We like to give a few tips on how to enjoy flying and shooting with your drone while hopefully mitigating the loss of one in a foreign country! If you have any extra advice that We may have missed, feel free to comment down below and we’ll make sure everyone else reads them too! We’ll try to make each point as light-hearted, simple and concise as possible to avoid a massive wall of text. I hope you find it useful for your next trip, whether you are a beginner or pro.
A. Practice and Prep those Moves
For videographers, it’s nice to have a list of cinematic moves in mind. This will save you some battery life and you can do multiple takes more efficiently. Mastery of your drone will come a long way as you travel more.
B. Get a Bag, Travel Light!
People usually buy many accessories with the drone but travelling involves an activity called WALKING and lots of it. Everyone can’t afford assistants to carry gear so focus on things which you really need and make sure they fit in your bag so that you can carry them for hours if needed. Some essential gear- drone battery cases (for safety and airports), storage for your files, and spares cables/props.
C. Lockers for Famous Tourist Spots
Some big attractions like Disneyland or tourist-filled theme/waterparks won’t allow entry for drones but they’ll usually have lockers just outside so you can pay to store your drone. It is good to inquire beforehand so you may choose to leave your drone at the hotel instead.
D. Research Drone Laws
As boring as this sounds, we need to look up some legislation since every country will vary in drone regulations. Some countries make things easier by giving us a map of where we can and cannot fly, such as Singapore’s No-Fly-Zones map or a handy infographic. Some places need permits to fly and some cities also have by-laws where you just can’t fly anywhere in it!
E. Micro-Planning Your Shoot (Sun Direction, Weather, Crowd)
It is ideal to plan when and where you will fly your drone. The sun moves around quite a bit, and you don’t want to be taking pictures of a cool building with the sun right behind it. Your flight itinerary may also depend on which days will have a forecast of rain/lightning. Flying on weekdays may give you fewer people to worry about but then more cars on the roads if shooting a city setting. you can use Google Earth or Google Maps to help with these.
Have you ever driven to the perfect spot with perfectly clear skies only to realize your Remote Control hasn’t been charged? OCD can be pretty useful here to ensure you’ve fully charged your drone, RC, goggles and phone/tablet. Also, keep in mind that some countries won’t have a 3-prong wall outlet and that a few remote islands have no electricity. Power banks are a must.
B. Snacks and Hydration
Stressing out about crashing your drone makes you hungry. Stressing out about your family wanting to leave you behind makes you thirsty. We don’t recommend alcohol use prior to drone flight, but do eat and drink whenever you can!
C. Wind and Weather Forecast
As drones are normally flown outdoors, We recommend looking into a few weather sites before leaving your resort’s room. Strong winds on elevated ground and ocean beachfront can be pretty scary. DJI’s drone tech is excessively good at stabilizing but we all prefer taking fewer risks, right? If you’ve had your drone drift away, you know how it feels!
If you’re into vlogging or have seen the top Youtube vloggers, they incorporate a lot of supplemental footage to immerse the viewers in your specific location. This is both resource-dependent (get your spouse to film you, you’ll need an extra camera or two) and time-dependent (preparing gear and setting up tripods/Ronin stabilizers). It can make for some awesome storytelling, however! To give examples: get shots of leaving your room, taking the transit and getting off, walking to drone flight location, setting up and turning on your drone, initial flight and hand-catching your drone. If interested, Youtuber Peter McKinnon is a master of B-roll.
A. Don’t Force It!
Drones may be worth every penny, but they are still pretty expensive for lay people. Cities have a lot of interference especially when your drone is closer to the ground and will screw up your drone’s positioning systems. Before flying or even while low hovering, always checks the IMU and Compass Sensors state on the DJI Go App. Fog can also freeze up your propellers and there’s also very cold weather chewing up your battery life. So, let your drone live to fly another day when unfavourable conditions are present.
B. ND Filters and Recommended Settings
Sunlight will almost always be our main source of light and ND filters are a must. There are a boatload of Youtube tutorials with the usual video settings (1/60 shutter, 100-400 ISO, etc.) For drone movement settings, use this quick and easy guide and hope you find it helpful too!
Now, this won’t be a legit guide at all if we didn’t mention the dreadful “S”-word. There’s bystanders, birds, buildings, branches, balloons, bunnies and all sorts of crazies we all need to consider before lifting off. Some people are generally curious about drones – feel free to share your love for drones with them. On the other hand, be respectful to those who are disinterested.
Fly and Shoot
A. Do a 360
We suggest getting to the highest legal altitude then panning/yawing your drone to a full circle and see everything. there’s that huge skyscraper or teal lake in front of you, but you may be missing out on another epic landscape right behind you. If you’re doing a video of just one spot, it helps viewers immerse themselves better with some B-roll-like stuff and they won’t get bored with the same view.
B. Take Multiple Takes
At night, you’d rather go through a few of the same pictures than have what you thought was the perfect one but with photobombers. Your second picture may have fewer cars/traffic on the road or your first one wasn’t really focused correctly. Try a variety of drone moves when filming as it might be the better choice when editing time comes. Clouds can also get pretty annoying, especially for smaller drones with less low-light capability so take a few shots with different settings.
C. Flyable Space Limits
Travelling means you will have a huge variety of “flyable” space which you can make the most of. A sandy beach or cliff will give you a lot of open space to play with so move your drone directionally as much as you can. For tighter moving areas, you can still shoot cinematic by flying vertically or hovering combined with pan/yaw and some camera gimbal movement.
D. Framing and Details
Framing a shot is crucial for any photo/video to stand above the rest. When shooting people and vehicles, you don’t want to be too high from the ground as they will look like ants and miniature toys. A huge temple may be shot from afar and symmetrically in the centre of the frame. With photography, portrait shots can make that huge impact you were going for (pretty please don’t portrait shoot a video!). And as for video, a top-down shot will almost always look amazing! If you already have a story and sequence in mind, framing each scene will definitely help to deliver that story to your viewers.
E. Think of Post-Production
A lot, if not most, of good photo/video composers, think of the editing stage while they are capturing. Are you doing a quick montage of 40 clips for a 10-second intro or a long scenic landscape for those 10 seconds with a Title? Will you use a luma transition between these two clips or whip quickly from a sunlit to sunset shot? What fancy Photoshop/Lightroom-ing will you do once you’ve taken these multiple photos? Thinking of these will save you both time and storage space in the long run.
ULTIMATE FINAL TRAVEL TIP
Please do not sell your drone if you run out of money and max out your credit card while travelling.