Posts tagged "drone filming"

Two Surfer Babes by KaszPhotoCreative

MINNEAPOLIS — Tens of thousands of drone videos from around the world have been narrowed down to a handful of finalists in the first-ever AirVūz Drone Video Awards.

More than 33,000 videos uploaded to between January 1, 2017 and December 15, 2017 were eligible to be chosen as finalists. The contest was open to anyone in the world who uploaded an originally-shot drone video on

A plaque, cash and prizes will be awarded to winners in 13 categories, which include: People, Cities, Countries, Landscape, Freestyle FPV, Drone Racing, Tiny Whoop, Animals (including pets), Dronies (selfies taken with a drone), Sports, Originality, Reels and Photo.

Five finalists in each category were selected by the staff of AirVūz, based on the quality, originality and creativity of the drone video or photograph. Videos submitted during 2017 will be ineligible to compete in 2018.

Grand Prizes: In addition to 13 category winners, AirVūz will award US$1,000 for the FPV (First-Person-View) Video of the Year and US$1,000 for the Drone Video of the Year. The Drone Photo of the Year will receive US$500.

All AirVūz content creators will have the opportunity to place their votes for the best drone videos in the world between Monday, Jan. 8, 2018 and Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018 (voting closes at 11:59 p.m. EST). Only one entry per registered content creator will be accepted in the voting for the best drone videos in the world.

The winners of each category of the 2017 AirVūz Drone Video Awards will be announced on AirVūz Live on Facebook on Feb. 5 at For more information about the contest, go to or contact Tyler Mason, Director of Public Relations, at

The 2017 Drone Video Awards Official Nominees:


There Is No One Else by WellingtonVisuals

Upstream by Brent De Bleser

Helipad Selfie in Shanghai by ASenseofHuber

Frozen boats at Olkhon Island Lake Baikal Russia Dronie – Drone Selfie by wrenee

Beautiful Sunrise Dronie by YoumiTrip


An Imaginary World by Tobias Hägg

Greenland by sfdrones

To The Mystery by Scientik

Perspective by Jay Worsley

Amazon Rainforest by Cristian Dimitrius


MegaDroneX 2.0 // Cave Race by NurkFPV

Can’t Touch It by NytfuryFPV

Stadium FPV Racing Europe by MetallDanny

Maker Faire, San Mateo. Day 1 by FlyingBearFPV

Drone Racing Underground by JohnnyFPV


Aerial Hiperlapses Colombia by Jeffpilotbmx

Winds From Morocco by bbacalhau

“Awaken” Iceland by mike

This Is Romania by The Brothers M

Split & Zadar | Croatia | 4K Drone Video by hamza_mujtaba


Pilot Madeleine in Hawaii 2017 – Oahu Drone Tour by Ryzone

This is Yunnan by Face du Monde

#ALIVE by Isabellefabre

Philippines | A Place I Call Home by Merr Watson

Byron Bay by Jaxon Roberts


Majestic Beast Nanuk by florian ledoux

Drone Safari – Kruger National Park by BeemFlights

Flying with Flamingos by Alp Karagulle

Wave Sharin’ is Carin’ by Jaimen

Drones & Tigers by dizifilms


Moscow Aerial 5K by

Singapore by Fabio Knoll

The Windy City in 4K – Chicago from a New Perspective by Gianlo

Tokyo From Above by BigHeadGreg

Venice Italy by duminciucbogdan


エアリアルヨガスタジオ y+AERO × TINY WHOOP JAPAN by KatsuFPV

How to make people happy with Drones by SeekND FPV

Tiny Whooping the Fountains of Bellagio by Redline

Inductrix Film Festival Winner (Best Story) “Thanksgiving at Grandma’s” by Nick Lang

Tinywhoop Invades Monster Energy’s #Doonies3 by Yubeta.Blv FPV


NURK’s Flight of the Year // Trains, Bridges, Rapids, Mountains, Sunsets, Gapping, Perching, Powerlooping by nurkfpv

