Drones make establishing a scene with an aerial shot more accessible.
One of the most memorable establishing shot sequences in film history opens Stanley Kubrick’s horror film The Shining. The camera glides over forests and mountains before revealing the mountaintop hotel where the film’s action takes place. When this film was made, only a big-budget production could afford the helicopter and crew to get that footage, but these types of shots are now accessible at a lower price point with drones.
Two drone-related caveats:
“Whenever the camera is moving, that implies to the viewer a point of view,” writer and filmmaker David Andrew Stoler says. “If you’re moving in your establishing shot, the question is ‘Who’s seeing this? Whose point of view am I in?’” Director and writer Van Jensen adds, “You have to be shooting something where you don’t need to be capturing sound, because drones are extremely loud.”