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Interview with Kyle Trotter, Director of Creative Video Content, Shutterstock on Using Drones for Digital Storytelling

Kyle Trotter

Kyle Trotter
Director of Creative Video Content, Shutterstock

It is no surprise that Shutterstock is leading the market for stock photos, videos, music, and vectors. They have paved the way for millions of contributors worldwide to make a living by licensing their creations.

We had a special request from the Shutterstock team to do an exclusive interview with Kyle Trotter, Director of Creative Video Content at Shutterstock.

With a brand of this scale and history, it is hard to ignore the opportunity, so here we are bringing you once in a lifetime opportunity to hear from the pros working behind the scene to make sure you are never short of creative content to use in your project or business.

In this interview, we talk in-depth with Kyle on general things surrounding the drone industry, ways how aerial photography can benefit digital storytelling, features of various Shutterstock networks, prediction about video production market, and so on.

If you are a fan of their offerings, this is the one interview you should not forget to read.

Let us cut the chase and get into the article and find out what Kyle has to say for our very dearest audience.

Welcome Kyle Trotter, Tell us something about yourself and your job at Shutterstock?

I’m the Director of Creative Video Content at Shutterstock, where I lead the company’s creative footage content strategy, including the development and launch of new products like Shutterstock Elements and Shutterstock Select.

I work closely with the product and marketing teams to develop future roadmaps for the business. Also, I lead a team of creatives in producing content marketing for global Shutterstock and PremiumBeat campaigns.

How did you initially get interested on drones?

I’ve always been excited about the potential that drone technology offers to the world of storytelling. Once I saw some of the fantastic camera work and unique shots that a drone provides content creators, I was hooked.

Drones allow you to capture new perspectives and engage an audience in a completely new way. Shots that would have been extremely difficult in the past, become affordable and within reach of almost anyone. Drone technology changed the game for what videographers could capture, saving time and money in post-production, and I’ve been exploring drones ever since.

What is the demand for video production on stock footage now?

The market for stock footage is continually growing in tandem with the increased demand from consumers for fresh content at lightning speeds. According to Nielsen, people spend more than 10 hours a day looking at screens. This unprecedented rise in digital media has led to the increased consumption of both image and video content.

Brands are turning to videos specifically for its storytelling aspects, as well as to increase engagement across social media channels and boost their marketing and advertising efforts. Creating this compelling and engaging content is crucial, but brands are often limited by budget and time restraints.

Shutterstock offers over 17 million video clips that help creators tell their unique stories for their customers. With the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for stock footage will only continue to grow as shooting content on location is no longer an option, but brands still need to deliver and finish projects. Stock is the perfect solution, and creators are only limited by their imagination to tell their stories.

What goes into making top-quality premium videos for Shutterstock Select?

Shutterstock Select is our premium tier of 4K royalty-free footage. The diverse collection of 10,000+ video clips includes exclusive content with everything from everyday moments to blockbuster action and aerial scenes. A lot of time, effort, and attention to detail were put into the creation of Shutterstock Select, which was expertly curated and created by industry professionals.

The footage is shot with top of the line equipment, like RED Epic-W and Phantom Flex 4K, which allows the footage to be as high-quality as possible. It can be costly to produce these kinds of shots, so this offering is geared towards storytellers who are looking for only the highest quality content to create with.

What are the features of Shutterstock Elements platform and how could brands leverage it?

The Shutterstock Elements collection includes over 3,000 blockbuster-quality video effects created by industry professionals, including 4K lens flares, essential transitions, and captivating video kits with smoke, fire, and explosions. We also offer detailed tutorials on how to optimize effects, which are helpful for both the casual user and the full-time professional. The Elements collection is compatible with all major video editing programs and features a wide selection of digital assets including physical effects like explosions or glass shattering.

According to eMarketer, consumers in 2020 are watching over five hours of TV and digital video content every day. Brands are responding to this trend by making video a top priority, but the competition for attention is fierce. The pressure to produce high-quality content quickly and at scale has never been higher. Elements allow creators to stand out in a crowded landscape with a smaller budget and without compromising quality.

With aerial photography getting mainstream, how do you believe filmmakers can take advantage of Shutterstock?

Filmmakers can benefit in two ways. The first is through the value Shutterstock provides. Not all filmmakers work for big production studios with massive budgets. Using assets like Shutterstock Select and Elements packs in your projects offers great production value at a fraction of the cost and time of what it would take to make the assets yourself. By saving money on production, filmmakers can leverage the financial resources elsewhere in the project.

