Why Is My Drone Footage Choppy and How To Fix This? (2024)

Have you ever watched breathtaking drone footage and marveled at the birds-eye view of wondrous landscapes, only to be rudely jolted out of your awe by the jerkiness in the video? Welcome to the frustrating world of choppy drone footage. This abruptness that interrupts the smooth flow of an otherwise perfect video is more common than you might think. The good news is, with some common-sense solutions and expert guidance, it doesn’t have to be an absolute killjoy.

Capturing a bird’s eye view using drones has revolutionized videography. Drones allow us to explore angles we’ve never seen before, and their use is only expanding. Despite technological advancements, a common phrase I’ve encountered among drone enthusiasts is “Drone Footage Choppy.” Not only do these jerky transitions disrupt viewer engagement, but they also demean the effort involved in the shooting.

If you’ve experienced this problem or are venturing out for your first drone shoot and want to avoid this issue altogether, stay tuned! Incredibly interesting but often misunderstood processes are involved in ensuring seamless footage in aerial videography. We’re breaking them down for you and discussing ways to work together to navigate these challenges.

Understanding the Problem: Drone Footage Choppy

When we say “choppy drone footage,” we’re referring to video clips that seem unsmooth or broken up, almost as if you’re watching a series of still images strung together rather than a continuous recording. This phenomenon, unfortunately, is not an uncommon occurrence in aerial videography.

There are several reasons why this issue rears its unwelcome head. Indeed, many factors contribute to the quality of your sky-high recording. Aerial conditions like wind speed and turbulence can unsteady your gadget mid-flight, causing unstable footage. Furthermore, hardware troubles such as poor signal strength or transmission interference can also disrupt smooth recording.

On top of this, there’s an aspect that people often overlook – the interplay between camera settings and light conditions. In less-than-ideal lighting scenarios or when using inappropriate camera parameters like shutter speed and frame rate mismatch, it may result in choppy effects on your recorded video.

Such problematic footage significantly detracts from the viewing experience for several reasons:

To save both your drone videos from ‘choppiness’ and viewers from frustration due to poor viewing quality, recognizing these potential issues is paramount before we dive into solving them. You will achieve smoother drone videography by understanding what may be causing any choppiness in the first instance.

Common Causes of Choppy Drone Footage

Understanding what’s causing the problem is the first step towards making those mouthwatering aerial videos that will make viewers gasp in awe. Here’s a closer look at some common culprits of those unwanted shakes, judders, and blurs that turn our drone footage into a rough ride.

Common Causes of Choppy Drone Footage

Frame Rate Mismatch

One of the most common causes for choppy drone footage is a mismatch between the frame rate of the video file and that of your playback device or editor. For example, if you’re filming at 30 frames per second (fps) but importing to an editing system set for 24 fps, your video might appear uneven because not all frames are being shown.

Remember this rule of thumb: Your frame rate while filming should always match your intended output format. It ensures consistency in how your footage looks during playback.

Shutter Speed Issues

Drone cameras – just like conventional ones – use shutter speed to control how long they expose each frame. If set improperly, it can lead to too much or too little motion blur. In extreme cases, this can cause judder or flickering problems, which spoil smooth playback.

Typically, many videographers abide by the so-called “180° rule for smooth cinematic motion.” That means we should set our shutter speed to double our framerate – so if you’re shooting at 30fps, an ideal shutter speed would be about 1/60th of a second.

Drone’s Movement and Stability

Let’s face it: drones fly through the air and thus are subject to wind and turbulence even on calm days. Sudden changes in direction or altitude may translate into noticeable bumps in your videos – what we term “physical” choppiness.

Stability problems aren’t confined to movement alone, though. Vibrations from windy conditions or high-speed maneuvers can also make their way into your beautiful drone shots.

Fortunately, many drones often come with mechanical stabilization systems (gimbals), which greatly reduce the incidence of these glitches, making your video appear smoother.

Signal Interference

Signal interference is another frequent cause of choppy video quality. Suppose you’re experiencing video lag or breakup during a flight. In that case, the radios communicating between your drone and its controller may likely be suffering from signal interference – either from natural obstacles or other artificial radio sources nearby.

Therefore, always ensure you’re flying in open areas and as far away as possible from common signal interferers like Wi-Fi routers, cellphone towers, power lines, and large buildings.

Storage and Data Transfer Limitations

Last but not least, let’s talk about data storage and transfer. Sometimes, the issue isn’t your drone or your filming technique – it’s where you’re storing those precious videos!

You see, the drone footage needs to be written onto a memory card while you’re in mid-flight – if this process doesn’t flow well due to slow write speeds or near-full storage capacity, then guess what? Your resulting footage becomes choppy!

Also Read: Fixing Drone Wobbling: Ultimate Guide for Smooth Flights

Solutions for Smooth Drone Footage

From frame rates to signal interference, numerous factors can contribute to choppy drone footage. But there’s no need to feel overwhelmed—quite a few easy fixes can help you capture silky-smooth aerial videos. Let’s explore these potential solutions:

Adjusting Frame Rate and Shutter Speed

The interplay between the frame rate and shutter speed is vital when filming with drones to create smooth scenes. The frame rate refers to how many frames your camera captures per second while rolling film. We measure this in frames per second (fps), such as 30fps or 60fps.

On the other hand, the shutter speed determines how long your camera’s sensor is exposed to light each time it takes a single picture or frame. This value is often given as a fraction of a second.

A commonly-followed rule of thumb, the “180-degree rule,” suggests that your shutter speed should be approximately double your frame rate for natural-looking motion blur in video footage.

