How Drone Videos Help Tell Stories

By HUANG Wan & JI Xinyue

NAME: Living in China’s Expanding Deserts




DATE: 2016/10/24


  • Videos: 5 drone videos

Processed with MOLDIV

  • Photos: 8 photos

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  • Texts: About 1600 words in total, with those introducing the videos and photos are above the image included.
  • Data Visualization: This piece uses three maps of China respectively for its deserts’ expanding, citizens relocating and storms of wind-driven sand.

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  • Satellite Imagery: The video editor combines the satellite imagery with the second drone video, making a visual impact with the focus expanding from a little house to boundless desert around it, then to the whole country, where the desert of huge proportions can be seen apparently.

Processed with MOLDIV


The desert of China which lies on the southern edge of Gobi Desert called Tengger is growing.

China’s deserts are expanding and have taken over many villages. China’s government has made efforts to relocate residents, plant trees and limit herding to delay desertification. Use the map to point out where is Tengger Desert.

Tell the story of Jiali who has been relocated to depict the life changes of the “ecological migrants” with pictures and a video.

Use the satellite maps of China to display the desert expansion and the sandstorm brought by the deserts. Show the relationship between the desertification and the sandstorm appeared in populated places. The maps displayed as a background for the signs are exactly the same, and the transition of these pictures makes it look like the signs gradually appear on the map.

Tell the story with pictures that the residents who live on the edge of the deserts try to limit the steady march of the sand. Tell the story of Guo Kaiming and that of Huang Chunmei to show how they plant trees and make money from planting. The video of the messed sand sculptures displays that the strong wind in this area has messed up everything. The subtitles on the changes slowly to leave enough time for the readers to understand and contemplate.


The pictures of Ms. Huang are taken from a close shot, a wide shot and an extremely wide shot. These pictures which show how the farmers make life on the soil which is not soft and good as before giving the reader a strong visual impact.

Tell the story of Mengkebuyin to show that the government is trying to halt herding on the edge of the desert. Use the video of running sheep to make a visual contrast between what the deserts used to be and what the deserts will be.



Drone videos have a natural advantage in making visual impacts.  The use of it presents a big picture of boundless deserts and people’s life there; its combination with satellite imagery stresses the high proportion that deserts occupy the territory of China.

Drone video is such great asset for multimedia journalism that we should utilize it to sketch spectacles. Although its presentation on mobile phones is not as good as that on computers due to the smaller screens, its videos play automatically and the story is told in the same way.