Drones

Watch the 6 Most Innovative Drone Videos of 2016

An Inspire drone films a car during the Dakar Rally in Buenos Aires on Jan 2, 2016.
Franck Fife—AFP/Getty Images An Inspire drone films a car during the Dakar Rally in Buenos Aires on Jan 2, 2016.

It was an amazing year for drone videography

It’s been a big year for drones.

In 2016, there were technological breakthroughs from improved object avoidance to a drone that can carry people. Drones also become more accessible with DJI’s foldable Mavic Pro and almost Go Pro’s Karma, but the latter was recalled after battery issues caused some of them to fall from the sky. Then in August, the FAA unveiled a certification process for drone pilots to fly legally. As the number of drone pilots multiplied, drone videos showed us parts of the world not previously viewable in ways that would have required big budgets and production crews.

Here are a few of the most impressive videos that challenged our perspectives.

The Nature Video Perfected

The bulk of drone footage attempts to capture stunning shots of nature from above. Most of them feel boring after a few seconds, but Nordland cracked the code. It embraces the slow speed of the drone to better showcase the elegance and intention of its shot; it’s cinematic beauty. The meditative feel of the video matches the experience of flying above the Norwegian mountains. We hope nature drone pilots will take note of this approach.

The Destruction of Aleppo

The destruction in Aleppo caused by the Syrian conflict is so extensive it can be difficult to accurately depict. Drone footage proved to be a successful method, showing block after block reduced to rubble. The post-apocalyptic looking scenes provide a sense of the scale to the damage. Street level shots show the tens of thousands of people still living in these areas.

The Construction of Apple Campus 2

Beginning in June 2015, Duncan Sinfield has flown over the construction site of Apple’s new headquarters. Each month he releases a video on YouTube, pointing out the developments since the previous month. His first video of the site received less than 700 views. He now can get over a half million as the 13,000 employee building nears completion. Recently, Duncan has begun driving out to Nevada to shoot monthly updates of the construction of Tesla’s Gigafactory.

The Tight Squeeze Approach

As custom-built drones allow for higher resolution and increased control, advertisers are turning to drones to film previously impossible shots. For this Ford Ad, professional drone operators flew a drone through an impossibly tight space, while a camera operator and focus puller kept the car in the frame to create a single mesmerizing shot.

The Single Shot Approach

Aerial Cinematography company, Aerobo teamed up with director Paul Trillo to raise the bar for drone cinematography with an 10-minute long scene that was shot entirely in one shot. The DJI Inspire 1 drone, complete with an X5 Camera, circles the actors and seamlessly moves between ground level to aerial views. The drone replaces what would have been a number of (expensive) dollys, steadicams and cherrypickers that would have been difficult to coordinate.

The Top Down Approach

This year has seen an influx of interest in drones from seasoned still photographers. Photographers like Paul Octavious (who shoots video as well) are embracing the new perspective by positioning the drone in a set position and allowing the action to unfold within the frame. Octavious is not alone, photographers like Adam Senatori are employing similar approaches.

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