10 epic and cinematic drone moves you need to learn for filming yourself

Feb 7, 2022

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

10 epic and cinematic drone moves you need to learn for filming yourself

Feb 7, 2022

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Filming yourself with a drone has always been challenging, although it is getting a little easier with the automated flight modes available now, even on entry-level drones like the DJI Mini 2 and Autel Evo Nano (first impressions here). But if you want to break out of the automated flight modes and shoot something that’s a little more creative, interesting and that helps you to tell your story, what can you do?

Well, in this video, Irish drone and smartphone filmmaker Mattheww Brennan has posted his 10 top drone moves for filming yourself and making the footage look pretty awesome. Some of these moves are quite simple to do but others will require some learning and experimentation to really pull them off well.

A couple of the moves in this video are ones we see quite regularly, but they either fit into the video or story so well that we just don’t really notice or it just doesn’t seem obvious exactly how it was filmed. But as Mattheww demonstrates, sometimes there’s a little editing trickery going on, too! There may also be a few here that you haven’t seen before, too.

  • 0:58 – The Top Down
  • 1:28 – The Track
  • 1:58 – The Circle
  • 2:30 – Reverse Track
  • 3:00 – Tilt Up Reveal
  • 3:32 – The Dolly Zoom
  • 4:11 – Walk-In Reveal
  • 4:37 – The Whip Up
  • 5:28 – Leg Fly Through
  • 6:15 – The Wipe

The Top Down is one of my favourites and one that I love to do when I’m in some nice location with an interesting ground surface. Every time I put a drone up in the air, the first thing I do is point the camera straight down just to see what it looks like. As I move to new areas, I’ll keep looking down occasionally until I see something that looks cool and interesting, especially if it looks easy to walk through the shot while manoeuvering the drone without hitting anything. There are a few examples of this in the sample clips video from my first impressions of the Autel Evo Nano.

The Track and Reverse Track are another couple of shots that I try to use whenever it’s safe to do so. The regular track with the drone flying behind you is great for open spaces, but you can also pull it off in other areas like dense woodland if you’ve got something with obstacle avoidance – like the aforementioned Autel Evo Nano. The DJI Mini 2 and Mini SE don’t have obstacle avoidance. For that, you’ll need to hop up to the DJI Air series.

Reverse Track is a relative doddle by comparison, as Mattheww mentions, because you can actually keep an eye on your drone. Just be mindful of the faces you’re pulling while trying to concentrate on not crashing your drone into anything as it flies backwards.

At the end of the video, Mattheww edits his 10 clips together into a single cinematic sequence so you can see how it all comes together.

Have you tried any of these? What’s your favourite drone move for filming yourself?

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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