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How To Combine Drone & Ground-Level 4K Cameras To Make Great-Looking Auto Commercials

A Case Study On Producing TV Advertisements For Jayco RV

Jayco is an Indiana-Based Manufacturer who builds High-Quality RVs, Camping Trailers, Travel Trailers, Fifth Wheels, Motorhomes And Toy Haulers. We love collaborating on their projects because we share these same values:  Always make product excellence your number one priority, and treat everyone the way you'd like to be treated.  

Every year, Jayco sends out commercial footage of their latest models to all of the members of their worldwide dealer network.  They came to our production company with the following directive: How can we make footage of our RV Autos look different than years past? With a limited production schedule we knew we couldn't travel to a beautiful mountain location for three days, and our budget didn't allow for a helicopter gyro rig like the one used in this Auto Commercial for Red Bull.

Our Solution?  We decided to combine Aerial shots from a 4K Drone Camera with our beautiful Sony a7s 4K images from the ground level.  When shooting this "Running Footage" for commercials, we had 5 guidelines we followed that made the shoot a success. Keep reading to find out how we accomplished this.


5 tips on shooting With Aerial & Ground Crews

1. Dress Up Your Location 

As the ideal mountain location was not available to us, we had to work within the area and shoot locations we had accessible to us. It's a wide open world out there, and there's beauty to be found no matter where you are shooting. To the practiced Director's eye, shooting on country roads in Northern Indiana carries a particular aesthetic, and one that we could make work. We combined these road locations with a historic 1900s mill, allowing us to capture the aesthetic of not only Jayco's products but also the lifestyle beckoning to their clients.

2. Shoot on the Perfect Day (Or Close)

Making sure to shoot on a prime, sunny autumn day was the key to our success. Although we only shot in one day, we had planned a three day window to be able to select the perfect day at a time of year where sun is not guaranteed. While the day turned our to be bitter cold, as you can see the sun was shining in all of her lens-flared glory, giving us exactly the type of shots you'd expect from a clear, sunny fall day.

3. Use the Right Equipment

Another factor to making this shoot unique and creatively effective for Jayco was our ability to utilize the right equipment for the creative. We wanted to capitalize on the fall season's rich, vibrant colors on the trees, we definitely wanted to use 4K HD Video Capture for both the ground-level shots and the aerials, and we needed to be efficient and shoot both aerials and ground-level at the same time.  To meet these criteria, we used an Sony A7S camera combined with a Shogun touch-screen recorder.  Our lens system used Canon L-series glass.  The Aerial Shots were captured using a DJI Inspire Quadcopter with 4K Camera & 3-Axis Gimbal. This mobile 4K camera allowed us to achieve a high-end lens solution while still capturing the essence of the products on a beautiful sunny fall day.

4. Add 4K High Definition Aerial Footage

Why did we decide to mix in drone footage? Aerial footage gives a filmmaker another tool to add more variety and creativity to their work, and professional Drones give the option of aerial footage for clients operating within a more modest budget. For a Director to be able to be more creative within a reasonable price range is always a beautiful thing! Aerial videographer adds a completely different creative storytelling device to a project. A dolly track can allow viewers to glide from side to side or forward to back. A jib gives filmmakers (and subsequently viewers) the ability to see high up in trees and move down 20 feet to a ground level shot on a road. Aerial footage is another tool providing a way for us to see things from a unique vantage point.  A large part of why film captivates us is that it can be shot from a different perspective then that which we see with our eyes. Viewing the world around us from a new angle, an angle we can’t experience ourselves on a daily basis, creates visual excitement. Anytime where you are looking to extend art and push boundaries you want to see things from a different angle. A unique perspective.  A distinctive voice. This is the essence of visual storytelling.

Looking at aerial footage was a logical move for us because big name automotive marketing already uses it.  As an RV company, our client didn't have the budget that other auto makers like Lexus, Audi or BMW have to spend, but the professional 4K Drone option we were able to capture beautiful aerials for our client's tv commercials.

A large part of why film captivates us is because the images are from a different perspective then what we see with our eyes. Viewing the world around us from a new angle, an angle we can’t experience ourselves on a daily basis, creates visual excitement. When you are trying to extend art and push boundaries, you want to see things from a different angle. A unique perspective. A distinctive voice. This is the essence of visual storytelling.

5. Use Experienced Crew & Support

Put simply, you can shoot great-looking footage with a number of different cameras, and everyone gets lucky once in a while, but in planning a video production combining a large number of vehicles, two different footage capturing systems (aerial and ground-level) you need not only the best equipment, you have to assemble a great team.The types of shots we wanted with the drone involved shooting Nine RVs simultaneously on the same winding road loop. Coordination and communication was key with this shoot as we had to keep track of 9 RVs, each with a different, inexperienced production driver in order to know when we could send the next RV on the loop. We had to be sure the drone had time and space to cross in front of the vehicles at the perfect time in order to showcase each one from left to right, from the front, and the money shot: getting that “winding road shot” of a vehicle traveling from above. Making sure you can get simultaneous shots of vehicles boils down to one factor: using experienced people. 

Drone Media Chicago had the experience, professional 4K equipment, and knowledge to pull off the aerial shots under pressure.  Cinematographer Jamieson Mulholland used the sun and beautiful autumn foliage to make the ground-level shots look amazing.  And working with Assistant Director Quinn Wilson and Assistant Drone Operator Garret Brubaker made all the difference in our ability to communicate, manage vehicles, and combine Drone & Ground-Level 4K Cameras for these RV Auto TV Spots. 

We know that mixing drone footage and running footage made Jayco’s RV Auto TV Commercials more dynamic, more visually interesting, and more effective to our client’s viewers.  We hope you enjoyed this look into how to you can mix drone footage with running footage when shooting automotive commercials, are you ready to watch the commercial yet?  

Watch how we combined Drone Aerials and Sony a7s 4K footage in our storytelling for the Jayco RV Commercial Production below!

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