March 26, 2018

Reach Sensational Heights with Aerial Video

This article was originally published in March 2018, and last updated February 2022. 


drone shot of highway cutting through trees in autumn using aerial videography technique

Aerial video production is the latest trend to move from the big screen to the small screen, and its use is growing exponentially.

As cinematography standards in online storytelling continue to rise, aerial video footage can help your brand fly miles above the rest (terrible pun, I know.)


Should Aerial Videography be a Part of your Brand’s Marketing Strategy?


The short answer is yes. The first reason is that it has nearly universal appeal.

While drones are new, this fascination with going outside ourselves is not.

Like most trends, aerial imagery harnesses the power of what it means to be human: to hope, to dream, to live a larger-than-life life.

How long has this gone on? 

Quick History Lesson on Aerial Visuals:

It was in Paris, France in 1783 that the first untethered manned hot air balloon flight was performed. The hot air balloon was the first successful human-carrying flight technology in history. What inspired French brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier to develop the hot air balloon? They dreamt about human flight. They even thought about capturing clouds and hanging on them from a basket.

world's oldest aerial photograph, taken from a hot air balloon circa 1783














You can follow that same fascination with the Wright Brothers inventing the airplane, through today, when we see people go skydiving, climb mountains, crave the corner office in skyscrapers, and prefer the window seat on planes.

It’s for these reasons people find aerial footage so exciting.  It allows them to see things from a completely different perspective. It’s as close as they can get next to flying over the landscape or city themselves.

We see incredible aerial footage in movies all the time. These breathtaking shots introduce the audience to the location of the scene in a dramatic way. The view is so stunning that often, no narrative is necessary. The view speaks for itself.

The Uses of Drone Videography

Aerial footage has proven to be so impactful that drones were invented and paired with cameras to achieve the same affect without having to ride a plane. Drones are a much cheaper alternative to hiring a full-sized helicopter and commissioning a licensed pilot to ferry the photographer and all their equipment.

As Scenic Road’s managing Director of Photography, Kevin Schwarzenberger, points out, people have come to expect the use of drones:

“Any story, scene or even content online involving running, biking, mountain hiking, water sports etc…people are now used to aerial perspectives based on how prevalent camera mounted drone systems are. Another reason to use them is that these systems have enabled visual storytellers the ability to minimize crew in many camera movement scenarios that were previously only possible with large camera mounted arms, jibs and cranes.”

Drones are also the safer option as they’re unmanned. No one has to physically fly up in the air during bad weather conditions just to report the views from above.

aerial videography of a boat on a lake in Montana near a mountain

Award-winning cinematographers are using drones to push the limits of aerial footage and enhance their video storytelling.

The Technical Aspects of Flying a Drone

If your marketing team wants to incorporate aerial footage in your visual storytelling with drone videography, make sure you stay up to date with drone rules and regulations. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has clear guidelines regarding pilot license requirements.

To fly a drone or unmanned aircraft system (UAS), you must get a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA.

You must be at least 16 years old and will need to pass an aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center.

You must also undergo Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) security screening. The following are UAS Operating Rules:

  • Unmanned aircraft must weigh less than 55 pounds, including payload, at takeoff
  • Fly in Class G airspace*
  • Keep the unmanned aircraft within visual line-of-sight*
  • Fly at or below 400 feet*
  • Fly during daylight or civil twilight*
  • Fly at or under 100 mph*
  • Yield right of way to manned aircraft*
  • Do not fly directly over people*
  • Do not fly from a moving vehicle, unless in a sparsely populated area*

*These rules are subject to waiver. Certain other restrictions apply.

Enhancing Your Storytelling with Aerial Footage


Drones capture breathtaking aerial imagery that is so mesmerizing that it almost becomes a character of the story being told. Observe characters on an epic quest who must travel from the forest to the mountaintop despite horrible weather conditions. Insert a dramatic aerial shot to show the audience just how far they must journey in only a matter of days.

Aerial footage has the power to tell a compelling story through imagery alone while also taking your video content marketing to another level.

Drone shots allow you to take your audience on an adventure, resonating emotionally, and capturing their attention. From crowd fly-overs to panoramic shots, marketers can tell incredible stories with a skilled pilot and a quality drone.

Drones can enhance your storytelling by capturing angles that a manned camera could never deliver. When flown by a trained pilot, it has the flexibility to catch all the right shots, reaching heights that allow the audience to see the views they’d otherwise never be able to see, except from a plane.

drone shot of a farm

What Does Drone Video Cost?

The range is from the hundreds to the low thousands per day, every situation is unique and depends on multiple variables.  

How much footage do you need?

Are you adding a drone to a current video production project?

If you plan ahead and add it to your production schedule, the rate can be in the hundreds per day.

Rates vary according to whether your Director of Photography is a licensed drone pilot (ours is), or if you have to hire a separate drone operator and assistant.

If you decide to shoot only drone footage without any other video production, the costs will be higher.


Stay Ahead of Your Competition and Engage Your Target Audience with Aerial Video 

Whatever your industry is, you’ll find that aerial footage will add an exciting element to your videos.

Realtors can show off homes in their neighborhoods and proximity from hospitals and schools and grocery stores.   Tourism can give its audience a bird’s eye view of the entire resort from the beachfront to the hotel to the tennis courts and outdoor pools.  You can even use a drone to capture aerial footage of a successful event and its crowd of happy participants.

Ultimately, aerial footage has the power to draw in its audience and allows you to tell a story that stirs your audience’s emotions.  It shows your audience “the bigger picture.”

In an age when brands are looking for every advantage to get your attention, aerial videography is one way to stop people in their tracks.

How do you think you’ll incorporate aerial footage in your next video?

What has been your most successful use of a drone? Email me or post your thoughts on social.