One of the most popular styles of the video is the drone Time-lapse. They are easy to make and the results are almost always promising if you do it correctly. If you’ve made any time lapses before with any camera that’s at your disposal then you already have a good starting point for making one with your drone. In this article, we will go from pre-flight all the way to post-production using Final Cut Pro to give you the tips that you need to nail your drone time lapse every time.
4 Steps for correct settings for Drone Time Lapse
Step 1 - Choose the object.
The first very important tip here is to think of your subject. Usually, this could take a couple of days. You must have a clear idea of the subject you will shoot. For example, you want to shoot some Traffic. You have to think about all possible positions – of you and your drone. If you choose the correct object and time to shoot, it may become really cool especially adding on some stabilization at the end it made it look very solid. You can pick up moving water clouds across the sky sunsets, sunrise and also again moving traffic. All of which you can get really cool perspectives using your drone. One smart thing we want to mention about filming clouds that if you go up high enough and actually tell your camera downwards and you have this on at just the correct angle, you’ll notice that you can see the clouds moving in the sky as well as their shadow down on the ground moving across like the trees or whatever again is on the ground. This looks absolutely awesome and cannot be replicated with any tripod on the ground.
Step 2 - Pre-flight procedures
Make sure the drone battery is fully charged, check the propellers and everything else because your drone is going to be up in the air for well over 20 minutes and you want to make sure everything goes smoothly. Making Drone time lapse needs time.
Step 3 - Set up your camera settings
Once the drone is powered on you’re going through all of your pre-flight procedures and you’re ready to take off. Make sure that all the camera settings are set and in place just so that you’re not wasting battery time with the motor spinning up in the air. When actually filming your time-lapses you can shoot in video mode or photo mode. Our advice is to shoot in video mode. Sure general rules to follow when shooting in video mode or photo mode is to turn on manual exposure as well as the manual focus. Not manual exposure we’ll make sure that your camera settings are always the same throughout your shooting. And also with manual focus, you won’t have that annoying pulsating focus here and there whether you’re in photo or video mode.
Now let’s take a look at the optimal camera settings that we should be used on when filming a drone time lapse. ( For this article just for reference up using the Phantom 4 Pro).
Video Settings for drone Time Lapse
Into the application now getting into the camera settings the first screen – we have is our exposure settings. We recommend being on manual as this will give you the best result and from here set the ISO aperture and shutter speed accordingly depending on what the Sun is like outside. The next tab that we have gives us a few more changes, first of all, is our video size. We recommend shooting in 4k as this gives us the most room to play with in post and for the frame rate we recommend 30fps. As usually when speeding up footage we won’t need at 60fps it really won’t benefit us. Next, we have our video format. This all depends on whichever computer you’re using to edit. MP4 is for PCs and MOV just works the best with Macs. Next up let’s see we have NTSC and PAL- this all depends on where you’re going to be flying your drills. So NTSC is for the United States people – those living in the States and PAL is used for those living overseas in Europe. Next up we have our White Balance- this is all dependent on the weather outside. Color, Style and Camera video coding are with personal preferences. After that, on the next page, we have Histogram- you can set in On because this gives us a very accurate reading as far as what our exposure values will be.
Photo Settings for Drone Time Lapse
Our first screen gives us again all of those exposure options – the manual is the best but we would recommend shooting with a lower shutter speed. So going down to something around 30 or maybe even 40 gives you a certain kind of blur on moving objects giving you the feeling you’re actually watching a video. For the photo mode, choose time shot of two seconds so this will shoot in two-second intervals – every two seconds we’ll take a picture. Time-lapse image size -we recommend 16:9 as you are pretty much going to turn this into a video and this makes it already cropped to the size of a video. The Image format – we can choose RAW and JPEG. Choose JPEG because Raw sizes are larger and it’s impossible to import into a fight or a video editing software like Final Cut Pro. Again the Color, Style and Camera video coding are with personal preferences.
Step 4 - Take flight
First of all, always keep your eye on the drone, be sure that you have that visual line of sight. But more importantly, don’t just send the drone up start seeing pictures or video or whatever and then just walk away. That is the last thing you want to do as you want to make sure there are no planes nearby and also no birds flying around as your drone is just sitting there as very vulnerable. Be careful of those two things – plane and birds. Next up – hands off of the sticks. Be sure to make no movements on the sticks or the gimbal as it could totally ruin your whole entire time-lapse. Next tip is flying as much as possible. The most footage as possible as. You can make a longer time-lapse and if you only take a video for five minutes your time that’s it’s going to come out choppy if you’re taking photos especially. Make sure you fly it for the most amount of time that’s possible. Next tip – filming from far away. This will give you the best results and the most stable footage. 200 feet is pretty much like that perfect length. The final tip is to avoid the Wind. The wind is your biggest enemy when filming a time-lapse as you want to get the most stable footage possible. Now, of course, you can’t fully avoid wind but maybe check on your app like on your weather app or maybe a drone app what the wind is like in your area when you’re shooting. After you finish your Time-lapse in after production stage, you may add some appropriate music like one final touch and you can enjoy your time-lapse.