Film & video

The Best Types of Shots You can Take with a Drone

Director of photography Yeray Martín Perdomo shows you how to film outdoors with a drone

A drone allows you to capture scenes that would be impossible or extremely costly to film using traditional methods. They can be used both indoors and outdoors to achieve stunning sequences and tell engaging stories.

Yeray Martín Perdomo (@yeray_martin_perdomo), director of photography and filmmaker, has used them in more than 50 countries to approach remote tribes, jungles, and volcanoes. Here, he will explain the type of shots you can take when flying a drone outdoors and when it is best to use them.

Wide Shot

A shot that gives you a general overview of a specific area. The movement has to be very linear and smooth. You do not want it to be static, but it is convenient to move very slowly because it will always be easier to accelerate a sequence than to slow it down.

Yeray Martín Perdomo
Yeray Martín Perdomo

General Shot

Similar to the previous one, but focused on a smaller area in which the camera movement is more noticeable.

Yeray Martín Perdomo
Yeray Martín Perdomo

Tracking Shot

This type of shot always looks great if it's done correctly. Basically, you follow the movement of a person or vehicle. The tricky part is matching the speed of the subject you are focusing on. A good way to coordinate is to use a hands-free phone call with the subject while filming.

As you gain expertise, you can also start playing with the tilt of the camera to get shots that look like they were shot from a helicopter. If you want to record vehicles moving at high speed, make sure to activate the sport mode on the drone.

Yeray Martín Perdomo
Yeray Martín Perdomo

Crane Shot

This shot creates a stunning visual effect and breaks with the more static classic shots that are possible with a normal camera. Play with both the movement of the drone and the tilt of the camera, always keeping the subject centered, to make it look as though it was shot from a filming crane.

Tilt Shot

A very similar shot to the crane shot but you adjust the tilt of the camera while moving the drone along a horizontal plane instead of a vertical one. This generates deforms the background in a way that achieves a mesmerizing effect.

Yeray Martín Perdomo
Yeray Martín Perdomo

Traveling

A classic shooting technique, traveling is a continuous, lateral, or frontal camera movement. It is a good technique to use inside a forest or when following a river. The good thing about using a drone is that you can also sustain this type of shot over long distances.

Yeray Martín Perdomo
Yeray Martín Perdomo

Horizontal Panning

Easy shooting style: keep the drone static in both height and position and just rotate the camera. A good shot to show surroundings, but it can be a bit dull.

Circular Shot

In this shot, you move the drone around the subject counterclockwise while rotating the camera clockwise. This makes the subject stay centered on the frame while the camera rotates around it.

Yeray Martín Perdomo
Yeray Martín Perdomo

Impossible Shot

These are tricky, but the audience will love them. As the name implies is a shot that looks almost impossible to make, shots where you move the drone through holes and narrow openings. It requires knowing how to handle the drone precisely and it is always a good idea, at first, to be behind the drone to make sure it will fit through or around the different obstacles.

Yeray Martín Perdomo
Yeray Martín Perdomo

Mixed Shot

Most of the shots we have covered here require using two or three fingers for panning and moving the drone. When you start feeling more confident, you can combine them to achieve more surprising effects. You'll have to learn how to use and coordinate four fingers on the controls simultaneously.

Yeray Martín Perdomo
Yeray Martín Perdomo

If you want to learn more tricks and filming techniques with drones, check out Yeray Martín Perdomo’s online course: Filming with Drones for Audiovisual Projects.

You may also like:

- The First Special Effects: From Méliès to Marvel
- What Does Each Color Mean in Cinema?
- Introduction to Aerial Photography with Drones, a course by Santiago Arau Pontones

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