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China Drone Footage on the Cheap

January 14, 2016

With its stunning landscapes, natural wonders and sprawling cities, the whole world is really starting to look at China for the first time. And what better way to view this beautiful and varied nation than the birds eye view of stunning drone footage. However, finding or producing China drone videos can be a challenge, especially on the cheap. As China video production insiders, we have compiled useful tips and creation resources to aid you in your search for the perfect shot. 



As you are probably already aware, YouTube has a search filter for videos uploaded under the Creative Commons license which allows for downloading of free videos. This allows the site to be used like a giant free stock footage website, providing you credit the video maker and don’t use your finished video to make a profit. If you intend to monetize your video production at any point, be sure to contact the video maker via their ‘About’ page and arrange a materials release. 

If you need a simple a fast solution for downloading videos from YouTube try Video DownloadHelper. It is the second most popular Firefox addon with over 200 million downloads to date and about 5 million daily users. 


Download License Free Drone Footage


Some of the best China aerial footage on YouTube is from Patrice Gaucher who sells videos via his website Aerial Entertainment Studios. A decent number of sharp China aerial videos are on offer, best found by browsing by country. Though, you can expect to pay around USD$250, with a couple of shorter free videos including a clip from Gaucher’s “Stunning China” highlights World Heritage Sites of Guilin in Yangshuo.





Chinese drone footage of the epic 50 lane traffic jam distibuted by video news marketplace Newsflare was a big money-spinner in 2015. “Chinese videos are some of the most popular videos on Newsflare with all our clients, drone footage of China expressway gridlocks being one of the biggest hits last year,” says Tom Levin, Archive & Sales Manager at Newsflare. 



Though mainly focusing on newsworthy UGC content such as accidents, weather and quirky videos, Newsflare also carries some picturesque drone footage of China and is known in the industry for their professionalism in clearing rights for user generated content. Prices start at $200 and rise according to usage exclusivity and so on. Lower rates can be negotiated for repeat business.

For low cost aerial footage of China, you could do a lot worse than Pond 5, a China stock footage marketplace that boasts thousands of China aerial footage clips starting from as low as $50. Tags are inputted by users so it’s worth searching thoroughly to find what you want.



China’s YouTube clone Youku, boasts a large number of specialist China drone video producers whose content can be browsed in English (or at close approximation of ) via Google Translate. Contacting video makers through Youku requires registration on the website via mobile phone, but it is standard practice for professionals to list a QQ instant messenger contact number too. So if you need it, QQ messenger has an English language version and even comes with an automatic translation function.

Producers are advised to proceed with caution in the China market, however, and assume that quality Chinese videos found online will have a copyright owned by someone. Make use of a materials release form, as you would in any other country, preferably including a Chinese language version.


Please feel free to download this Chinese/English Material Release Form we use here at BON Cloud - 

Download Bi-lingual Materials Release Form


Many video production companies advertise their services on websites such as Zhu Bajie - their site offers an English version - the market leader in creative service crowdsourcing. And professional classified site Gan Ji - all in Chinese, so you’ll need Google translate or a Chinese speaking friend to help you. Freelance camera operators can also be found on these sites who will work in their spare time for lower prices but as BON Cloud producer Cui Liu warns “Skill levels vary and they will always put their employer’s projects as their top priority” - so just be careful. 

It’s not difficult to find professional video production companies such as iFLY who are experienced to dealing with international projects. Director Li Hongzhen speaks fluent English and quotes a price of 12,000 RMB - about USD$2,000 - for a big project such as their promotional film for Jeep or you can consider less costly projects like this Ding Du Ge aerial footage. 

The following stunning viral video of government buildings in Beijing was shot by drone pilot and cinematographer Trey Ratcliff on an imprudent drone video shoot in China’s capital that saw him detained by Chinese police before racking up more than a million views on YouTube.



Fortunately for those who don’t want to risk landing in jail themselves, there are many options for obtaining stunning drone footage of China - from video production services, Chinese video platforms and free videos on stock video sites. Happy Searching! 


David Drakeford

Written by David Drakeford

News Editor and Social Media Writer at Blue Ocean Network