Propellers are the thumbs in your vacation photos

One of the most common issues with beginner drone videos is the  appearance of propellers, landing gear, and other parts of the drone sneaking into the frame.

Flying forward too fast or even just trying to hover with a strong headwind can cause propellers to sneak into frame and become a distraction

Whenever I see propellers in videos I think about point and shoot cameras and how people get their thumb or finger in the corner of their vacation photos.  In this lesson we’ll talk about the most common cause of the “thumb” problem in aerial imaging – propellers at the top of your video  caused by flying forward too aggressively.

One of the easiest things you can do to eliminate this issue is to adjust the way you fly your drone.  Today we’ll discuss a couple ways to avoid this problem in the field while you’re planning and executing your flight.

Camera Position

Most drones have a camera that is mounted using a gimbal to keep the image stable in relation to the horizon.  One solution, whether your drone has a gimbal or fixed mount, is to angle your camera down toward the ground until the propellers are no longer in the frame.  In fact, for many shots when you want to track a subject on the ground, you can point the camera 45 to 90 degrees down and get a unique aerial shot without having to worry about props being a distraction.

Flying Techniques

It can be a blast pushing your drone to its limits by going fast, stopping abruptly, and banking hard around corners.  In fact, there are many occasions when I’ll just turn the camera off and fly for the pure enjoyment of flying.  However, when you’re flying for the purpose of capturing scenic video,  taking things slow and steady will give you better results in most situations.  When you fly forward too fast your gimbal keeps your camera pointed at the horizon while the drone tilts forward and drops those props into your shot.  Sometimes, if you have a headwind, there is nothing you can do to avoid getting propellers in your horizon shot when flying forward.

Another trick you can try in those situations where forward video is your objective but the wind and your props aren’t cooperating is to fly backward and reverse the footage later in post production.  Of course this technique won’t be practical when you have people or other moving objects in your scene, but for landscape scenes and other static subjects it works great.

Flying in Reverse

In this lesson we covered a few tips for creating cleaner footage by removing propellers from your shots.  Now, get outside and practice these techniques and remember to tag your homework with #DroneFilmSchool for the chance to be featured on the Honor Roll.

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