• 07/08/2020

How to shoot cinematic drone images with the DJI Spark

How to shoot cinematic drone images with the DJI Spark

How to shoot cinematic drone images with the DJI Spark and captivate your audience. Top goal of every new drone flyer after mastering the basic flying skills.

How to shoot cinematic drone images with the DJI Spark

What makes video cinematic?

Before hitting the record button, its important to know what the footage will be used for. Is it footage that will end up on a television broadcast? Is it web content? How will it be edited? The first question to ask is “what should the frames per second (fps) be”? There are current industry standards being used that you will need to adhere to. The secret, is motion blur.

It’s one of those laws of nature you would be wise not to break. Video, film, moving images are still nothing more that a series of still images. To achieve the correct amount of motion blur to fool the human brain into seeing only fluid movement, the shutter needs to open at a certain angle to the fps the video/film is running at.

If the angle is not at the magic 180° you audience will subconsciously notice that something is not right & the viewing experience will be effected, though, they will not know why.

The rule of 180°

The secret of getting that buttery cinematic motion blur is the rule of 180° & it all starts with your frame rate. The advantage of using the DJI Spark is it is limited to shooting video at FHD: 1920×1080 30p. (the 30p tells us it shoots at 30fps).

At 30fps you want to have your shutter speed set an no more that 1/60th of a second. And YES, you need to get your camera video settings out of AUTO. The rule of 180° is:

  • The shutter speed (1/x sec) should be NO-MORE that Twice the frame rate (fps)

Therefore if flying a DJI MavicPro, filming video in 4k, 24fps then you shutter should be no faster than 1/48th second. If you were filming at 60fps, then the shutter should be no faster than 1/120 second. (Shutter speed x = 2xfps).

How to shoot cinematic drone images with the DJI Spark

Slow-motion tip

Normally your frame rate is driven by where the images will be shown. TV in the UK is broadcast 1080p 25fps, so shutter speed would be set at 1/50th second. However, if you think you will need to have slow-motion in your final edit, then you need to make sure you shoot at the right frame rate, which in turn effects the shutter speed.

If broadcast at 25fps video shot at 25fps, when you try and slow the image in adobe premiere pro, it becomes stilted losing the fluid blur you worked so hard to achieve. The answer is to increase the frame rate at the point of shooting. Try shooting at 60fps, then when edited and packaged at 25fps for tv, the slow-motion retains that buttery cinematic blur. Just make sure the shutter speed is adjusted to 1/120th second.

But what about exposure?

Good question! If you haven’t already, check out the ikopta image guide, which explains the exposure triangle. Shutter speed influences the exposure of the images you shoot. Slower the shutter speed means the more light hitting the sensor which could mean over exposure images.

So how to slow the shutter speed, but keep control of the exposure? Sunglasses for your lens, ND Filters. The range is improving by the week, but buyer beware.

Ikopta tried a range sent through by Freewell. Looked good in the box, and performed well enough on the image test. The big problem was the attaching them to the gimbal of the DJI Spark drone was cumbersome at best, but near on impossible in the field. For this reason, one to avoid in their present form.


Use a little help?

PolarPro have a great range of filters, not only for DJI Drones, but for other action camera platforms. They have developed this amazing ND filter selection app, a must for any drone flyers or film makers. Perfect for filter selection, weather, KP index & golden hour planning. Full detail can be found HERE.

Above all, have fun & fly safe.

Related post