to head out over water, it’s important to make sure that you have the drone calibrated over land first. An ideal location for this is one where there is not metallic objects, or any electromagnetic interference.

Taking a spin over a section of land that has a very stable environment gives you the best opportunity to make sure you are functioning at a good capacity. If all of the GPS positioning along with other necessities of flight are working well, then there is a better chance that you will be able to get awesome shots and video when you’re out over the water.


2. If filming from a boat, Have Landing Experience

In some of the most pristine locations on Earth, the ocean offers amazing opportunities for drone footage. Since the average range for a very high-quality drone is a mile or two, sometimes you may want to embark on a boat journey to best film an area full of cliffs, an island, or amazing reefs that are not near the original shore.

Even with the return to home and landing feature of many drones such as the Dji family, you may want to practice for quite a while landing on a waterproof case or other fixture. Being well-skilled in the landing aspect of your flight is of the utmost importance: there are sudden headwinds and gusts that can occur right near the water’s surface, and slow and steady goes a long ways during landing. Using quick-disconnect prop guards is essential in this environment as well: sometimes the drone will take a quick bounce upon landing, and having that area guarded will go a long ways in keeping the drone safe after flight.


3. Taking hints from the top dogs:

As soon as you feel that you are a bit more relaxed in your preparation to shoot over water, you’ll be ready to begin planning the types of movements that will do the best justice to the landscape. Imitating what big-budget filmmakers do best is one of the things that results in the best shot: try moving backward while moving down at the same time, for a simple, yet crystal-clear viewpoint that draws attention to glistening surfaces.

“Orbit” shots are another great tactic for getting stellar video over water: while carefully flying the drone right or left, gently move the yaw in the opposite direction. It is crucial to go easy on the sticks during this movement, but if executed just right, they will really make your over-water shoot stand out above the rest.


4. Knowing what shots can make an above-water session problematic

Once you are up and hovering safely above a body of water, it’s pretty easy to get so excited that you may not be able to clearly see what a viewer or client would want to have as a visual keepsake. Even though you can always edit out bad footage, one technique that does not always work is the 360-degree pan.

The drone can have a hard time being very precise with this type of movement, and it can give the finished product an undesired effect. When you are flying above water, executing simple movements is still stating a large number in cinematic terms, because you have already situated yourself over a landscape that is way above par.


5. Tactics to help with ultra-close footage

All bodies of water offer a great amount of intensity that can be captured by a drone: and sometimes, you really get the urge to get up close. Filming at a flat form is going to give you the most dynamic range available from your camera, and will prevent the clouds and sky from blowing out visually.

Lowering your shutter speed if you are flying close to the water will prevent the certain strobing effect you can get while keeping it higher: keeping it around 250 will at least make sure that your shot has some remaining clarity and composure.


6. Avoiding a Standard Drone Look by means of Time

When drones hit the market in full force about 3 years ago, everyone was instantly captivated by the footage from above they offered. As even footage shot over water became commonplace, there were several examples that always stood out above others.

Shooting during sunrise will always be one of the most alluring choices for above-water shots: the unique characteristics of that hour rival even that of sunset. Sometimes when you arrive home with footage from the very early morning, you may be prone to using the contrast knob and some filters to help with glare on the post-production end, but the overall prize of footage that has a true glisten to it is well worth the effort and pre-dawn wakeup!


7. Observe Closely When it Come To Obstacles

Some of the most awesome and varied locations when it comes to water are planted right near some pretty intense obstacles that could affect your flight. Antennas, transceivers for boat location, and lighthouses can all provide immediate trouble if you get too close.

When you first arrive to the beach, it will really pay off to study the waves for some time. If they are really crashing high but you are confident with your piloting abilities, simply start from further back, fly straight up, and proceed over the water when you are about 4 times as high as the dangerous wave crest.

This is a post written by invited author Mike Plambeck from Dronethusiast. Mike is a hobbyist and writer in the Drone niche and when he’s not writing or flying he’s at home hanging out with his wife and two young children. A recent helpful post from mike at dronethusiast is their list of the best drones for kids.