24 Drone Moves for Cinematic B-Roll

Shooting beautiful scenes with a drone is a creative process that requires certain skills. For any pilot, new or professional, various drone moves can greatly improve the quality of the shots captured. Here is a complete list of 24 drone moves to enhance your B-roll cinematography, with clear descriptions and recommendations for each movement. By mastering these moves, you can effectively increase the variety of views and motions in your clips, ultimately helping you produce high-quality and engaging videos.

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Drone Moves for Cinematic B-Roll

What is B-Roll?

B-Roll is additional scenes that complement the primary scenes (A-Roll) in a video shoot. It helps in providing context, aesthetics, and continuity, making the video more interesting and less monotonous. B-Roll explains points made in the main footage and is used to avoid repetition of similar scenes and thus has an effect on the mood and tone of the video.

I have compiled a comprehensive list of different drone shots, categorized by skill level: there are three categories of the level of difficulty which include, the basic level, middle level, and advanced level. There are three main types of shots: Beginner shots are created by utilizing a single direction on your controller, intermediate shots are created with two directions, and advanced shots are created with three or more directions. Before introducing complex movements, it is necessary to learn how to control the drone in one direction only, because any shaking and nervous movements will spoil the picture and attract attention to the movement of the drone.

The controller configuration I’m using is the standard setup, where the left joystick controls altitude and rotation, and the right joystick controls forward, backward, and side-to-side movement. If your controller is configured differently, adjust accordingly.

Beginner Moves

All the beginner moves are created by utilizing a single direction on your controller.

1. Tripod

This is the least difficult move. Just hover the drone to the desired location and make the necessary tilting of the gimbal to the appropriate height and then the drone just stays still and records the scene or anything that is moving within the scene.

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Stay Still
Tripod Shot Sample

2. Reverse

The next shot is the exact opposite. Press the right joystick downwards to make the drone move backward. Always make sure that you have sight lines behind you so that you do not end up having an accident. While many drones have sensors to avoid an impact, it is always wise to look around for anything that might be in your path.

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Right Joystick Downwards
Reverse Shot Sample

3. Slide (Dolly)

The third move is the slide, also known as a dolly. To execute this, pull the right joystick left or right. With the gimbal facing forward, the drone will move sideways in the chosen direction.

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Slide (dolly)
Slide Shot Sample

4. Push In

The fourth is the push-in. Use the right joystick to push forward to move the drone forward. This is one of the most basic and widely used shots, and it is a shot that I always get when flying.

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Push In
Push In Shot Sample

5. Raise Up

Next is the raise-up. Push forward on the left joystick to make your drone ascend into the sky. As mentioned earlier in the video, use gimbal rotation to vary these shots, giving your footage a completely different look.

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Raise-Up
Raise-Up Shot Sample

6. Drop Down

The next shot is the drop-down. Pull down on the left joystick to make your drone descend. When landing, it’s a good idea to have a shot framed up so you can capture one of these shots at the end of your flight.

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Drop-Down
Drop Down Shot Sample

7. Rotation

Next is the rotation. Push left or right on the left joystick to make your drone spin in the sky. This move can add dynamic movement to your footage.

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Rotation
Rotation Shot Sample

Intermediate Moves

The next set of shots is made with the help of two directions. This might be done by mapping one joystick to two axes, or by mapping both joysticks at once. These movements are not simple one-direction motions; they enhance your video’s depth and provide more variety. Mastering these intermediate techniques will allow you to capture more engaging and professional-looking shots. Let’s explore these two-directional movements in detail.

8. Angled Push/Reverse Push

First is the angled push or reverse push. Tap on the right joystick to the upper or lower corner. This action propels the drone forward while at the same time shifting it horizontally from left to right. You can also do this in reverse, where the drone goes backward while sliding left or right.

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Angled Push
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Reverse Push
Angled Push/Reverse Push Shot Sample

9. Raise Up and Push Forward

The next move is the raise up and push forward and this is done by extending the arm and the hand and pushing forward and upwards. To make your drone move forward over the landscape and at the same time ascend, push both joysticks together.

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Raise and Push Forward
Shot Sample

10. Raise Up/Drop Down and Rotate

The next move is identical to the previous one, but the left joystick should be utilized for this purpose. Slide it into one of the four corners to lift it up and spin or lower it down and spin. This will cause the drone to hover and rotate at the same time, making it move in circles up or down.

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Raise Up Rotation
Raise Up Rotation Sample

11. Raise Up with Reverse

Next is the raise-up with reverse. Push the left joystick forward and pull the right joystick backward simultaneously. This will make the drone ascend while moving backward. It’s a great reveal shot, allowing you to start close on a subject and then pull back to reveal the bigger picture.

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Raise Up + Reverse
Raise Up + Reverse Sample

12. Raise Up with Gimbal Rotation Down

Next is the raise up with gimbal rotation down. Push the left joystick forward to ascend while pulling the gimbal control down to tilt the camera. This will make your drone rise into the sky while the gimbal focuses downward, allowing you to follow a subject from above. You can also do this in reverse: descend with the drone while rotating the gimbal up, shifting from a higher perspective to an eye-level view.

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Raise + Gimbal Up
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Raise + Gimbal Down
Raise + Gimbal Rotation Shot Sample

13. Drop Down and Gimbal Rotation

The “Drop Down with Gimbal Rotation” maneuver combines descending and tilting the gimbal for a dynamic shot. Push the left joystick down to lower the drone while rotating the gimbal to maintain focus on your subject. This creates a dramatic shift in perspective, revealing details as the drone descends. Perfect for transitioning from an aerial view to a closer, more detailed look at your subject.

