Drones in travel video marketing: check our interview with travel video expert Greg Brand from Travizeo.
While I was researching how drones are changing tourism marketing, World Travel Market‘s consultant Ewan MacLeod recommended I check out Travizeo.
I hadn’t heard of them, so I watched their videos and it was such a pleasant surprise!
I liked their focus on telling authentic and engaging stories about the places and people they visited and met, and the careful way they were using drone footage to support the storytelling.
And having often dreamed of traveling for a living, I just couldn’t resist to the temptation of interviewing them!
Travizeo, founded 6 years ago by Greg Brand and Carole Charreteur, is a niche travel video agency providing great travel videos to travel companies and DMOs (destination marketing organizations) across the globe.
Greg and Carole have filmed on 5 continents in over 50 countries, from safaris in South Africa to ski resorts high up in the French Alps, from Brazil’s wild Iguassu Falls to Bedouin breakfasts in the searing heat of a Dubai desert.
They also produce videos for travel trade operators such as World Travel Market London, Latin America and Arabian Travel Market.
In this very interesting interview, Greg talks about what they do for a living, why they incorporated drones into their business, how they use drones in their productions, the pros and cons of drones in travel marketing, their equipment, and much more.
After you enjoy their show reel, don’t miss Greg’s tips on traveling with drones and his funny encounter with Kenyan airport security!
- Greg, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your and Carole’s background?
- When did you start traveling and shooting for a living?
- What is Travizeo? What do you do exactly?
- When did you start using drones?
- How much drone footage do you use in your travel videos? Are you planning to integrate more drone footage in your future videos?
- What brought you to use drones?
- What, in your experience, are the pros and cons of using drones and drone footage in your job? What is the added value of drones in travel video?
- You get to use your drones abroad and in some extraordinary places, how do you approach local permissions and regulations?
- How do you see drones in travel video content? Is it a fashion, a temporary trend, a game-changing technology or something else?
- What drone-related equipment do you use (drones, cameras, apps, etc)?
- Where did you use drones for your show-reel video above?
- What are the drone accessories you always travel with?
- Did you ever experience problems in traveling with drones?
- Do you have tips for tourists traveling with drones?
- What was the most exciting place you shot with drones?
The Interview With Greg Brand – Travizeo
Carole and I are both South Africans based in Brighton here in the UK. Carole studied retail travel and moved to France for a year while I finished my degree in video production and media studies in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Just over 7 years ago we both moved to Brighton and this has been our base ever since.
When we arrived Carole continued working within the travel industry and I tried to find work as a camera operator and editor, but finding full-time employment during the recession was not an easy task, so I started freelancing, which ended up working out in my favour 😉
2. When did you start traveling and shooting for a living?
Once I began freelancing I picked up a client called Propellernet, who are an SEO agency. After finishing a few videos for them, Propellernet asked me to do some videos for their clients, one of which was a travel company called Mark Warner holidays. It wasn’t long before I found myself on an island in Greece, shooting interviews and cutaways on the beach.
I also realised I would need an assistant for this shoot, but didn’t have the budget to hire one, so I asked Carole to join me.
By the end of that week, Carole was off shooting B-roll and doing such a great job of it, we decided this is what we wanted to do for the rest of our lives, so Carole quit her job and we started Travizeo.
3. What is Travizeo? What do you do exactly?
Travizeo creates engaging and cinematic content, and online marketing campaigns, exclusively for the travel and tourism industry.
When we started the company, there was no one else doing this. Figuring out what had to be done and how to go about it was an ongoing struggle, but an enjoyable one I must add.
We said to ourselves that we did not want to be just another production company, delivering videos to clients and leaving them to try and figure out the rest.
We wanted to offer an end to end service, but at a more affordable rate.
Previously SME travel companies would have to use big London agencies and production houses (and the price tags that came with them) for what could be a simple and affordable web video project.
Some smaller companies would try and use students, who most of the time don’t have the experience or professionalism, resulting in less than adequate video marketing content.
We needed to be somewhere in between, and able to offer high-quality production and effective campaigns, but without the traditional production price tag.
