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Drone Launch Academy – Aerial Video A to Z course: the review

Flying a drone for the first time can be scary if you have no previous experience. Find out if it’s worth buying the video series Aerial Video A to Z, to help you become a pro and eventually learn how to sell your stock footage.

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One of the most successful articles in this blog is my guide on how to sell pictures. It might seem strange since this is a Travel Blog, but the truth is that selling pictures and stock footage is a great way to make money WHILE traveling and therefore could be the perfect solution if you want to become a digital nomad.

The main problem when trying to create this type of income is that it takes quite some time to figure out how to actually get started. It took me some years to learn all those skills because I basically learned everything by myself.

Luckily, today there is no shortage of both free and paid content to help you learn all you need to know to master whichever skills you are in need of. This is particularly important when flying a drone. Why? Because there are a lot of skills needed: you’ll need to learn how to actually fly the thing, how to manually control the exposure (like any other camera), how to edit your content, and finally how you can monetize it.

Can you learn all of these things by yourself? Yes indeed! But I can guarantee you that it will take you a long time, time that could be otherwise spent creating more content, thus actually helping you to make money (here is my list of the best stock agencies).

This is why I recommend learning these skills by watching a video series that has already prepared all the material for you, condensed in a friendly format, and has been proven to be reliable.

But first a short introduction about Stock Footage.

Stock Footage: what is it and is it worth your time?

Selling stock footage simply means selling short video clips through specialized websites. The video clip could be for example a short time-lapse video of a flower blooming, or a real-time aerial view of a tourist spot.

Who buys stock footage? Anyone can buy stock footage. They are often used on news, movies, documentaries, websites, etc… The concept is basically the same as microstock. If for example, a producer needs a 5 seconds video of rainforest in Brasil, instead of actually flying all the way to South America, he can simply buy the clip from a specialized website.

Statistically, there is less aerial footage compared to the content created with traditional cameras so that’s why it’s a good idea to use a drone. Besides that, you can ask for more money when selling aerial footage.

This being said let’s talk about the video series: Aerial Video A to Z.

Aerial Video A to Z: the review

Aerial Video A to Z has been created by Alex Harris, an experienced video editor, after-effects animator, camera operator, and licensed drone pilot. He’s a very experienced guy who has edited for networks (Discovery Health, FOX Sports, HGTV), short films, commercials, weddings, etc.

Besides that, he has also experience as a Director of Photography for over 10 years. Alex also manages a famous Youtube channel called Quickass Tutorials where he creates, well, quick ass tutorials 🙂

The course is structured in a way and it will teach you everything you need to know starting from the very basic stuff, to some more advanced knowledge. In this regard, I’d say that it’s more aimed at people who want to start from scratch. If you have never ever flown a drone this series is exactly what you’ll need.

If you have already some experience the latter part of the course will most likely be more useful for you.

Alex is a very experienced content creator and you can tell from the way he teaches some of the most complex technical details. It doesn’t matter how difficult the topic is, it will be easy for you to understand it.

After a brief section about specific drones and their best settings, you’ll find a series of videos regarding composition and best angles for shooting cinematic footage. This is particularly useful since it can be quite challenging at first to understand what you should focus on.

There are also very detailed sections on video editing, how to do color-grading, and how to add music and subtitles to your videos.

One of the most useful sections, in my opinion, is dedicated to marketing, an aspect not often discussed in similar video courses. Doing marketing is essential to be able to work as a drone pilot. Alex answers practical questions such as: How much should I charge for my videos? Who owns the videos: me or the customer? And so on… You’ll definitely find practical suggestions on how to start creating content in a professional way and how to monetize it.

One of the issues I noticed is that all of the content has been created using an old generation of drones (Mavic 2 Pro, Air 2, etc.) except for a short section with info about the Mini 3 Pro and the Mavic 3. Don’t get me wrong: the videos are still very relevant because the content is not related to the model of done you are using. Still, it does feel a bit outdated, even though I understand that it doesn’t make sense to keep filming a new series every time DJI launches a new drone. It’s just something I want you to keep in mind.

