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Drones Are Filming Seriously Jaw-Dropping Virtual Reality Video for Brands

Patrón goes inside the agave field

Patron's virtual reality shows how tequila is made.

Ever since Twitter used drones to create buzzy six-second videos at Cannes last year, the remote-controlled devices have ditched their reputation as weird flying gizmos the military uses in favor of one as a new marketing platform. And brands are finding new ways to incorporate the videos into virtual-reality campaigns.

Today, Patrón and agency Firstborn are launching the "Art of Patrón Virtual Reality Experience," giving viewers an inside look at how tequila is made at its Hacienda Patrón distillery in Jalisco, Mexico. The brand joins a growing list of alcohol marketers using virtual reality with a new twist—the use of drones to film projects.

After viewers put on an Oculus headset, they see the world from the perspective of a bee, Patrón's icon. They then get a virtual tour of the Hacienda's agave fields, distillery and bottling room, and get to see all the steps that go into making a bottle of tequila.

According to Lee Applbaum, Patrón's global CMO, the idea behind the campaign came from the fact that the distillery is located in a remote part of Mexico. The virtual reality is meant to replicate, as closely as possible, the on-site experience.

Using custom-built drones equipped with seven GoPro cameras, a team of FAA-certified pilots from Aerial Mob maneuvered the machines to capture complicated shots at the Hacienda like a 30-foot drop or a close-up of the agave plants. They also collected the sounds of workers in the field to make the virtual experience more realistic. The live-action shots were then overlaid with computer-generated images.

In one scene, the bee flies through a keyhole into a room where employees are chopping up agave plants. Another shows the bee hovering over a field of flowers and cacti.

"It's very ironic that we're using cutting-edge technology to tell this story of a very traditional, time-honored and ancient process," Applbaum said. "All of this audio and video from the drone gives you this sensation that you are this bee flying through places that ordinarily you simply could not do."

The project took five months to complete and will be used at retailers and Patrón events and seminars. "While we want it to be immersive, engaging and entertaining, we also had to ensure that it was equally informative and very real," Applbaum said.

Drone Reality
Earlier this week, GoPro acquired software company Kolor, which some belief may be the first step in building its own headset. If the camera's previous marketing is any indication, a GoPro-backed virtual-reality headset would likely sell itself.

Meanwhile, British Columbia's tourism department used drones and helicopters late last year to make sweeping three-minute videos of the province's mountains and landmarks.

Cirque du Soleil choreographed drones for a fun video that looked like dancing lampshades. And even movie directors are finding new ways to get the perfect shot.

"When you're shooting a 360-degree environment you have to consider your entire surroundings," said Firstborn's associate creative director Cameron Templeton. "Shooting via drone is starting to emerge as a filmmaking technique, but it's very new territory for VR."

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