So DSLR’s and Drones were the kind of technological advancements that got us really excited since we were able to travel like normal guests, but still be able to carry everything we needed with us to create high-quality content.
We were very early adopters of YouTube and Video SEO, which in itself was quite a struggle back then, having travel companies and clients laugh at the idea of running a YouTube campaign. 6 years later, those same companies are knocking at our door, asking when we can kick-start their YouTube campaign.
Our work is generally broken into two main categories now, with our main body of work being focused on Leisure Travel and Tourism.
Travel is truly an experiential activity and many people travel for many different reasons.
It’s our job to connect travel brands with travellers in an authentic, engaging and emotional way. We try and tell stories that people can identify with or just be inspired by.
This way travellers are able to connect with a brand on a deeper level and potentially become brand ambassadors, which as we all know, is the best kind of marketing you can have.
This might be through montage, or narrative based cinematic films, or sometimes presenters and social influencers such as YouTubers and bloggers.
We personally connect these “tastemakers” with like-minded brands, enabling collaborative projects where both the YouTubers and the brands benefit equally, from the professional content and a far-reaching and engaged audience.
The 2nd area where we do a lot of work is with the travel trade.
Here we developed our unique ‘same day’ video content which is where we shoot and edit an event highlight video in a single day and have that video edited and uploaded to YouTube by the time the doors close at the event.
This enables our clients to share the day’s exciting activities with all the attendees, as well as build interest and increase attendance for the very next day of the event.
Currently, we create the official same day videos for World Travel Market London, Latin America and the Arabian Travel Market, with a few more annual events being added to our portfolio later this year.
These are some of the biggest travel events in the world and we are proud to be so close to the industry we love so much, not only shooting and telling stories for B2C but also for B2B.
4. When did you start using drones?
I purchased my first Phantom 2 in December of 2013 and was immediately hooked. I’d been watching UAV’s develop for a while before that, but was never really interested until the Phantom 2 and Zenmuse gimbals arrived.
The first time I saw footage coming from a GoPro3 and Zenmuse H3-2D, was when I knew we were in for some exciting times ahead.
I made a little How-To video after getting my Phantom 2 and this is still one of our most popular videos on YouTube.
5. How much drone footage do you use in your travel videos? Are you planning to integrate more drone footage in your future videos?
Currently, we might have as little as 5-10% drone shots in any video.
We feel that aerial footage should still be used in the same way it always has, carefully and for the purpose of telling a more compelling story.Aerial footage should be used carefully & for the purpose of telling a more compelling story, says Greg Brand of @travizeoClick To Tweet
At the end of the day, our main aim is to create engaging content for our clients and their audiences, so if that means using no drone footage or using only drone footage, then so be it.
We have never tried to squeeze in as much drone footage as possible, purely because we think it looks great.
Drone footage has become ubiquitous so when I see travel videos which are only drone shots over a few locations, I’m left feeling even less likely to do the same.
However great some of those videos might be, all they do is show me what my holiday would be like… if I were a bird.
6. What brought you to use drones?
More than anything, I think it was the developments with gimbals that got us into investing in UAV technology.
We had used full sized helicopters before on our travel shoots, but each time (since we never had a budget for a CineFlex) I found myself hanging precariously out of a chopper thinking, there must be a better way than this.
The whole premise behind using aerial footage for us, is to give the viewers something that they might not have seen before, and once the gimbals allowed us to give a real (and stable) bird’s eye view of the world, this was clearly going to be the way forward.
7. What, in your experience, are the pros and cons of using drones and drone footage in your job? What is the added value of drones in travel video?
Shooting experiential travel content is, in most cases, very much a run and gun type of production scenario, so packing light and being able to adapt to different filming situations quickly and effortlessly is absolutely essential.
Filming with drones however, is something that cannot be done in a rush. It’s essential for any pilot to be calm, collected and very aware of his or her surroundings before any flight.
Having a director or production manager or even a client trying to hurry things along, is certainly not going to end well.
