Achieving high-dynamic range shots with a drone can be tricky because the camera sensors on drones are often not as flexible as those in a DSLR or higher-end video camera. (Mainly because drones have to carry much smaller cameras!) So filming in a “flat” picture profile or a “log format” can allow us to get a bit more dynamic-range in our shot.
How to Do Basic Color Correction for Drone Video
The problem is that shots filmed in a flat profile often appear washed out and unsaturated. This means we will need to do some color correcting in post-production in order to get the footage looking like the scene did on the day of filming.
Using the Levels effect on your footage in Adobe After Effects can help you bring some contrast back into your image. You can use the histogram on the effect to see where the color values of your image are. Slide the Black and White input tabs over so they are right at each end of the histogram. Just make sure you don’t clip the ends of the histogram.
The Vibrance effect is similar to the Saturation effect, but instead of bringing up all of the colors equally as Saturation does when it is increased, Vibrance gradually brings up colors in a more natural manner. Vibrance also looks much better on greens and blues, which are often prevalent in aerial footage.
Hue & Saturation
If you need to adjust the color tones of specific colors, you can use the Hue & Saturation effect. I will often shift the blues to be more of a cyan tone and I will also darken down the greens to be a more natural forest green. (Avoid the nuclear green look on trees!)
If you need an extra bite of sharpness on your footage you can use the effect Unsharp Mask set at a value from 20 to 50. This can bring back a little bit of detail if you filmed in a soft picture profile; however, this can lead to artifacts and noise in your footage, so use the effect selectively.
Now that you have mastered color correcting your footage, you may want to check out the Gradual Presets Pack on Videohive. The Gradual Presets Pack allows you to quickly and easily apply gradient color grades onto your footage. There are 24 grades included with numerous options to customize your own looks. Gradients can look great when paired with drone footage because you can tweak the colors of the sky (top gradient color) independently from the landscape (the bottom gradient color).