We’ve all had that dream—the one where we are soaring high above the clouds or gliding through a cityscape at night. Thanks to 750 incredible new aerial clips by our contributor Julian Weiss, you can experience these dreams in the daytime. Weiss’s videos have been so popular in our Marketplace that we recently acquired hundreds of them for our subscription-based Unlimited Library, where members get unlimited downloads of stock video.
But we also wanted to know the secret sauce behind Weiss’s high-flying footage. How does he capture gorgeous, awe-inspiring aerials every time? Just look at these babies—we were so inspired, we created a sizzle reel:
As a film studies graduate, Weiss began his work as a director and producer for documentaries, feature films, and commercials. It was while he was working with stock media for these projects that he decided to experiment selling his own stock footage. Seizing the opportunity, Weiss recognized that other filmmakers could benefit from the unused footage from his productions. Since joining the VideoBlocks contributor community, Weiss has become one of the top-selling filmmakers in the Marketplace.
To get answers to our burning questions about his techniques and creative process, we reached out to Weiss for an interview. Here’s what he had to say.
VideoBlocks: What type of gear do you use for your aerial videos?
Weiss: There is no so-called best camera; every camera has its pros and cons and should be chosen based on the story and shooting conditions. And that of course counts for all equipment in general.
For aerial shots higher than 200 meters and longer ranges, I rent a helicopter with a gyro-stabilized camera solution such as the cineflex. For aerial content lower than 200 meters, I mostly use a carbon fiber self-build quadcopter. However, I also used a DJI S900 Hexacopter and a DJI Phantom.
Depending on what I’m shooting, I try to pick the right camera. I often use the Red Epic or ARRI Alexa, but also smaller, more compact cameras such as the Lumix GH4, Sony a7R2, or GoPros.
VideoBlocks: How have emerging video technologies, such as drones, changed your approach or workflow?
Weiss: Drones have definitely changed the game. Back in the day, we used camera cranes a lot, which was way more limiting and time consuming than using drones. But there are still many situations where cranes make total sense, like indoors and studio productions.
Most importantly, no matter which technology we’re using now or in the future, story and composition matter most, and I don’t see that changing.
VideoBlocks: What are your favorite locations to shoot or favorite times of day?
Weiss: I don’t really have a favorite one—I like variety and new challenges. Working with models in a studio is so different from shooting content outdoors in the forest. The key, for me, is when I’m sitting back at the editing desk reviewing the footage, and I can say to myself: “There’s nothing I could have done better.”
VideoBlocks: What do you think makes for a great shot when you’re filming stock?
Weiss: For stock footage used in commercials, I would say that artistic quality combined with perfection is the key in my eyes, and if you’re able to tell a story within 10-15 seconds that is both thrilling and moving, then you might have created a bestseller. That always has to be the target, since 70-80% of your income is generated by your bestsellers. This means that one truly amazing shot will always beat 100 average shots. So having something artistically unique combined with perfection on the technical side is ideal, and if you have that quality in quantity, then it’s even better.
VideoBlocks: What’s your favorite aerial footage that you’ve shot recently and why?
Weiss: I was shooting a steam engine train crossing a bridge at sunset, and I was only going to get one shot if I wanted it to be just the right time and perfect light.
So I waited there for two hours, and I knew I’d have to get it exactly right in only one take. It was pretty difficult because I had to be in the air before the train crossed the bridge, and I needed to find the perfect time to approach and at the correct speed while flying over the train.
Download Weiss’s video of an old steam engine train at sunset
Luckily, everything went perfectly. In that moment, I realized that this shot had great potential to become a bestseller—and it did, quickly. So, that’s one of my favorite shots because it was so difficult to get it all perfect, and there was nothing that I could have done better.
|Explore More Aerials|