Matter Video has been using DJI drones for video and aerial photography for a while, focused on the wedding market primarily.
Q. Daniel, thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Could you tell us a bit about your business?
I officially started Matter Video in 2011 and have been doing it full time since then. We create wedding videos as well as projects for non-profits and businesses. We love telling people’s stories through a visual medium. We primarily work in the San Francisco Bay Area, but we also on projects around the world.
Q. How did you get started in using drones for video and other aspects of your business?
In 2013 we shot a wedding in Santa Cruz with a photographer named Philip Lima. Philip happens to be one of the best drone “pilots” that I know. He brought his drone to the wedding and captured some video for me. It was the first time I saw a drone used at a wedding. I knew I had to get one. We purchased a DJI Phantom 2 and a GoPro, and used it for about a year (20+ weddings and various other projects). It completely changed the way we approached videography. It sounds cliche, but suddenly every type of shot was possible. The drone was a dolly, jib and provided perspectives we had only previously dreamed about. We sold our Phantom 2 at the beginning of the year and bought the DJI Inspire 1. The Inspire is yet another game changer. Its functionality is insane. The fact that you can completely control the video controls in the air is amazing. It is so smooth and fluid. We used it on a wedding last week and it provided some of my favorite drone footage to date. It is insane.
Q. How have your customers reacted to the use of drones?
Customers love the drone footage. I have several wedding clients who have booked us based solely on our drone footage. To be honest, only a small percentage of the footage in a given wedding video is of the aerial variety. I primarily use it for establishing shots and unique accents. I try not to overuse it. That being said, it gives our videos a unique look that our customers have raved about.
Q. Do many other videographers that you know use drones in their work today?
I wouldn’t say there are many, but there are a handful whose work I love. Philip Lima, as I previously mentioned, is one of the best drone pilots I’ve seen. Vinny Minton from Imperial Productions (Bay Area), White in Revery (Florida/Colorado), and Aqua Vivus (San Diego) are some of my favorite videographers using drones today. They push the limits on what is possible, without over-saturating their videos with aerial footage. It’s easy to go overboard, but they have great balance and creativity.
Q. Do you have any tips for others trying to use drones for photography or videography?
My 2 basic tips would be to practice a ton and don’t go overboard in the amount of drone footage you include in your projects. Because the drones (especially of the DJI variety) are essentially ready-to-fly when you buy them, it’s easy to get a false sense of confidence. It’s vital that videographers practice flying their drones in open spaces a ton before using them on projects. Learn how to fly without GPS and FPV aide. Learn how to safely follow subjects and how to pan smoothly. Practice is essential, not only for safety reasons, but to ensure that you are creating the best video content possible. When I edit, I try not to over use the drone footage. It’s easy to get carried away with sweeping landscape shots and captivating skyscapes, but I think that the cliche “less is more” is quite apt when editing. Use drone footage as a a creative accent in your videos, but focus your content of the video’s subject (a wedding couple, business, etc) rather than the cool aerial footage you captured. People value story over sweeping drone footage.
Q. How does the accessibility of drones to the average consumer affect professionals?
I think that talent and creativity will always rise to the top. That’s why practice is essential. Learn how to fly safely, while capturing content in the most creative way you can. Look at other people’s work online. Allow others to inspire you (excuse the pun). I think competition is great. I welcome it. It makes me better.