6 Aerial Videography Tips for Success in High-Intensity Settings

By / May 18, 2018 / Video Production, Videography & Photography Blog Archives

Yes, flying in a helicopter over New York City with the door off was a check off the old bucket list.

But it also resulted in a combination of feelings and emotions, most notably, fear, nervousness, and even the thought of “Why didn’t I just stick to writing promos?”

However, looking past the nerves and dealing with the excitement, I was able to realize I still needed to get a job done (i.e. grabbing the specific shots needed). And to remember that and focus on the task at hand is paramount.

It’s easy to get caught up in all of it. But, as a videographer, it’s your job not to.

Person taking pictures from the inside of a helicopter

Use these simple aerial videography tips to make the most of your opportunities in high-pressure situations and get the best shots possible:


Make A Detailed Equipment List

Seems silly, but many times people don’t put enough time into pre-production, or basically before you hit record. The last thing you want to do is forget that extra card or lens you needed for one particular shot. If you’ve got the room, pack extra. You never know what might come up and you need a specific piece of equipment for it. A detailed equipment checklist helps with that.

Clean and Prepare Your Gear Ahead of Time

In high-adrenaline situations, it all happens in a blur, so make sure your shot isn’t ruined by basic things like a dirty lens or dead battery. Prepare, charge and clean each piece of equipment list you’ll be using, so you’re ready to capture the best possible image.

It’s also a good idea to bring extra storage and cards. Shooting 4K or RAW images take up a ton of space quick. Be sure to have the ability to dump cards and backup your media. A great storage solution for the price is the Seagate Backup Plus Slim.

Follow Your Shot List

No matter what you’re shooting, it’s important to know your shot list like the back of your hand.

So, when you’re holding two lenses strapped between your legs while making sure your shot is in focus – as the helicopter makes a sharp turn to get the hero chopper in the frame – you don’t miss the opportunity for a great shot.

As for changing out cards as they fill up mid-flight, you’re on your own. It’s not something you get to practice much. Luckily, I don’t think there’s ever been an injury by “fallen SD card” down below on the streets, but don’t quote me on that. Losing the footage is definitely a possibility, so always be careful when changing cards.

Stick to the Plan

This doesn’t just apply to extreme situations like shooting video in a helicopter, but pre-production and familiarizing yourself with the goals of the shoot are imperative, no matter how simple the shoot may seem.

To use a baseball analogy, there are always curveballs thrown at you that as a videographer you need to deal with. You don’t have to hit all of them out of the park, but ideally, you want to put them in play.

Enjoy the Thrill, But Remain Focused & Calm

I’ll speak from my experience flying with a helicopter charter company in New York City, it’s very easy for your nerves to get the best of you in a similar situation. They can also get the best of you if you’re on a big shoot for a new client, or working with someone you’ve dreamed of working with. In either of those situations, the best advice to give is just breath. Focus on the task at hand. Do what you do best.

One week prior to our flight there was a tragic crash in the East River involving a chartered photography flight. That obviously added fear and nerves to my situation, but in the moment, you have to trust the powers that be and zone in on the goal. Enjoy the thrills; remain calm; just breath.

Put it to Work

Using these aerial videography tips in action for your next high-intensity shoot will make a great difference in your final product.

The beauty of the photography and videography industry is that it can literally take you anywhere and offer you, the shooter, opportunities you’d have never imagined. Boiled down, it’s just another shoot and it’s important to treat it the same way every time.

Know your shots, how to execute them, and when the curveball is dealt — at least put it in play.

Close up shot of man wearing Bose headphones looking out a helicopter windshield