Adding Motion to Drone Photos

Do you own a drone? If it is was made by DJI, there is likely a pretty nice camera integrated into the flying system. Today the most popular use of of drones, or quadcopters, is for amateur still photography. Videography might come in as a close second, but the fact that video editing requires more computer power, and somewhat more expensive desktop applications, can persuade the typical drone operator to stick with still imaging.

Don’t fret! There is a simple way to “swing both ways” and use your still photographs to create a YouTube or Vimeo video. Adobe Lightroom is a heavy-duty application that is by far the favorite among photographers for organizing and processing images. (Yes, your RAW files too!) The dirty little secret about Adobe Lightroom is that, after you process all your DJI Phantom or Inspire images, you can whip out a beautiful slideshow, add music, and export as a video file! I love to do this because I am not as skilled with video as I am with still images, yet I want to post to YouTube every so often.

Adobe “leases” their customers software at a very reasonable rate. The full subscription versions of Photoshop bundled with Lightroom run less than $10 per month.

Here’s how you do it. Obviously you need to get out and fly your drone, whether DJI, Yuneec, 3D Robotics, Autel, or Parrot brands. Capture your images; the best quality results often mean using the lowest ISO, shooting in 4:3 ratio, and keeping an eye on the histogram while you control the exposure compensation wheel (DJI drones).

Import your photographs into Adobe Lightroom. Process as you normally would, using the multitude of adjustments. For aerial photography, which can sometime result in a hazy sky, try either the “de-haze” or “clarity” sliders with the graduated filter tool. After processing your best images, drag those favorites into a new collection. Look along the top option bar and click on “slideshow”.

Once in the slideshow pane, all of your best images will appear in the filmstrip along the bottom. It is now time to re-arrange the images into the order you prefer — whatever is best to tell the story. In the right hand column, you will find several panels with a multitude of options to best capture the viewer’s attention on YouTube. It is simple to add music from your iTunes or your other music saved on your computer. You can even have the slides change to the beat of the music, automatically.

When the slides are in order and the music selected. You will need to check two additional boxes in the Playback Panel. Check panning and zooming for the “Ken Burns Effect”, and check “Sync to Music” for a varied rate during image transitions. Hit the “play” button in the lower right hand corner and sample how it looks. Once no more changes are needed and you have a proud smile on your face, then export the aerial slideshow in the format you prefer by tapping the “Export Video”. The video will export to your preferred location as an MP4 file for smooth internet viewing.

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