Drone Footage: How To Get and Use It?

By Matic Broz, editor-in-chief of Photutorial covering stock media, Adobe, and design. He founded Photutorial while finishing his PhD in computational biosciences.

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Drone footage can be a great addition to any video project—but how do you get it? And what are the best ways to use it? This blog post will look at how to get drone footage and some of the best ways to use it in your video projects.

What is Drone Footage?

Drone footage is a new type of aerial footage taken with a drone, also known as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). This type of footage provides a unique worldview and can be used for various purposes, including filming, news, and even security. You can also use it to create virtual tours of otherwise inaccessible locations.

The footage from the drone is easy to spot because of how the camera moves. Drones usually have more stable footage than helicopters because they are equipped with stabilizing gimbals.

They work with someone on the ground controlling the drone with a remote while the camera is attached to the drone. The best part about the drone is that it can fly low and slow, so you can get new views of familiar places, while planes cannot do that.

The following is an obvious example of a drone video:

The most distinctive feature of drone photography is the perspective it provides. Drones can fly at both very high (although they are usually not allowed above 400 feet) and low altitudes, giving you a bird’s-eye view of the world. This can be extremely useful for getting a unique angle on a particular location.

What is the difference between drone footage and aerial footage?

The main difference between drone footage and aerial footage is that drone footage is taken by a drone, while aerial footage is taken by an airplane or a helicopter. Consequently, drone shots are usually taken from a closer perspective and often give a more intimate feel than aerial shots.

For example, drone footage of a wedding ceremony can zoom into the couple standing close together. In contrast, aerial footage of the same event may show the guests and venue from a more distant perspective and capture the entire scene.

Why use drone footage in video editing?

When editing video, adding drone footage can help create a unique perspective that adds depth and interest to your final product. That’s because drone footage gives you a bird’s-eye view of the scene, which can be very useful for adding context to your video. You can also use the drone to capture shots that would otherwise be difficult or impossible, such as tall buildings or large landscapes.

There are numerous ways to use drone footage to create compelling and engaging videos. Drone footage can be used to montage different scenes or to create a video with a unique perspective. It can also add a sense of scale to your video or create a bird’s eye view video.

How To Get Drone Footage

There are three ways of getting drone footage, but they differ in price, required equipment and skill, and turnaround time.

Option 1: Take it yourself.

Creating the drone footage yourself is the most expensive and time-consuming option to get drone videos. Therefore, it’s not an efficient option for professional editors but more suitable for those who want to master drone videography as a hobby alongside video editing.

  • Cost: $1,000–$2,500 for a drone, $0.00–$5,000 to travel to the destination you want to shoot, and $20–$4,000 for drone videography courses.
  • Time required: 1 hour or several days to shoot the footage, up to 2 weeks to get to the destination (if it’s remote), and several years to master drone video skills.

Although you don’t have to pay for videos once you acquire the equipment and learn the skills, the overall cost is much higher than choosing one of the following alternatives.

Option 2: Hire a drone videographer.

Hiring a drone videographer is great when you need custom footage, such as a video of your premises, an event, or any other scene you cannot find online. It is also great when you have special requirements that preshot footage cannot fulfill.

However, hiring a drone videographer is not feasible if you’re on a low budget since freelancers charge from $50 to $200 per hour, while agencies charge $500+ for a video.

  • Cost: $50–$200/hour for a freelancer, $500+ for an agency.
  • Time required: from 24 hours to one week, depending on the scale of the project.

Regardless of the advantages of hiring a freelancer or an agency, it is not a good option when you need footage of something that cannot be shot at the moment. For example, a video of a winter scene during the summer or a shot from the Amazonian rainforest is out of the question.

Option 3: Use stock footage

Stock footage is the most versatile, convenient, and cheapest way to get drone videos. To get stock drone footage, you must go to one of the stock video sites, search for “drone” or “aerial”, and download a video you like.

Thanks to the low pricing and fast turnaround time, stock footage is the best for professional editors who need lots of videos, an extensive selection, and convenience.

  • Cost: $12–$50/month for unlimited videos or $5.00–$200/video.
  • Time required: 1–5 minutes to find a video, 0–3 minutes to buy it.