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Drop Down and Gimbal Rotation
Drop Down and Gimbal Rotation Shot

14. Orbit

The second is the orbit, a drone shot that has been used in films for years. Place your subject or the point you are trying to make in the middle of the landscape and then turn around it. There are two ways to achieve this: push right on the left joystick and left on the right joystick, or pull left on the left joystick and right on the right joystick. There are two ways of executing this move: slowly and widely or fast and narrow. Adjust the distance and velocity to get different types of orbits.

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A Picture of DJI RC Controller
Orbit Shot Sample

15. Push In with Gimbal Rotation Down

After that, there is the push-in with a gimbal rotation down. Fly forward across the landscape while tilting the gimbal down to point at a certain area on the ground. This shot is used to call attention to an object on the ground. You can also do this in reverse: push on the left joystick while turning the gimbal clockwise. This enables you to begin by looking down at an object and then pull out backward to unveil the far-off view.

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Push In Gimbal Down
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Push Out Gimbal Down
Push In + Gimbal Rotation Down Sample Shots

Advanced Moves

Now let’s proceed to the next level, which works on the principle of chaining three or more movements to execute various more elaborate shots. These techniques are more complex and take time to master but yield excellent results and can help make your shots cinematic. Learning these high-level tricks will enable you to get complex, compelling shots that you can integrate into your general video shooting. Now let’s go deeper into these types of advanced drone operations.

16. Reverse Slide with Rotation

First, perform a reverse slide with rotation: pull the left joystick right or left, and the right joystick down to a corner. This gives a larger sweep than just using the right joystick alone.

Next, do a push and slide with rotation: move forward and towards your subject. Add a gimbal rotation by moving the gimbal upwards while reverse sliding and rotating.

Lastly, for an orbit with gimbal rotation: move the left joystick left, the right joystick right, and rotate the gimbal up to change your perspective dynamically.

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Reverse Slide + Rotation
Reverse Slide + Rotation Sample

17. Push in side rotation

The “Push In Side Rotation” maneuver refers to a situation where the drone is pushed forward and rotated in a side direction. This gives an effect of creating a rolling shot that helps in creating more dimension and action in your clips. Moving forward with the right joystick and turning left or right using the left joystick allows for a smooth sweeping movement that is perfect for shooting vast scenery or central subjects while giving it a more cinematic feel.

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Push + Rotation
Push and Rotation Sample

18. Reverse Slide with Gimbal Rotation

Perform a reverse slide by pushing the left joystick right or left and pushing the right joystick down to one of the four corners. This gives a large sweep, The principal effect of this manner of composing the picture is that the artist can cover a vast area with ease. Introduce a gimbal rotation by moving the gimbal up. This combination allows for a wider view when moving forward and backward and while sliding.

24 Drone Moves for Cinematic B Roll 21
Reverse Slide with Gimbal Rotation
Reverse Slide with Gimble Rotation Sample

19. Orbit with Gimbal Rotation

For this shot, the subject should be centered, and then create an orbit around it by maneuvering the gimbal. Rotate the left joystick to the left, and the right joystick to the right while tilting the gimbal upwards. This shift in position alters the position of the character dynamically and provides a panoramic view of the scenario, akin to a film.

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Orbit and Gimbal Rotation
Orbit and Gimbal Rotation Sample

20. Drop Down and Rotate while Sliding

This involves coming downwards with a large sweep. While dropping down, rotate around a certain point, which is located on the horizon. For instance, if you have your point of interest at a pier, you will circle around it while falling. This forms an interesting and dynamic shot as the drone is flying downward while at the same time making a turn.

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Drop Down and Gimbal Rotate
Drop Down and Gimbal Rotate Sample

21. Raise Up and Rotate with Forward Motion

To go forward and at the same time push the two joysticks up to raise the drone. This combination will lift your drone up into the sky as well as progress over the terrain. It is ideal for moving from the ground level and suddenly giving a view of the area below.

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Raise + Rotate
Raise + Rotate Video Sample

22. Raise Up Rotation With Push Slide

The Maneuver ‘Raise Up Rotation with Push Slide’ is one of the highly complex that require the drone to move upwards, do a rotation, and slide in the lateral direction in order to capture a unique and fascinating shot that proves appealing to the viewers. To perform this, apply upward motion in the left joystick to go up and turn the drone in a desired direction simultaneously.

At the same time, you should use the right joystick for the lateral motion in the left-right direction. This results in the drone having both a vertical and horizontal movement of sliding up and around the area, thus capturing a more movie-like view of the scene in addition to transforming the portrait from a different angle and perspective. Generally this technique helps to add a perspective and a deeper interest to a footage, especially when filming large grounds or detailed subject movements from a point of view perspective.

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Raise + Push Slide
Raise + Push Slide Video Sample

23. Drop Down Rotation With Push Slide

The motion described as “Drop Down Rotation with Push Slide” involves dropping, rotating and side pushing and sliding technique in shooting. Slide the right joystick to move the drone horizontally while pushing the button on the left joystick to tilt it downwards while spinning around. This results in a rather wide shooting style, as seen in movies, perfect for staging or previewing shots from different vantage points.

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Drop + Push Slide
Drop + Push Slide Sample Video

24. Forward Drop Down Gimbal Up

When flying in the forward direction, move the drone in the forward direction while going down and at the same time, rotate the gimbal in an upward motion. Move the left stick up to the corner of the upper right and the right stick up to the corner of the upper left. This creates a motion where the drone moves forward to a point close to the target while the gimbal simultaneously tilts up in order to change the horizon in the shot.

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Forward Drop Down Gimbal Up
Forward Drop Down Gimbal Up Shot

Read More: 15 must change dji avata 2 settings for pilots.

Credit: Jeven Dovey