With our type of work, there is obviously a lot of travel involved, so from the start, we researched endlessly into what type of equipment gave us the best quality vs. the smallest packing size and least amount of weight.
This is pretty much the case with all production work, the higher the quality you are trying to achieve, the heavier the equipment tends to be, so our aim was to find that perfect in-between.
With the advent of the Phantom 2 and Zenmuse gimbal, it was pretty much a no-brainer once we realised that the P2 could fit into a backpack and be used as carry on.
We have since upgraded to the Inspire and this, unfortunately, needs to travel as checked luggage, so a fairly large flight case has now taken the place of one of our checked bags, but this again was a long debated discussion here in the Travizeo office.
After seeing the quality we were able to achieve with the Inspire, we knew we had made the right choice.
The outcome of this though, meant that we would have to drastically scale down the packing of our own personal items and clothing, so nowadays, after 2 weeks on the road with the Travizeo team, things can get a little…smelly 🙂
The advantages of carrying a quadcopter with you certainly outweigh the disadvantages though, as you are able to capture some truly stunning sceneries and show the expanse of certain areas, which before would not have been possible on a smaller budget.
8. You get to use your drones abroad and in some extraordinary places, how do you approach local permissions and regulations?
UAV regulations changed so much from country to country over the last year, so we find the best way is to use local pilots.
They are the most knowledgeable and have great insight into beautiful and safe locations for flying, plus they have great knowledge about local weather and best conditions for flight.
The weather can change in an instant in some places, so knowing what signs to look for can save you a world of trouble.
We are always on the lookout for more pilots around the world, so anyone reading this, who is not based in the UK, should please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If we are not able to fly for some reason, then we try and purchase stock footage.
Stock footage has changed so much over the last few years, but for some reason, it still holds a few bad connotations with old school clients.
A few years back, stock video was very recognizable by its difference in quality and style. These days I would challenge anyone to try and pick out which clips are stock and which are not, from any big productions. If used correctly, stock can help you tell a much better story.
9. How do you see drones in travel video content? Is it a fashion, a temporary trend, a game-changing technology or something else?
It certainly was a game changer 3 years ago, but there is the fallout to any industry being democratised. Just like DSLR’s put the film look in the hands of everyone, so did drones take beautiful aerial cinematography from the hands of the few, and place it firmly in the hands of the many.
I’m certainly an advocate for putting technology in the hands of everyone, but the downside to this is that those beautiful aerial shots that used to make us sit up and take notice are now visible everywhere and have therefore lost a little bit of their wow factor.
All said and done though, I’d rather have it this way, since this has opened up some serious development in areas we never dreamed possible.
Thanks to drones being made affordable, companies that produce this type of technology are now able to fund and develop new ideas and push technological developments in filmmaking and other areas.
I think without drones, we would never have seen development in equipment (or certainly not as quick) such as the Ronin or Osmo. Drones will forever be part of the travel video landscape going forward.
10. What drone-related equipment do you use (drones, cameras, apps, etc)?
We mostly use the DJI Inspire 1 with X3 4K camera (potentially our next upgrade will be to the X5 or X5R) with the standard controller and DJI GO App.
With our previous Phantom 2 it was a constant struggle having to use loads of different cables and batteries with the older AVL58 FPV systems, and even modified Futaba controllers with the first Lightbridge system.
Finally having an all in one system like the Inspire 1, that is easy to use and easy to transport, was a breath of fresh air. An extra piece of equipment we could never do without is our Polar Pro filter set.
My favourite App has to be UAV Forecast, which gives you great info (apart from the general weather conditions) like estimated number of visible satellites for GPS lock as well as overall visibility in your current area.
11. Where did you use drones for your show-reel video above?
12. What are the drone accessories you always travel with?
Definitely my set of Polar Pro filters (ND 8, 16, 32, PL 1, ND8/PL & ND16/PL). Being able to come down by 5 stops really helps us get closer to the optimal 1/50th shutter for 25fps 4K video on those bright sunny days.
The added polarizer is great for capturing those lovely saturated landscapes, moody clouds and eliminating harsh reflections from any large body of water.