The main downside of stock footage is that it’s preshot and thus can not be personalized to your needs. Also, other video editors may use it, too, so your final cut might not be the only one showing that particular stock footage.

What Is The Best Place To Get Drone Stock Footage?

After years of analyzing stock photo and video sites, we found the best options. We ranked the best sources of drone stock footage based on the number and quality of videos, pricing, licensing, and additional features.

1. Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock is the most popular stock agency for graphic designers because it is integrated with Photoshop and Illustrator. For a similar reason, it’s also great for video editors, who can take advantage of Adobe Premiere integration with Adobe Stock, which allows you to browse and use videos without leaving the app.

  • Price: $7.99–$22.39 for HD video; $64.00–$199.80 for FHD and 4K video
  • Video count: 2.1M drone footage, 3M aerial videos
  • Resolution: HD, FHD, 4K
  • Free: 3 free HD videos during a 30-day trial, 4.6K completely free drone videos from the free collection

We recommend Adobe Stock to video editors who use Adobe Premiere and those who need videos with music and images, which can all be downloaded with a single affordable subscription.

Read more: Adobe Stock Pricing

2. Pond5

Pond5 is the largest stock footage marketplace, with 33 million clips in its collection. It is ranked below Adobe Stock because the subscriptions give you access to only a fraction of the videos.

At the same time, videos bought on demand can get very expensive ($1,000+), while the Extended license is also much more expensive than Adobe Stock.

  • Price: $8.32–$25 per video
  • Video count: 2.8M drone footage, 4.4M aerial videos
  • Resolution: SD, 2K, HD, FHD, 4K, 5K+
  • Free: Get up to a 25% discount on credits when you purchase them in bulk.

We recommend Pond5 when you need highly-specialized drone footage that you cannot find anywhere else. Based on the price set by the videographer, expect to pay anywhere between $8.32 and several thousand dollars.

3. Artgrid

Artgrid is a unique stock footage site with fewer videos than Adobe Stock or Pond5, which offer unlimited downloads for a fixed monthly fee.

It’s widely popular among YouTube and Twitch editors because the licensing allows you to use all videos on all platforms worldwide and is verified for YouTube monetization.

  • Price: $19.99–$49.92 per month
  • Video count: 250,000 in total
  • Resolution: HD, FHD, 4K, 8K, ProRes, DNxHR, RAW, and LOG clips, graded footage
  • Free: Save videos in a collection without a subscription, but you may not use any of them.

We recommend Artgrid if you need many downloads of up to 8K drone footage for a meager monthly fee and you don’t mind a small selection of videos.

4. Envato Elements

Envato Elements is the largest marketplace for unlimited downloads of videos (3.1M), music (733K), sound effects (733K), photos (6.1M), and other creative content. At the same time, it is also one of the cheapest since you can get full access to the collection for $16.50 per month or $11 per month as a student.

  • Price: $11.00–$39.00 per month
  • Video count: 323K drone footage, 532K aerial videos
  • Resolution: HD, FHD, 4K
  • Free: 7-day free trial with full access to the entire collection

We recommend Envato Elements to anyone who needs unlimited access to various creative assets with one subscription and a straightforward license for a low monthly fee.

Read more: How to get Envato Elements for free?

Other good options worth considering

  • Shutterstock: A good alternative to Adobe Stock with a similar number of videos and pricing but with more fragmented buying options.
  • Depositphotos: Cheaper than Adobe Stock and Shutterstock but with half as many drone clips and less comprehensive licensing.
  • Videvo: The cheapest option with unlimited downloads ($12/month) but with a much smaller selection than Envato Elements and lower quality than Artgrid.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What frame rate is best for drone footage?

Choose a frame rate that fits your content. For web use, 30 frames per second are generally preferred, but for all full-speed shooting, choose 24 or 30 frames per second. Increase the frame rate to 60 or 120fps for shots you know you’ll need to slow down for editing. 60fps can be slowed down to 50% and 120fps to 25%.

How much does a drone video cost?

When bought from stock footage sites, a drone video can cost between $5.00 to $100+, while hiring a drone videographer can cost $200+ per video. You can also shoot the video, which costs nothing, but the equipment and the skills to learn cost several thousand dollars and take years to develop.


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