This means if you’re shooting at 30fps, aim for a shutter speed of around 1/60th of a second. If you’re filming at 60fps, try for around 1/120th instead.


Improving Drone Stability

Stability is essential when it comes to capturing smooth drone footage. Uneven flights can cause an unwanted shake or wobble in your videos—making them look unprofessional.

A straightforward way of increasing stability is by planning your flight path carefully and executing smoother movements, detailing every approach, rotation, ascent, or descent ahead of time. This can help minimize abrupt changes that could lead to shaky footage.

Using equipment specifically designed for stabilizing drone flights – such as quality gimbals – makes capturing steady footage a breeze. Gimbals work to keep your camera level by compensating for drone tilt and movement, resulting in significantly smoother shots.

In addition, using drones with built-in image stabilization features can also help counterbalance the effects of wind or abrupt drone movements, maintaining a sturdy frame throughout your recording session.

Dealing with Signal Interference

Few things can ruin an excellent drone shoot quite like signal interference. Interference can occur when other electronic devices or obstacles interrupt the connection between your drone and its remote control.

Not only can this result in shoddy controls, but it could also influence your video feed—contributing to those dreaded choppy clips.

Some tips for avoiding interference include:

Managing Storage and Data Transfer

Last but certainly not least is managing storage capacity and data transfer—among the less obvious factors that could impair video quality.

Without enough storage space on your memory card or insufficient speed for data transfer, videos may become laggy—or worse—interrupted mid-shooting.

To prevent these annoying production hiccups, make sure you have sufficient storage available before the flight—preferably an SD card that meets Class 6 or 10 speed standards for smooth recording capabilities.

By taking these precautionary steps before firing up my drones’ propellers, I’ve found myself enjoying steadier flights while capturing smoother footage—and trust me—it makes all the difference!

Also Read: Essential Guide to Flying Your Drone in Winter

Tips for Capturing Smooth Drone Footage

Capturing smooth drone footage can feel like a daunting challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. With some thoughtful planning and careful execution, you can significantly improve the quality of your drone videos. Here are some key tips to help guide your aerial filming journey.

Drone Footage Choppy: Tips for Capturing Smooth Drone Footage

Plan Flight Paths and Movements

Planning ahead is a crucial aspect of achieving smooth drone footage. Before each flight:

Monitor Battery Levels

Battery power will directly impact both the length and quality of your flight. Here’s how to manage it effectively:

Consider Weather Conditions

Weather can dramatically affect both the safety and quality of your drone footage:

Optimize Camera Settings

Camera settings play an integral role in capturing smooth videos:

Remember, it’s all about preparation and understanding. With these tips

Also Read: Water Sampling with Drones: A Step-by-Step Guide

Editing and Post-Processing

Breathtaking drone footage turns even more marvelous after diligent editing and post-processing. Let’s dive deep into some tips for enhancing our aerial captures.

Firstly, choosing the right software tool is crucial. Tools like Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro X, and DaVinci Resolve are top-tier choices in video editing software cherished by professionals worldwide. They offer a myriad of advanced features for color grading, stabilization, rendering, and much more. Lightworks, HitFilm Express, and Shotcut are excellent free alternatives.

When you kick off with editing your drone footage, remember to adjust the speed right off the bat. High-velocity shots might create captivating experiences, but slowing down your footage can also reveal detailed vistas unnoticed at full speed.

Color grading is another essential technique to enhance visual storytelling. It allows us to adjust various attributes of video colorability – brightness, contrast, saturation, among others – thus molding images as per our artistic vision.

Never underestimate the power of precise cuts. Timing your cuts impeccably with background music or changing scenery can drastically augment your video’s appeal. Experiment with various types of cuts – from basic ones like jump cuts and cross-cuts to those requiring finesse, such as J & L cuts or match cuts.

Stabilization tools provided within most aforementioned software play a pivotal role in fixing choppy footage issues. For example,* ‘Warp Stabilizer’ in Adobe Premiere Pro*, upon application, analyzes motion in that clip and applies corresponding reverse motion for a smooth appearance.

Last but not least, Remember that less can be more when it comes to drone footage editing, too! Don’t overdo effects or transitions; subtlety usually plays better on screen than conspicuous digital pyrotechnics.


What is a good frame rate for drone footage?

Generally, 24 to 30 frames per second (fps) is considered ideal for drone footage. This provides a cinematic look. However, if you plan to do slow-motion effects in post-processing, shooting at higher frame rates like 60 fps or even 120 fps would be beneficial.

How can I improve my drone’s communication signal?

To enhance your drone’s communication signal, ensure you’re operating in an area free of obstructions and radio frequency interference. Additionally, always aim the antenna of the controller towards the drone and maintain optimal distance.

Does the weather affect my drone’s video quality?

Yes, weather conditions can significantly impact your video quality. Wind can cause instability during flight, while rain and snow can interfere with the lens clarity and overall visibility. Always consider weather forecasts before planning your flights.


In essence, capturing smooth drone footage may seem complex, but with the right understanding and application of techniques, you can significantly reduce the chance of producing choppy outcomes. Understanding factors like frame rates, shutter speeds, drone stability, and weather conditions go a long way in achieving quality video content. Also important is mastering the art of maneuvering your drone and optimizing your camera settings for the best possible results.

And remember – sometimes you might encounter unavoidable challenges out there in the field. That’s where post-production steps come in handy to polish up your shots. With tools for editing and stabilizing footage available today, you’re ever closer to producing those perfect aerial videos.

Above all else, patience and practice remain key ingredients for success in this endeavor. Keep experimenting with these techniques, learn from each flight experience, and push forward on your journey to mastering drone videography.

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