Alex Hesketh
Alex Hesketh
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View from the top – enhancing your PR video with top shots, drones and helicopters

By Rory Green


Video has never been so popular, but neither has there been so much competition for viewers. To ensure the best audience figures we recommend trying to add as much production value to your video as budget allows – and aerial footage is a great way of doing this.

It works particularly well as an opening shot; not only is a view from on high an effective establishing technique, but it can also add some cinematic gloss to your video. What you want to do at the start of a video is to grab your audience’s attention and if they’re not engaged within the first 10 seconds they’re more likely to stop watching completely.

We recently made a highlights video for Founders Forum, an organisation that promotes global entrepreneurs. This was a huge event that took place in the impressive Grove Hotel. In order to show off the scale of the location we started the video with some aerial footage, as you can see in the video below it works really well.

If you like the look of that video you might be interested in considering a few options for getting a view from the top!

  • Climb!

If you can find a high-up vantage point (and don’t mind heights!) you just need to put in some leg work!

In this video we knew we wanted to show the amount of people filling Regent Street, therefore we decided to set up our time lapse camera in a tall building that overlooked the street.

The great thing about this is that its free! Although, unless you have recced the location you may not know in advance if it’s possible to get the shot.

  • Cherry Picker

If the location does not have any suitable vantage points, then you could consider hiring a cherry picker to get your aerial shot. Obviously, you need to get permission to use one in your chosen location a cherry picker, but it’s a great option as you have control of where it is placed.

  • Low cost drones

In the past, aerial footage would have been out of reach for small budgets, however in recent years there have been developments in technology which mean there are aerial options that suit all budgets.

I’ve recently been experimenting with some miniature drones which are quite new to market. They’re retailing for under £300 pounds you can get one of these and whilst they do not provide the same quality and control of the more expensive drones the results are perfectly acceptable for online content. Since they can only reach heights of 400ft (still pretty high!) they also have the added bonus of not requiring a permit.

  • Professional drones

If you have a bit more of a budget and want the assured quality of your drone footage it would be wise to consider using a professional drone. Controlling a professional drone requires skill and practice so usually you would also hire a pilot, meaning that the film crew can concentrate on getting great shots on terra firma! Professional drone operators need to operate under a license and there are strict controls when it comes to filming near people, so here you are balancing quality of footage with logistics and cost.

  • Helicopter

There are certain times when all the options above are not suitable and only a helicopter will do!

In the video above we were required to show the scale of the ship. In order to do this we knew we would need some aerial footage. With the ship being out in the ocean and the weather unpredictable, drones were a no-go.

Another example of when a helicopter would be more suitable would be if drone filming is not allowed. Over highly populated areas such as cities drone permits are extremely difficult (if not impossible) to get.

In this video, drones were not allowed above the Trafford Centre, luckily enough the whole shoot was based around filming a helicopter! So being the resourceful people we are at Shout! we sent a camera operator up in the helicopter to film.

If you want to know more about how aerial footage can help your PR campaign get in touch with me at rory@shoutcommunications.co.uk.

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