Aerial Videography in the Southwest

The topography of the American southwest has always been my favorite landscape. There’s something about the rugged buttes and arches that is wild while still being wholly majestic. Dave Brock, the owner of AV Productions, recently had the opportunity to capture that dynamic landscape with aerial video.

One Landscape, Two Moods

The drone really shows off the landscape in a way that a grounded camera can’t. The purpose of these short vignettes is more or less eye candy, just to look cool and evoke a response like “what a beautiful landscape” or some similar feeling that may not even be put into words. Since there’s no voice over or other direct communication with the audience these videos lean on the music to support the feeling of the visuals; but the lack of narration also opens up the possibility of using vocal tracks to further enhance the feeling of the video. While editing these aerial vignettes together I noticed that the two locations had a very different feel despite looking visually similar. I chose music to enhance the unique feeling of each location and the result is two videos that are very different thematically. That difference got me thinking about how we use aerial footage in corporate video projects at AV Productions.

More Than A Feeling

Sometimes “because it looks cool” is reason enough to include a shot in a video, but for our corporate clients we want to go beyond that. I strive for my shots to look great, but also evoke specific emotions that are thematically appropriate for the client. If the company I’m shooting for has an elegant and authoritative brand, I’m going to shoot their videos differently than if they have a more eclectic or quirky corporate image. Experienced shooters will instinctively do this when shooting on a tripod, but sometimes the novelty or wow factor of drone footage can make us forget that our shots should still strive to convey an on-brand feeling for our client. If I’m shooting an aerial shot of a client’s building I can approach the shot in any number of ways. My first thought should be about who the client is. Are they warm and friendly? Are they high tech? The answer to this question should inform my shot as much as possible. If the client is going for a friendly feeling perhaps I will have some people in the shot entering the building and keep the drone closer to the building, pushing toward the front door; subconsciously inviting the viewer to come inside. If a more serious or elegant feeling is desired I might fly across the company name on the outside of the building as the sun hits it and then fly back quickly to reveal the rest of the building, possibly using a speed envelope in post for an ultra quick reveal of the whole building.

Hell’s Revenge
Castleton Tower

These two aerial shorts weren’t for a client, so I let the feeling of the landscape dictate the mood of each piece, and selected shots and music that supported that theme. Different approaches can convey different feelings, and that feeling should serve the client’s brand. Drones are a great tool to have in our toolbox, but just because aerial footage is eye catching doesn’t mean we can stop there. Keeping the clients message and brand in mind no matter what tools we are using will result in a more satisfied client.

About the author

Ryan Antrim

I've been a professional videographer, editor, and digital content creator for over thirteen years. While I love shooting, directing, editing, motion graphics, and all technical aspects of visual storytelling; the real juice for me is concept development and creative strategy for digital content.

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