Shot on my second-ever flight with a DJI Mavic Air.
The waves in Half Moon Bay are so gnarly right now, they even canceled Mavericks.
Which is why I went to check it out -- with the help of a DJI Mavic Air drone.
The results were incredible -- even as a total beginner who had no love of video editing (just ask the hours and hours of GoPro footage I shot and then stuck on a hard drive somewhere without even looking at it).
First, a beginner can operate a drone safely by setting it on Beginner Mode, which reduces the speed and limits how car the drone can fly from you.
Second, even when you're NOT in Beginner Mode, there is still a Home button that will just direct the drone to come back to you.
Third... the app will actually automatically generate videos for you -- including music (since drone cameras don't have mics -- makes sense, right? All you'd hear is drone and wind noises).
Meaning you'll never have to go through those hours and hours of footage. (Though, of course, you can edit your videos completely manually, too, or edit the automatically-generated ones to include specific clips or moments.)
For example, here's a video from Monday morning. This wasn't one of the automatic ones, but it was made on an iPhone during a short lunch break with the touch of a few buttons:
Here's a shorter one my travel buddy Justin made after we spend a day scootering together in Bohol, Cebu, the Philippines:
(That kid in the very last few seconds of the video? He was SO talented. He saw me and Justin jamming on my SX 1 travel guitar, then sat down to listen to us. After we finished our song, we asked him if he knew how to play anything. He was so young and tiny that, in the words of Justin, "I was expecting 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.'" But he was SO good, I nearly fell off my chair!)
The interesting thing about this video is that it definitely wasn't all shot on a drone. He also used GoPro footage, as well as a camera photo. Which is a capability I didn't realize existed until just now.
Another thing you can do, even as a total beginner, is make cool music videos.
The first (possibly second?) time Justin (different Justin) used his DJI Mavic Air drone ("There are bigger ones with longer battery life, but those would be so hard to travel or whitewater kayak with," he told me)... he made this super cool video of me and my dog, Ruby, playing my brand new, original Christmas song in a nearby park:
(Lyrics available here.)
Of course, if you want there to be music, you need to record audio somehow. We used a Tascam DR-05 Stereo Portable Digital Recorder for the audio, and my Panasonic DC-ZS70 for the on-the-ground shots.
(I normally only use my DC-ZS70 for travel, because it's much smaller than a DSLR and can shoot video in 4k and has a mega superzoom -- but this video is clearly not in 4k, and I'm not sure why. It's not because of the drone, because that also shoots in 4k. Maybe something to do with iMovie? Or doing instant edits on the phone?)
I know these videos aren't perfect -- there are some amazing drone videos out there, and some crazy cool tutorials online (which, sadly, I didn't watch until after my beach and music days).
BUT THEY ARE SO AMAZING CONSIDERING THE AMOUNT OF WORK THAT WENT INTO THEM.
Here's a tutorial to get you started on the DJI Mavic Air:
Once you've watched that.... don't miss:
Everything in life would probably be better if no one else bought a drone -- right now, I feel like any given tourist attraction will have one drone, and one is enough, and more would just suck. Imagine spending, like, six hours climbing or hiking Half Dome... then getting to the top and being surrounded by drones.
(Which is why it's nice you can't use drones in national parks... but I've seen them in Roatan, Batu Karas, Uluwatu, Coron, Bohol, and basically everywhere people travel -- and especially where people watch sunsets.)
But... if you like mountain biking, photography, travel, surfing, flight, or even just making music videos, and you're going to be considerate with it... a drone could be a fun purchase for you. Even if you don't have much time to spend learning how to use it.
Especially if you believe, as I do, that "done" is better than "perfect."
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