Updated: Aug 13, 2020
Hey everyone! In this post we are going to talk about the best and most efficient way I’ve found to do Real Estate Drone video and photo shoots. After doing many many drone shoots over the years, I’ve developed an approach that gets you in and out quick and with great results. In this post we are going to get into the settings I use for shooting both aerial photos and videos and the method I use to approach each shoot. Also, it is important to note that if you are going to be doing drone shoots commercially like we are discussing here, you must get your FAA part 107 certification and it is highly recommended that you acquire insurance to protect yourself from any accidents.
So my drone of choice these days is the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. I assume most of you out there are using some sort of DJI drone as they are the biggest player in the game pretty much so these settings should work for most of you. If you are just getting into drone photography, I highly recommend the Mavic 2 Pro by the way. It’s compact, performs very well and provides great quality images. If you are interested in purchasing, please consider using this link as it will help support this site and the creation of future helpful content: https://amzn.to/3gAD6LM So without further ado, lets go into the settings.
Aperture priority @ f/4
Aperture priority @ f/4
1920 x 1080
30fps (to slow down slightly in post to 24fps)
For a more detailed look at how I set these setting in the DJI GO App, please see the video posted above.
Shoot Run Through
The following explanation of how I approach a drone shoot is a sort of formula I’ve developed over the years and is designed to make the most efficient use of your time on site and also to cover all the bases as far as viewpoints and angles so you have a happy client. If you are someone who is just getting into drone shoots or even if you’ve been doing them for a while now hopefully this will help you streamline your operation and save you some valuable time. If you’re like me, you probably have another shoot to get to and time is money.
So how I approach a drone shoot is typically working from the ground up. I do most of my low level shots first, then my medium height shots and then my full height shots. Sort of like an upside down wedding cake if you can picture that. The following will be a description of a combo video/photo drone shoot. I use the same basic approach if it’s just a photo shoot.
So to start I get a few low level video shots of the front and/or the front entrance of the house. I don’t usually take any photos at this level because the traditional ground level photos I’m taking with my camera and tripod cover this already. If you are comfortable with it, you will probably need to disable the vision sensors because you will probably be flying pretty close to stuff and they will be going nuts! Truth be told, I just keep the sensors off always but I wouldn’t recommend that until you’ve been flying a while and you are very confident in what you are doing.
Also here is a big tip when doing these low level shots: Tripod Mode. If you’re not familiar, Tripod Mode desensitizes the sticks on the remote making your movements less jerky. When you are in this mode you can basically jam on the stick and the drone will react gradually instead of quickly. You can adjust the sensitivity in the app to suit your purposes. I LOVE Tripod Mode and it comes in handy especially for these type of shots.
After the front low level shots, I take the drone just a little above the house and off slightly to the left (the height being somewhere in the 25-50 foot range depending on how big the house is). Once there I snap a photo. I then move and center the house as best I can to get a straight on shot. After that I move off slightly to the right and get a third angle there. Once I get photos of those 3 angles I switch over to video mode and do a sweep across the front at that height.
At that same height, I swing the drone around the back of the house and snap a photo slightly off to the right and then slightly off to the left. I typically don’t get a shot straight on of the back of the house. After that, I do another video sweep of the back.
Following that, I take the drone up to the medium level which really can be anywhere from like 150ft to 300ft. The goal here is to capture the entire property line so the height greatly depends on how big the property is. In front of the property, I get photos of those same 3 angles we did at the lower height; slightly off left, center and off to the right. Again, I do a video sweep. Same goes for the back of the property.
After that, I bring the drone down in height a bit and position it in front of the house. We are going to a video pull away shot here so make sure you are at a safe height and there are no obstacles that you may hit as you pull away. Hit record for video and press back and up on the joy sticks and do a rising pull away shot from the house ending in a great surrounding view of the area. These shots are a great way to end your drone videos as you can see in the final edited version of the video in the video posted above.
If you’re not at the full 400 foot height already yet after completing that move, proceed to max height. The purpose of these shots is to show what the neighborhood and surrounding area is like around the property and also any geographical features like proximity to water. I then position myself off to the left of the property and take a photo. Since the distance is pretty long between this point and my next I switch over to video and record from this position to my next which is off to the right of the property. Once there I stop recording and take another photo.
When that is done, I hit record again and do an approach video shot toward the house. As I am approaching, I am descending in height and tilting the gimbal down if necessary to try to keep the property centered in the frame the whole time. This is great to use for your opening shot in the beginning of your edited video.
I then move off to the rear of the property off to the left, ascend back to full height and take a photo there. Again, I hit record on video and record my movement until I’m off to the right of the property. Once there, I take another photo. Now we have opposing angles looking off into the distance from almost every perspective front and back.
Now is when I descend the drone and walk around to the back of the house. I finish the shoot by doing any low level photos and videos of any features of the backyard such as pools, decks or things of that nature. Again, Tripod Mode is your friend here, making your movements buttery smooth.
So that about sums up my method of executing a drone shoot. Of course I may deviate from this here or there by throwing in a different type of shot depending on the situation.