Drone Video Services

Drones & Tourism: A Whale of a Drone Tale



When Scott Meis, avid photographer and VP of Marketing for Clipper Vacations, needed something “different” for promoting the upcoming summer orca watching excursions, the idea of a drone to get a different perspective came immediately to mind.

Scott and his team set out to document the journey, from Seattle to the waters off the San Juan Islands, to show that the experience on board a Clipper vessel was as fun as the orca watching itself. And, of course, there was the possibility of getting a different perspective of the orcas, too.

We caught up with Scott after the shoot and him about the decision to use drone video for this application.

Drove Video Services: Why a drone for this application?

Scott Meis: Ahead of the start of our popular orca whale watching season that runs between Seattle and the San Juan Islands, I sat down with my team and one of our vessel captains of 20+ years, Jason Mihok, to plan out some storytelling. We immediately landed on the need for some great video footage to help convey the magic of the journey. Text, great images and regular video alone were simply not going to suffice. Having grown up in this area of the country, I wanted the right type of video footage that I knew would truly bring the experience to life. Anything less than the best would be a disservice to helping other PNW locals and world travelers alike truly understand how unique and special of an experience we are offering.

Drove Video Services: What is the drone doing for you that wouldn’t be possible otherwise (for example, could use a helicopter except two expensive, more dangerous, scare the whales, etc.)?

Scott Meis: Drone footage opens up an entire world of new perspectives and opportunity to leverage interesting creative storytelling angles. Anyone can go and purchase some decent flat orca whale stock footage, but that’s not what I wanted. I envisioned footage that would provide a nice high angle above the whales (of course while maintaining and respecting our agreed upon filming distance with the Pacific Whale Watching Association) and also some epic footage to provide perspective on our San Juan Clipper vessel against the sheer beauty of the Islands. Furthermore, yes, a drone is far less disruptive and an incredibly affordable way to capture cinematic-quality footage.

Footage and videos like this can be the difference between being a good and an excellent content brand.

Drove Video Services: What did you learn about working with a drone this time that you didn’t know, understand or expect?

Scott Meis: I knew enough to bring in experts who had tons of experience with various action-oriented drone shoots. For this particular shoot, I worked with Seattle-based director Collin Monda along with the incredible talent from Motion State (fair warning, your jaw will drop when you see their site reel) and Nick Kolias to run the show. It was incredible to watch this crew in action. Being on the water with a $125k drone rig that can only hover over the water for 10 minutes is enough to make anyone shake in their boots. Except for these guys. I was impressed with the flight and camera coordination and quite frankly had no idea how testy both drone software and gimbals can be at times. Furthermore, I was intrigued by how fast the drone could be landed on a pinpoint. To be able to pop up for a shot, capture what you need and be back down in a matter of minutes is beyond impressive.

Drone Video Services: Do you see further drone applications for Clipper Vacations? 

Scott Meis: Absolutely. We had done a small drone shoot last year with one of our vessels but as the Northwest Travel experts with packages and excursions across the region, it’s our job to create quality, timely content that inspires and drives consumers to say “that…I need to go do THAT right now!” Despite some logistics needed around FAA flight plan filing, etc. the process is relatively straightforward and I can’t wait to get another shoot on the books. Footage and videos like this can be the difference between being a good and an excellent content brand.

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