The second way is through added income. Shutterstock is fueled by a global community of contributors- with over 1 million artists, filmmakers, musicians, and photographers in over 100 nations around the world. Most filmmakers have extra footage from a project they were working on that can easily be uploaded to Shutterstock as passive income.

Every time a customer licenses their work, they will collect earnings. There are a million different use cases for the stock, and it helps fill the diverse needs of our customers. Shutterstock has paid over $1 billion to contributors as of December 2019. Some contributors make a living off of licensing their work, and others use it as a side income. Becoming a contributor is a great way to make extra money while being creative and working on your passion project.

You have won several recognition and awards. Excellent! How did you achieve that?

I have always been interested in producing and creating work that resonates with a broader audience. So, being nominated for awards by peers in the marketing and creative industries and then going on to win, several of them have been a highlight of my career.

I’ve been fortunate to have been recognized on several occasions and dedicate much of my success to the passionate, creative, and dedicated team of individuals I get to work with on these projects. At Shutterstock, the team and I have won a number of industry awards for the work we have done including the 2019 Silver Telly Awards and the 2018 W3 Awards for our PremiumBeat commercial.

What does your current drone gear like? Did you ever before crashed a quadcopter?

I don’t own a drone myself. I leave the flying to the professionals. I’m the guy that says, “wouldn’t it be cool if we could do this,” and typically the drone pilots will take that and come back with something even better.

What have been one particularly memorable drone moments you have involved with?

We worked with a contributor to film some jogging footage in Tuscany, where we wanted to follow the runners from a close-up and then pull back and reveal the Tuscan landscape. Traditionally you may have used a technocrane for a shot like this, but we wanted to go really high – something a follow drone is perfect for. The pilots were great, and the shots came out beautiful. We celebrated with a bottle of Chianti.

What are a few of the most innovative or unique uses of drone systems have you seen businesses or people using?

Drone shots, when used to transition from more traditional framing (close-up, establishing, etc.) and then zip off our pull into sweeping wides, are a great example of what drones can accomplish with the right crew, time, and rehearsal.

Drones are a tool, and once you know the limitations and possibilities of that tool it’s really up to the creatives behind it to push those limits and surprise audiences with new perspectives and viewpoints.

Businesses have been using tech in a million different ways to solve their pain points for a long time. However, drones are a physical manifestation of these technological advancements, which makes their continued adoption by a society that much more exciting to watch.

What are your opinions on the future of automated drones to digital storytellers, videographers, cinematographers, and editors?

The recent rise of aerial technology (particularly drones having 4K cameras) has changed the production industry by providing cinema-quality, crystal-clear footage – drones can reach places and show angles airplanes and helicopters never could. Drones are not a replacement but a compliment, and it’s essential to know the limitations and advantages and use them accordingly to tell your story.

Drone industry development is expected to soar, and the future of filming content with drones looks very promising. Fully automated drones will help cut down on the amount of human intervention needed, and additional advancements in the technology will allow for faster compression and transfer of content from the drone to your fingertips, overall saving on time and money.

What advances on drone technology you are excited about?

I am excited to see drones continue to get faster in speed and lower in price, which will only help them become more accessible to consumers. That being said, the most potent tool behind a drone is the operator. As they become more skilled and sophisticated, so will the content that emerges from drone production.

Any advice to those just getting started with their initial drone photography?

Get training and certification where applicable. Find a great mentor to help show you the ropes. Be safe and practice, practice.

My advice would be to start slow and make sure you have some time with the drone before taking on your first professional gig. There can be a learning curve for operating a drone the first time, just how there would be with any other form of technology.

Where do you find your market/customer base in five years? ten years?

Shutterstock’s customers are designers, marketers, filmmakers, advertisers, media organizations, and businesses who are tasked with creating content that will stand out in a world full of distractions. As video continues to become even more and more common in our everyday lives, the content will get more tailored to specific audiences, and the number of videos produced will increase exponentially.

It means we will need to find production hubs for the wide-scale of content required. From a production viewpoint, I believe video will get more post-driven, meaning we may create more via our computers, depending less on needing to shoot. Content is recycled more regularly and reused like an outcome of economic pressure, which means more possibility to monetize footage if you are licensing it.

When you are not working, where will we find you?

Well, right now, you will find me at home practicing social distancing. That being said, I’ve been telling myself I’d finish the novel War and Peace. I’m about one third through it, so at this rate, I’m hoping to be two thirds this time next year.

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