Drone Launch Academy – Aerial Video A to Z course: what will you learn?

These are some of the things you’ll learn, arranged in the exact order as they are in the video series:

Equipment and Preparation:

  • Equipment – What do you need and what do you not?
  • Drone Comparison – Model head to head with picture comparisons for Price/Picture Quality
  • Computer Requirements & What to upgrade first (also Apple products)
  • Maximizing your drone’s potential & Best Camera Settings for the best Cinematic Image (with multiple models of drones)
  • (Optional) Comparison between Phantom 3 standard – Mavic Pro – Phantom 4 Pro (small update includes Mavic 2 Pro)

Basics of Video:

  • Data Rate, Resolution, Frame Rate

Before the Flight

  • Best Settings for Smooth, Cinematic Flying
  • Plan your route beforehand
  • Drone Pilots #1 Amateur Mistake
  • Final detail for the Cinematic Image (24fps with ND filters)

Flying, Filming, Cinematography

  • Before you Fly – Dos and Do NOTs for Great Shots
  • Easy and Good Looking Shots to go for TODAY to up your game
  • Photography Principles, Rule of thirds, balance, symmetry

Editing Part 1 – Intro to Video Editing

  • Basics of Editing – about the software
  • Settings – Optimizing the PC for faster Editing & Keyboard Shortcuts
  • Timeline movement, Importing your First Video
  • Organizing Multiple Videos on the Timeline Quickly
  • Create a Proxy to Speed up Editing and Maximize your PC (even an old one)

Editing Part 2 – Planning your edit, 2nd level adjustments, even FASTER movement

  • How to Keep people interested
  • Choosing your Best Stuff and quickly moving through all that footage
  • Hiding things in the Scenery – Scale, Position, Visibility
  • Titles – Standard Text effects vs. The Classy and Mature Look you’ll want to show mom

Editing Level 3 – Bells and Whistles

  • Color Correction
  • Color Grading to get the Cinematic Look
  • Fixing too bright/too dark footage
  • Adding Music and Audio controls

Finalizing – Effects, Transitions, and Touch-Ups to take it Next Level

  • Effects and Timing
  • FINAL Edits, Effects, and Timing
  • Export Settings for Best Quality
  • Other Tricks and Fixes
  • Keyframing
  • Selecting Groups and Clips Faster – Separating Audio/Video
  • Fill Gaps with Rate Stretch and Frame-Hold
  • Warp Stabilizer
  • Shooting Slow-Motion Correctly & Frame Rates

The course will also grant you access to a private Community Facebook Group where you can discuss drones, share your work, post questions, find out how other people make money and handle job types, or just talk about anything related to aerial video.

Besides that, you’ll be able to download some of Alex’s footage and familiarize yourself with some of the tools and methods mentioned in the videos.

Final thoughts

As you can see, the topics are very practical and many of the things explained can be applied to both microstock and stock footage. Alex will tell you which mistakes you’ll have to avoid and will definitely help you to start earning some money by selling stock footage. You will understand that there are no easy ways to get rich quickly but you will learn the right method to become a professional drone pilot and therefore you’ll be able to maximize your earnings.

If you use my affiliate link you’ll save 100$ from the total price. I’d say it’s a pretty awesome deal:

If you are still undecided keep in mind that the course has a 30-day, no questions asked guarantee. Need I say more?

If you want a video series more focused on photography you can get the Aerial Photo Pro ($50 off with this link). If you want a very basic video series but completely FREE you can watch it here: Drones 101. Finally, if you are based in the States and need to take the FAA 107 test to fly commercially, check out this exam prep course (50$ off).

To conclude this article, I personally recommend this video series if you are seriously thinking about learning to fly a drone and monetize this hobby. The course is not cheap but if you’ll apply what you’ll learn, it will pay itself out in a short time.

Here you can find my review of one of the best Photoshop Plugins to merge two or more exposures. Here you can find a useful article with the latest drone regulations worldwide.

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