How to Make Your Drone Videos Look More Cinematic

Using your drone to shoot aerial videos can make for some really cool footage, but it often comes out looking rough and amateurish. So, how do you get it to have that cinematic feel? There are plenty of things you can do to get better quality footage without upgrading all of your equipment. Here are some of the ways to give your drone videos a more professional, cinematic style.

Film at The Right Time of Day

Filming at sunrise or sunset will help make your drone footage look much better than it would during other times of the day. This is known as shooting at the “Golden Hour,” and it’s the time preferred by most professional drone videographers. Your camera won’t be bombarded with bright light, allowing the lens to capture crisp, clear footage. As an added bonus, being able to see the sun as it breaches or dips below the horizon and sets the sky ablaze in color will make your shots look incredible.

Use a Digital Zoom

While you’re editing your drone videos, you can use digital zoom to enhance your shots for a more interesting presentation. A slow zoom that tightens in on your subject gradually will make the viewer subconsciously more focused on it. You can also digitally zoom out while your drone is moving towards your subject, creating the effect that the background is expanding as your subject gets closer to the camera.

Color Match and Color Grade Your Footage

If you want your drone videos to look cinematic, you need to make sure the color remains consistent in all shots. You can also set a particular mood for your footage by using color grading. For example, you can add more blue to give your video a colder ambiance or increase the levels of orange and yellow for a summery feel. A great suggestion from is to use LUT presets when editing for a more dynamic color grading style. This can make your footage look vibrant and cinematic without having to perform the time-consuming task of color grading your footage manually.

Keep Your Drone Low

When recording your videos, you might be tempted to take your drone up as high as you can to capture as much of the landscape as possible. But it’s actually better to fly closer to the ground if you’re trying to make your footage look cinematic. You’ll be able to see the features of the terrain and other objects better while also getting a clearer sense of scale.

Fly Slower

Don’t fly your drone too fast when capturing footage. Taking it slow will allow you to get nice, smooth shots that’ll have a cinematic quality. It’s especially important to fly slowly when panning across and rotating around your subjects, so you don’t end up with footage that looks too choppy or rushed. This can give your videos the same grandiose quality as those big, epic shots from blockbuster films.

Speed Up Footage During Editing

While you don’t want to move too fast with your drone while capturing footage, there are times where the shots can seem to drag. Speed them up while editing so your videos have better pacing between slower shots of specific subjects and general landscape flyover shots.

Use an ND Filter

An ND filter, or a neutral-density filter, will allow you to set your camera’s shutter speed at about double your frame rate. Since the industry standard for frame rate is 24 fps, you’ll want to set your shutter speed at 1/48 or 1/50. An ND filter will smooth out the choppiness you can get when shooting drone footage and gives it a bit of motion blur, and it’ll also keep your camera’s exposure consistent when lighting conditions change. This will help give your drone footage a more cinematic appearance.

Add Cinematic Black Bars to Your Footage

An easy way to make your drone videos look more cinematic is by simply adding horizontal black bars at the top and bottom of your footage. Most films have these due to being shot in a wider aspect ratio than a typical television screen, even the newer widescreen sets. People associate those bars with movies, so seeing them immediately makes them feel like what they’re seeing is something cinematic.

Drones have made it possible to film breathtaking footage from vantage points humans rarely get to see. They certainly enhance the experience and make even the most basic videos look like they’re taken straight out of a movie. So, use these great tips to make your footage look more cinematic and shoot the best drone videos possible.

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