Basic set up for your first flight

These lessons are recommended for individuals, or teams who need to acquire proficiency in operating quadcopter drones for commercial purposes. They are meant as a quick reference tool for navigating through a number of standard flying patterns before getting into the "real-world obstacle course." The patterns should be practiced daily to create a solid foundation before moving on.

Two traffic cones are required for the initial lessons. All flying is done at very low altitude and requires about .5 ac area without obstacles.

Keep in mind:

  • Register your drone with the FAA before you fly. It is required by law.

  • Always keep a line of sight with the drone.

  • Fly under 400ft above ground level (AGL) and check local flight restrictions (airport, stadiums, etc). Check here for maximum permissible altitude levels.

  • Be courteous to other people - remember, drones are annoying.

  • Know your rights.

  • Fly safe!


A dolly shot is a specific kind of tracking shot where we follow a subject on an apparatus called a dolly, or in this case using a drone. Dolly shots can be combined with other camera movements to accentuate the theme, or message, of the scene.


Same concept as dolly shot with the camera tilting down and/or up to emphasize features of the subject.


Full or partial orbit shows the subject from different angles and gives a good idea of placement in the environment. Can be flown in constant altitude or with vertical changes (as shown here).

Birds eye

Camera points 90˚ down (nadir angle) while drone pulls straight up. Best practice requires increasing the speed of ascent as you pull further away from the subject. Great for revealing property features.


Image rotates while pulling the drone straight up. Shot should end with a pleasing composition. Can be used to show property layout.

Orbit and reveal

Similar to orbit except the camera points outwards of the circle and reveals the environment. Good for cinematic use to show the scale of the subject.

Wrap & Reverse

Drone flies toward the subject, rotates along one side and continues backward while keeping subject in frame. This shot is great for showing detail of the subject while providing cinematic feel to the shot.