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How to Plan a Drone Video Flight

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It is a great idea to have multiple checklists to run through before a scheduled drone shoot. I have six different checklists that I run through before every shoot. (You can also download all of the checklists from this lesson in the project file.) Three of the checklists I use are 'Advanced Preparation Checklists' and three are 'Day Of Checklists'.

Advanced Preparation Checklists

Location Scout Checklist

Before filming at a location for a client or yourself, it is always a good idea to know as much as you can about the location prior to the shoot.

1. Confirm Client Location
2. Map Location on Google Earth
3. Check VFR Map of Location
4. Prevision Flight Areas
5. Locate Safety Crash Areas
6. Gain Permissions if Needed
7. Weather Forecast

Mission Planning Checklist

With this checklist you can identify your shoot goals and how you will accomplish them.

Scenario: Big Picture
[Client goals, weather, terrain]
Mission: Specific Goals for Flight
[Resort back to if things change]
Execution: How to Do
[Flight path, shot list, timing, safety]
Murphy's Law
[What can happen?]
[Clothes, food, equipment, emergency] 
[Communication Methods, Roles]

Drone Pack Checklist

This is the checklist you will use when packing up your drone the night before a shoot.

1. Number of Drones
2. Batteries Charged & Packed
3. Controller Batteries Charged
4. Controller & Screens Packed
5. iPad Charged & Packed
6. Check for Drone Updates
7. Camera Batteries Charged
8.  Drone Cameras Checked & Packed
9. Electronics Cables Packed
10. Props & Fasteners Packed
11. Memory Cards Formatted & Loaded
12. Visual Drone Inspection
13. Cases Sealed
14. Backup Items Packed
15. Emergency Gear Kit in Car
16. Eye Gear Packed

'Day Of' Checklists

Morning Shoot Checklist

Various things to check on the morning of a shoot before you leave for the location.

1. Check Weather, Wind, Rain
2. Confirm with Client
3. Location Map Prints Ready
4. Drones Packed & Loaded
5. Gear Packed & Loaded
6. Personal Items Packed
7. Directions to Location Ready
8. Vehicle Trip Ready

Pre-Flight Checklist

Review this checklist with your drone at the shoot location directly before taking flight. 

1. Firmware Updated?
2. Visual Inspection
3.Batteries Charged
4. Props Tight / Locked
5. ND Filter Needed?
6. Memory in Camera / Formatted
7. Camera Batteries Charged
8.  Monitor Brightness Adjusted
9. Shade or Monitor Hood on
10. Transmitter On
11. Drone On
12. GPS Lock / Calibrated
13. Minimum Height Adjusted
14. Minimum Return Height Adjusted
15. Transmission Frequency
16. Camera Picture Style
17. Safe Take Off Location
18. Emergency Locations ID
19. Eye Gear On
20. Area Clear of People
21. Take Off

Safety Procedures

Review these safety procedures in the event of an accident. 

1. Return Home Pressed
2. Warn Surrounding People
3. Drone Direction
4. Drone Distance
5. Battery Life Prediction
6.GPS Map
7. Determine to Drive After or Stay
8. Hunt Within Radius
1. Warn People of Eminent Crash
2. Turn off Controller
3. Stay Back until Drone is Inactive
4. Take Photos of Damage
5. Assess Damage to Drone
6. Assess Property Damage
7. Contact Insurance

Remember, all of these checklists are available for you to download in the project file.

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