Los Altos Real Estate Blog


What Are The Best Videos To Shoot With A Drone?

There's a lot of buzz on drone video and how to use it.  Most of the videos seen making the rounds are focused on large properties with plenty of space to fly around.  While it's fun and impressive to take an aerial video of a large estate, there is so much more you can do that applies even to the average home.


Replacing Dolly Shots and Jibs

When you hire a videographer they'll often set up what's called a "dolly shot".  This is where the video camera is mounted on a track so it can move side-to-side or front-to-back.  The resulting shot, for example, takes the viewer from the left side of a great room to the right side with a consistent perspective. This is different than a "pan shot" which is the same sort of side-to-side motion except that the camera is mounted on a tripod.

Another common cinamatography staple is the use of jibs or cranes.  The are long "arms" with the camera mounted at the end so you can do things like fly over the surface of a pool approaching the back patio.  You could use the same technique to take a shot of a large room with high ceilings going from eye-level to a higher point to capture the perspective of the room.  That same technique could be used to capture the exterior of the home to get perspective of lot placement and size.

Both these techniques can be replaced with a drone.


Advanced Flying Technique

To replace these techniques with a drone is very easy, for an experienced pilot. For starters, you'll need a drone with a gimbal and high-resolution HD camera (GoPro is fine).  These will ensure the video is smooth and high quality.

  • The technique to replace the dolly shots is simple enough:
  • Place the drone well before where you want the actual video to begin
  • Start the drone flight and hover low to allow it to stabilize
  • Reduce the flying height to 18-24 inches off the ground (for pool flyover
  • or start the flying heigh at eye-level (5 feet is fine)
  • Fly the drone in the direction you want the video to be (forward or left-to-right is most common)
  • End the flight after where you want the actual video to end
  • Land

The point of starting the video flight before and after where you actually want the recording to take place is that you'll be able to edit out the start and finish of the flight.  Trying to get "the perfect shot" from start to finish is not realistic.

A good drone (e.g. DJI Phantom 2) will fly at level without pilot intervention so all you have to do is move the joystick so it moves in the direction you want.  The only issue with reduced fly heights is the force of air from the motors if you get too close to the ground.  Make sure there is nothing around the sides of the drone so the air blast has someplace to go.

To extend these shots into something called an "arc shot" requires more piloting skill.  This is because you'll still go left-to-right but do so in an arc while the camera focuses on a particular centerpoint or subject.  This can be great to highlight a particular feature of the property.  Plan on spending a lot of time practicing this flight but when you do, it'll take just a few minutes to take images with the drone that could take hours to set up with traditional equipment.

More Top Drone Shots:

  • Ground level approach (fly over yard, pool, etc toward house)
  • Neighborhood approach (fly down street to home)
  • View perspective shot (from home to view)
  • Yard arc shot (sweep yard from side-to-side)
  • Indoor high-ceiling room perspective
  • Long/deep house fly through


All of these add more interesting and dramatic perspectives that take little time to arrange.  When intergrated with traditional video shots and angles, your marketing will really pop.

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 Bryan Robertson, CEO | T: 650.799.9951 | Email: bryan@catarra-re.com | Website: http://www.BryanRobertsonHomes.com |CA BRE# 01191946 | Catarra Real Estate, Inc  | 171 Main St #220 | Los Altos, CA 94022



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Comment balloon 12 commentsBryan Robertson • July 23 2014 08:25AM


Wow Bryan...You certainly know the Drone Photography Business, thanks for your insight and recommendations how to take the best video shots with a drone.

Cheers, Have a fun and successful day!

Posted by Fred Carver Personal Real Estate Corporation, Accredited Real Estate Consultant (RE/MAX Camosun Victoria BC Real Estate) over 4 years ago

Thanks for sharing the knowledge Bryan.  Suggested!

Posted by John McCormack, CRS, Honesty, Integrity, Results, Experienced. HIRE Me! (Albuquerque Homes Realty) over 4 years ago

I would love to find someone to shoot a video of the Hudson Valley for me. Drones are a cool way of marketing for sure!

Posted by Janis Borgueta, LIC RE Salesperson (Key Properties of the Hudson Valley ) over 4 years ago

Good advice on this marketing technique that many folks are still trying to figure out.  Great ideas here.

Posted by John Meussner, #MortgageMadeEasy Walnut Creek, CA 484-680-4852 (Mason-McDuffie Mortgage, Conventional Loans, Jumbo Loans, FHA, 203(k), USDA, VA,) over 4 years ago

Bryan - Great video shooting tips if you're using a drone and how to get the most out of them for real estate marketing!

Posted by Laura Allen, Lake Tahoe - Truckee Real Estate for Sale TahoeLauraRealEstate.com, Tahoe Real Estate Agent Helping Buyers and Sellers (Coldwell Banker, Tahoe City, CA (530) 414-1260) over 4 years ago

Great post indeed. Feature button hit on this one. Have a blessed day 

Posted by Laura Filip, What can we do for you today? (Laura Filip Broker , Opening doors for All Seasons of Life ) over 4 years ago

great post! thank you for sharing that info... I'm still trying to figure out if its now legal to film/shoot utilizing drone technology since the FAA expressed that they were not too happy with drones flying around "unregulated."

Posted by Nelson Carrillo, South San Diego, CA Homes For Sale (McMillin Realty - Phone: (619) 940-6560) over 4 years ago

Great information Bryan about drones, I had my photographer use one for the first time in a photo shoot last week. Still learning about them.

Posted by Sharon Paxson, Newport Beach Real Estate (Compass) over 4 years ago

Add the sky cam and weave into your video productions. Go easy on the new toy or it works the other way and flit happens. Or need for Dramamine. In town videos with the go pro lifted skyward can make it seem smaller lot, crowded.  Find works better with water, acreage.

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) over 4 years ago

Sounds like you might be the go-to expert when it comes to shooting videos with a drone. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Troy Erickson AZ Realtor (602) 295-6807, Your Chandler, Ahwatukee, and East Valley Realtor (Good Company Real Estate www.ChandlerRealEstate.weebly.com) over 4 years ago

Bryan, Thanks for posting this and I like your ideas you listed for creative drone uses.

Posted by Sam Miller, Knox County Ohio Real Estate Specialist (RE/MAX Stars Realty) over 4 years ago

Drone photography is especially effective for properties with acreage and other features that are hard to appreciate with pictures from the ground level only.

Posted by Dave Halpern, Louisville Short Sale Expert (Keller Williams Realty Louisville East (502) 664-7827) over 1 year ago

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