May 12, 2016

4 Ways to Use a Drone to Enhance Your Business Video

Trevor Holmes

Creative

There has been an explosion of tech in the world of aerial photography. As a result, video producers can now get shots that historically only the Hollywood cinematographer elite could afford.

Here at Wistia, we got a drone, and to be honest… we don’t use it all that often. It’s loud, it’s intimidating to fly, and we’re a business that operates largely indoors. So how in the world can a software company like Wistia use a drone with a camera to help tell their story?

Over the year and a half that we’ve had a flying friend at Wistia, we’ve added new perspectives to our videos and discovered some interesting uses for this nimble machine. If you’re searching for some drone inspiration, try out one of these four shots in your next company video.

Group shot

Getting a group shot with a drone can be a memorable party trick, but it’s also just a practical way to get a large crowd in a photo.

So at your next company outing or event, get everyone outside for a group shot! You can think of the drone as a tripod in the sky. Let it hover in the air just in front of the group, or if you’re feeling ambitious, take it to the sky, and capture the scene around the group.

Either way, you won’t have to be as strategic with placing shorter and taller people. Not to mention, it’ll offer a pretty interesting bird’s-eye perspective of the group!

We stumbled upon this technique while shooting an attendee photo for WistiaFest 2015. The footage ended up being super useful when we were cutting together a video recap of the event—we reused this shot for B-roll in multiple videos.

While getting your drone group shot, we recommend capturing a combination of photos and video footage. You’ll never know when you might need a video clip or a high-resolution image of the crowd!

Handheld stabilizer

The biggest advancement in drone camera technology is the addition of the stabilizer. It’s what makes drone footage look silky smooth, even if you’re not so smooth on the control sticks. So let your drone do double duty, and use it as a handheld steadicam rig!

You can make the drone easier to manipulate by removing the propellers. Power it up, so the camera and gimbal are active, and then treat it like you would any other camera stabilizer. It may not be the most ergonomic thing to hold, but you’d be surprised what kind of shots you can get on the ground!

This is great for quick shots around your office, where a handheld DSLR would be too shaky, and a DSLR stabilizer would take too long to balance and set up.

The reveal

The reveal is one of those awesome shots that you can take to the next level with a drone. The basic idea is to either start close up to a subject, and then ’zoom out’ (fly the drone away) to expose the surroundings, or vice versa.

In this shot, we revealed what Cambridge looked like during a snowstorm. We started by hovering the drone on a medium shot. After a few seconds, we flew the drone up and away from us to reveal the larger snow scene. What a beaut.

Best part: the reveal works in reverse, too! We used the reverse reveal for a WistiaFest speaker intro video. To start out, we focused on a wide shot of the Boston skyline. Next, we panned the camera down 90 degrees and directed the drone to land.

The shot ends with a close up of the Harvard Business Review magazine (where the speaker is the Senior Editor), placed on a table in a park. Bet you weren’t expecting to land there when you first saw that skyline!

The reveal has to be the most popular shot in drone photography. For some reason though, it just never gets old. You could even combine the group shot with a reveal for a visual magnum opus.

This delightful surprise tactic is a powerful tool to have in your video production toolbox. So let your mind run wild with what kinds of scenes and scenarios you can reveal by flying the drone up, up, and away!

Neighborhood view

If you have the space to take flight around your office, you can shoot compelling footage of your office’s surroundings. By adding these types of shots into your videos, your viewers can gain a better understanding of your office’s location within a larger community or town.

We’ve filmed an aerial shot of Wistia HQ during the golden hour, pumped up WistiaFest attendees with a Boston skyline shot, and even documented a Wistian kickball game in the park outside our office.

This type of footage is ideal for quick social media video snacks or culture-focused videos. But for our video team, capturing moments like these have offered us opportunities to practice our flying techniques.


Similar to what the DSLR, GoPro, and iPhone did to the video space, drones are revolutionizing the types of shots and videos that smaller video teams can produce. The shots in this post would have been nearly impossible for us to pull off four years ago! If you’ve used a drone to capture footage from a unique vantage point, please share it with us in the comments.

As the public has adopted new drone technology, increased regulation has been introduced. So please be mindful of FAA regulations and local restrictions when flying your drone and capturing footage… and also of powerlines. ;-)

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