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Awaken: An Aerial Exploration of Iceland

January 13, 2017

Watch the video and then get tips on how to improve your own drone videos
Drone: Phantom 4 Pro
Ground shots: X5 Osmo
OK, so there are many drone videos of Iceland floating around the web, including two others on the Drone360 site. But this one is filmed with the new DJI Phantom 4 Pro and shot by Mike Bishop, the filmmaker who brought you Into the West.

It's clear this drone video features some stunning aerial footage of the ever-pleasing Icelandic landscape, but Bishop's favorite shots are of the glacial rivers (seen at 3:01). “There’s just something so magical about those rivers when shot from [the] air,” he says. “From the ground they literally just look like any other river but once you get in the air they just look so surreal, like a painting or something ― art of the earth.”

And guess what? He didn’t use any filters when filming ― the Phantom 4 Pro has mechanical shutters! That means operators can manually adjust the shutter speed, unlike previous Phantom models which were stuck at a specific shutter speed. Since shutter speed can be adjusted, filming on a sunny day isn’t a problem ― and filters are more of an option rather than a necessity.

Bishop admits he didn't find all these perfect sites himself: he had guides. His main guide was photographer Donal Boyd, his other guide was photographer Benjamin Hardman, and his “adventure girl” was photographer and travel blogger Kiara Schawrtz. (Yeah, they make appearances in the video.)

Want to improve your drone videos? Here are some tips from Bishop:
  • Get a variety of shots at each location, and don’t forget about the one shot you need
    “When you get to a spot, always think about what the one key shot is for that location,” Bishop says. “Nothing worse than looking at the footage and realizing you missed the shot due to getting carried away with having fun flying.”

  • Collect your own audio effects
    If you fly, you know drones don’t record audio. So how the heck did Bishop get the sound of waves crashing, the wind blowing, and the other sounds heard in the film?

    “What I’ve found has been helpful on some occasions is just to use the voice record app on your phone to collect audio as you go on a trip,” he says. “That’s an easy free way to do it. I’ve even made some wind sounds by just blowing into my phone.”

  • Do not fly with Icelandic sea gulls
    Bishop doesn’t advise flying with Icelandic sea gulls because he says they’re more “vicious” than their North American counterparts. Even though he and his team didn't experience problems, you’ve been warned.