Most importantly, filters help us achieve the correct shutter speed for cinematic motion blur.
13. Did you ever experience problems in traveling with drones?
To date, we have had no serious problems traveling with our UAV’s.
We are constantly questioned by airport security about the TB47’s in our hand luggage, but most (I reiterate “most”) airport staff are now familiar with the rules and regulations that all LiPo’s must be carried onto the plane (as opposed to being checked-luggage) which makes complete sense.
If one of my LiPo’s decided to call it a day, I’d much rather have that LiPo in a place where I can easily reach it, like the overhead locker.
It was a pretty smart move on DJI’s part to make sure the TB47’s didn’t exceed 100Wh, meaning you are allowed to travel with as many as you like in your hand luggage. We tend to carry around 5 TB47’s with us, which is more than enough for 1 day’s filming normally.
One of my favourite experiences with airport security had to have been in Kenya where my bag was X-ray’ed and I was promptly pulled to one side by a very curious security guard who ordered me to open my flight case and pull out my quadcopter.
After a brief explanation that this was a remote controlled helicopter, the security guard, very puzzled but with a very serious face, looked me dead in the eye and asked, “but where do you sit?”.
14. Do you have tips for tourists traveling with drones?
Always get to the airport earlier than you need to. If you are carrying LiPo’s (as you should be) your bag will 99.99% of the time get flagged by the X-ray machine and will require an additional search by airport staff.
Most importantly, don’t be an A-hole about it. These people are just doing their job, which is ultimately to keep you safe, so having a little patience and being friendly and willing to explain why you have a bunch of “printer cartridges” in your bag, will go a very long way.
It is also very important to remember to do a full IMU calibration and GPS calibration after every airline flight.
In our case, the Inspire flies as checked luggage and is therefore, subject to multiple conveyor belt rides, X-rays and who knows what sort of other stuff. (They don’t call them baggage throwers for nothing).
Added to the fact that you are now geographically in a completely different part of the globe, it is muchos importante to let your drone figure out exactly where it is, before trying to fly.
I’ve heard too many stories about people not waiting for a good satellite connection, and then having the Go-Home function kick in, when their home position was still set to the last place they flew… on the other side of the globe!
15. What was the most exciting place you shot with drones?
I’d have to say my favourite, but also most nerve-wracking flights, have been in Brazil.
I was lucky enough to stay in the national park at Iguassu falls, which meant I could get out to the falls before the park opened and any tourists arrived. Some of those sunrise shots over the falls, I think, will be hard to beat.
This is also where we had one of our most nerve-wracking moments as well.
This was a few years ago when I was still flying with the P2, Zenmuse gimbal, GoPro3+ and AVL58 video transmitter/receiver for FPV.
My spotter was keeping an eye on the P2 and lost contact for a few seconds while trying to sit down next to me, at the same time he bumped the video receiver and we lost FPV. Those next few minutes, which seemed like an eternity, saw our whole crew staring into the sky trying to spot the quad. Luckily one of our guides had great eyesight and was like “what are you guys looking for, the drone? There it is.”
Another fantastic flight for me was getting to fly around Christo Redentor, or Christ the Redeemer statue that overlooks Rio de Janeiro.
We were working with the Brazilian tourist board, so managed to get all the necessary permissions for the flight, or so we thought.
It turns out that the area we would need to take off from at the foot of the statue was actually controlled by the church, and our permissions were from the state.
So our guide spent the day frantically sorting out the paperwork from both the church and the state, and we were allowed to fly early the next morning before the statue officially opened to guests.
It was, unfortunately, a bit of a misty morning, so we couldn’t fly very far from the statue due to decreased visibility, but we were able to still get a few amazing shots of one of the most iconic landmarks in the world.
Many thanks Greg for sharing your expertise and views on drones in travel video marketing!
Find out more about Travizeo:
- Website: Travizeo (currently being redesigned)
- Travizeo on Facebook
- Travizeo on Twitter
- Travizeo on Instagram
- Travizeo on YouTube
- Travizeo on Vimeo
(Image credits: Travizeo)