The Drone Pilot How-To

The Drone Pilot How-To

Thanks for helping out our customers (and us) with your pro drone filming expertise! Here’s a bit about what we need. Please keep in mind our instructions are a bit different than what you may be used to – and if they’re not followed carefully, we may not be able to use your footage.

We will be using your video to create a 3D scan of the building; we need:

  • 4K (or as high as you can make it) video taken of the complete exterior of the house
  • In one continuous take of the building,
  • Going around the building 3 times (twice clockwise and once counter-clockwise) varying the altitude with every pass at 10′, roofline, and 10′ above roofline
  • Getting full coverage, especially of the sides. Remember, we cover our roofs with snow, so the roof is much less important to us than the sides. Film from up high and film from down low – we need to see inside all the nooks and crannies. Especially important is the front door – sometimes it’ll be covered with a porch roof. Make sure to dip down low enough so that you can see it.
  • Please make sure to get enough distance from the house such that you get the whole side from top of the house to the base in the frame. We can’t use footage that’s only 3 feet away from the house.

Now, let me make something clear, since it’s important and is often overlooked by our drone pilots: ONE CONTINUOUS TAKE. It’s important for our photogrammetry software that the camera moves along one continuous path. Taking footage of the front, followed by footage of the sides, without the movement in between is bad for us. If you do need to stop the recording, try to return the drone to the same area before starting again. It’s ok to send us multiple segments as long as those segments overlap. If the segments you send us do not overlap, we will likely send you back for a redo.

Also, since the photogrammetry algorithm works from motion, remember to keep moving. Strafing along the sides is best, but up-and-down can work when trees block your path.

We need about 15 minutes of footage, but no editing or conversion, just the raw footage. 


  • Resolution should be at least 3840 x 2160. If you’re unable to record at this resolution please contact us before filming.
  • Shoot for a data rate of around 50Mbit/s or better.
  • A nice frame rate is 24 fps.

Now, sometimes there are issues.

  1. Trees in the way (so annoying.) Please just do what you can. If you can’t get good ground-level footage with the drone, then walk the drone camera around the house. We know that walking isn’t fun for pilots – but sometimes there’s just no choice.
  2. Sometimes there’s not enough room between houses to get good coverage. In that case, please try to go to the roofline and film downwards at a 45-degree angle. Also film down the sides from the front or back.
  3. GRAY DAYS ONLY. If it’s sunny, you’ll get shadows and lens flares. Gray days are actually best for getting even lighting. Adjust the exposure on your camera so that the colors never get blown out; no filters please. If you send us a video with blown-out colors, we will likely send you back for a redo.

Here’s an example of perfect droning (in our eyes.) Note that this video is speeded up. We don’t need you to do that.

Again, there are 4 main requirements, so that no one has to go back to refilm:

***Gray days only***

***Go around the building 3 times total (twice cw, once ccw, three levels) ***

***Don’t get too close to the building***

***Film in 4k***

All done? Upload Please make a note of the job customer name in wetransfer, then please email to let us know it’s been uploaded and the filename you sent us. Otherwise we may not know whose video belongs to whom!

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