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How do you edit drone footage?

How do you edit drone footage?

Here’s how you learn to edit drone footage.

Drone footage is almost the same as any other footage except that it could be in 4K and each clip is likely to be quite long. The file types might also cause you some headaches. You will most likely be filming in an H.264 codec which most computers can handle. There are a number of softwares available for editing video. These range from free to expensive.

If your drone produces H.265 footage you will find it harder to edit as this requires a faster computer. The modern M1 chip Macs can however handle H.265 with ease.

Your best option is to shoot in H.264.

H.265 logo

What is the best free editing software for drone footage?

I have found the best free software to be either the standard iMovie available on all Macs or the Davinci Resolve free version that is available for both Windows and Mac. iMovie is far simpler and intuitive for beginners. Davinci offers a far higher level of professionalism and if you choose to learn it, it will give you great insight into the world of Non Linear Editing (NLE).

You can download the latest free version of Davinci Resolve here.

Davinci resolve Logo
An absolute powerhouse of software. Davinci Resolve is free and if you take the time to learn it, a gateway to professional level NLE software.
imovie logo
Simple, intuitive and free with every Mac computer

How do you edit Drone Footage in Premiere Pro?

Much the same way as you would edit footage from any camera. If you are interested in Premiere Pro specifically there are a multitude of tutorial videos on YouTube on the subject.

Premiere Pro Logo

What is the best way to edit drone footage?

The only way to edit drone footage is to use the most interesting parts of your footage and don’t let each clip go on for too long. Edit your clips to maintain your audiences interest. Don’t use a clip just because you struggled to fly that day and it holds more of an emotional attachment. Use clips that are good because they look good and are interesting.

How to colour grade drone footage?

The Mini 2 and 3 and most other consumer drones can be set up to record an automated already graded footage and this looks pretty decent straight off the card. However if your drone is recording with a LOG curve you need to grade it to bring out the best in it. Ensure the White Balance is set for the conditions. 

Generally, increase the contrast and saturation and lower the blacks. A general rule of thumb is to grade it, then leave it for 5 minutes. Come back and look at it again. If on first look it doesn’t look right then adjust and repeat. Our eyes can trick us so returning to footage and giving it fresh appraisal is a good way to avoid being too close to see it for what it is.

Ungraded LOG drone footage
Ungraded LOG footage looks flat and dull
Graded Drone Footage
Graded Drone LOG footage. Full of colour and contrast.

Best LUTs for Drone Footage?

Personally I don’t use LUTs, I’ve tried numerous offerings from DJI and Premiere and so called experts who advocate their bundles…It really is a personal choice. Try it out and keep experimenting to see what looks good for you.

How do you select/add music/audio to a drone video?

I find my music from a variety of sources. If you are editing for personal use without any distribution, find whatever music you have in your collection you like. If however you want to upload the edit to YouTube or use it commercially then you need a royalty free music source.

Recently I started using for ease of use music tracks. It’s a subscription service so my advice would be to pay for a month, then download as many as you can in that month and stockpile them for future use. They have specific categories that fit with specific moods including one for Drones.

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