Drone Shots – Like the Cherry on Top!
Here’s my latest client video, a short documentary about Kathy Lucas and her unique hybrid of jazz dance and fitness instruction. Kathy is an innovative and empowering teacher and another reason why Ithaca is such an amazing place.
When putting together the film my goals were to:
- Introduce people to the steel club as an exercise tool.
- Explain how Kathy developed the Steel Club Cabaret workshops.
- Show how Kathy’s approach empowers women of all ages to express themselves.
- Get viewers excited about taking her classes!
Our process started about nine months ago when my friend Ryan referred Kathy to me to make a short dance video of her choreography using steel clubs. I had never shot a dance video before, but I love dancing myself (I grew up doing tap, jazz, and Israeli folk dancing), and I avidly follow numerous dancers on Instagram, my favorite being Kida the Great. I realized that I could get the most dynamic footage by using my DJI Mavic Pro drone in handheld mode. This involves folding in the four arms of the drone and putting on a lightweight plastic frame that provides hand grips (the one I use is called the PolarPro Katana). By using the drone in this way, I could get the smooth, dynamic motion of a drone shot indoors at The Range, a bar and performance venue on the Ithaca Commons. The final video is almost all one continuous take!
After shooting the dance sequence, Kathy and I started discussing the idea of doing a longer video in which she would explain the development of her methodology and show one of her classes in action. So that’s exactly what we did! Several months later I filmed one of her workshops at Circus Culture, using a combination of the handheld drone for moving shots, and my Canon C300 Mark II camera on a fluid-head tripod to get close-ups and smooth pans. We also did a separate interview at Flight Voice Studio, another space where Kathy teaches.
I knew I had enough material to put together a strong video, but what would take it to the next level? A few well-placed, beautiful drone shots can really grab viewers’ attention and spark a higher level of excitement for the content. So even though we only had about fifteen minutes before Kathy had to go to another appointment, we drove a few blocks away from the dance studio to Cascadilla Gorge and I got a few shots of Kathy using the club while standing in the water, surrounded by the cascading falls.
When editing, I always start with the interview – it is the central vehicle for storytelling. On top of that framework, I placed the beautiful shots I got at the workshop as well as the original choreographed sequence we shot months earlier at The Range. And the cherry on top? Some oh-so-pretty aerial drone shots that we got during those fifteen minutes at Cascadilla Gorge. So worth it! I want to be able to create truly cinematic moments for my clients, and a drone is a relatively affordable and very effective way to accomplish this.
Since posting the video, we’ve been getting great feedback from Kathy’s community, but the most important Facebook comment to me, is this one from Kathy herself:
Grateful and truly blessed that our paths have crossed Shira. You are a deeply talented videographer who really listens to the vision and needs of the projects that are proposed. I couldn’t be happier. Thank you!Kathy Lucas, MUVZ to Inspire