Whether it's from airships, helicopters, balconies, or UAVs, the aerial shot is a traditional camera movement that anybody with a fundamental understanding of movie structure can recognize.

Aerials are outer images taken from high off the ground, covering a vast area. These shots are used to instill a sense of geographic location, provide a point of reference, serve as a movie's opening or closing shot, or make a subject look small and unfair by sensationalizing their image of solitude.

Too fast? Take a step back and learn the fundamentals of filmmaking.

What is an aerial shot?

What is an aerial shot

An aerial shot is a photograph taken from a higher viewpoint than the photograph's subject.

Aerial images, both figurative and literal, provide viewers a better idea of what's going on below.

Other names for the aerial shot:

  • Bird's eye view shot
  • God's eye view shot
  • Aerial View
  • Overhead Shot
  • Elevated Shot
  • Raised Shot

Get to know other camera shots. Discover 50+ camera angles and shots in filmmaking.

Best aerial shot examples used in the film

1. The Birds

A "bird's eye" or "God's eye" shot is a standard version of the aerial shot. They are taken from a height greater than the object.

The majestic aerial bird's eye footage was a favorite of Alfred Hitchcock's. One of his most famous uses is in Hitchcock's 1963 film The Birds, in which he gets a bird's eyesight of an exploding gas station. Though you have to take aerial photos outside, there is an exemption – God's Eye shots. God's Eye shots can be pretty high (as in Hitchcock's case) or just above the subject they're looking down on. As a result, they're used in a variety of situations.

2. Zodiac

The audio from the radio show is juxtaposed with the steady driving with no veering or racing in this scene. Here we/people on the radio are perplexed by what is driving the serial killer in the car.

3. American Beauty

This overhead picture of Sacramento from American Beauty (1999) has a map-like appearance. It aims to create a geographic place for the film's setting while also establishing the backdrop that our story is about one modest, suburban household among many others.

4. Black Hawk Down

You can use aerial shots to set the scene. The helicopter shots in the film Black Hawk Down, for example, indicate the position of things. The aerial picture could identify the movie's setting and possibly encounter a character.

5 Tips on how to execute an aerial shot

1. Shoot in the morning light

Morning light in aerial shots

Considering aerial filmmaking is generally employed for exterior pictures, the morning light will give the most delicate setting for drone photos.

2. Use an ND filter

ND filter will allow you to capture at a theatrical shutter, which will help you link UAV photos with several other shots made with a cinematic camera.

3. Use slow movements

Slow camera movements is ideal for drone photography. Drones which are fast-moving images, produce bumpy, shaking footage that looks amateurish and lowers the value of the resulting film you're aiming to make. A slow-mo shot aids in the creation of a more spectacular image.

4. Try color grading

Always remember that whenever you shoot a project with some drone montages, you need to color grade to match the footage taken on the other equipment or camera that will be or has been used to shoot the rest of the film or videos.

5. Try adding a zoom

Add a zoom effect in aerial shots

Zoom application will aid in improving the depth of the shot and make the montage captivating and attractive.

Learn more about drone cinematography

It's no secret than you can use aerial shots for a variety of purposes – giving you different shots and perspectives.

Want to master the aerial shot?

Start by learning drone cinematography.

What is an aerial shot?

An aerial shot is a photograph taken from a higher viewpoint than the subject of the photograph.

What do you call an aerial shot?

Aerial Shots are called God’s eye shot.

How are aerial shots taken?

They are taken from the height greater than the object.