Motocross Stunts / Explosion / Mayhem by Gespar

Huge Abandoned Hotel in Korea by JohnnyFPV

Stone Eagles’ Flight – NYC drone film festival edition by Gab707



UNITED WE RIDE by FourOhFourFilmFactory

Extreme Downhill Freeride Mountain Biking in the High Desert with Da Boys by indo eye

Sports RG Drones in the Brazil by rg drones

Best of windsurfing by RikDingo

Dream… by PilotViking


Beauty and the Beast-Chicago’s Story by Drone Media Chicago

Cardboard Cadet by chrisxgxc

Ludovico Einaudi & Greenpeace “Elegy for the Arctic” by

tahiti an Head Over LANDSCAPE 4K NEW ZEALAND TAHITI by damienlair

“Drift” by Kelly’s Heroes


Drones are Awesome by ThisIsTilt

Brendon Dixon Films 2018 Showreel by Brendon Dixon

Drone Alps Winter 2016/2017 Showreel by dronealps

Summer is Coming – A tribute to travellers by Grim Berge

Demo reel – 2017 by Joe.Images


Two Surfer Babes by KaszPhotoCreative

Floating in the Unknown by zimydakid

Lombard Street in San Francisco by B. Dumas

Plane Cemetery by Deftony83

Lady in Red 2 by Dirka

About AirVūz

Since its launch in 2015, AirVūz has become the world’s leading drone video and photography sharing platform and global community for drone pilots and aerial media enthusiasts. Drone enthusiasts worldwide can upload and share videos and photos in unlimited quantity and at no cost. Site users have free access to an ever-growing library of drone media content including easily browsable categories such as travel, extreme sports, golf courses, drone racing, landmarks and more. AirVūz users also have access to original AirVūz content, including the weekly AirVūz News program, profiles of top content creators, product reviews, and how-to information for drone pilots on how to take and edit high quality drone video.

Unfortunately, producing an aerial film isn’t quite as simple as launching your drone into the air and hitting the record button.

A mixture of planning, skill and hard work is required to create an entertaining and high quality piece of work.

In this article, we’re going to be reviewing the entire process and give you a step-by-step guide on how to create your very first drone film.

Below is a great example of a drone film that won the landscape category at this year’s New York City Drone Film Festival. Hopefully this gives you some inspiration and allows you to see what is possible when filming with drones.

[embedded content]

AUSTRALIA – The Eagle Eye from Wild Pacific Media on Vimeo.

Selecting the correct drone

There’s no doubt that a great drone film starts with selecting the most appropriate drone, but how do you decide which one to buy?

Well, there are several factors that you need to take into consideration. It’s worth noting that the saying ‘you get what you pay for’ couldn’t be more true when purchasing a drone. However, if you shop smart you can still get great value for money.

The three most important aspects to consider are flight time, maximum range and the drones’ camera. Of course, intelligent flight modes and obstacle avoidance sensors are nice to have, but these three aspects are what I believe to be the most critical.

Having a long flight time provides you with plenty of freedom whilst your drone is in the air. You’re able to re-take shots if you’re not completely happy with them, without having to constantly worry about changing batteries. This in itself will reduce the pressure and allow you to be more at ease knowing you have a decent amount of time to get everything shot.

Similarly, your drone’s maximum range will allow you to explore the skies further and potentially scope out new shots that you may not have thought possible when planning.

And finally, the drone’s camera is where the magic really happens. It’s worth mentioning that you can buy drones with or without an attached camera, so it depends on what you would prefer to use. Some prefer to attach their own action camera such as a “Go Pro” to their drone, whilst others prefer having a built-in camera. This is down to personal preference and there is no right or wrong decision in whichever you select.

Personally, I like to use a drone with a 4K camera as it allows you to do some cool effects in post-production like the Vertigo effect, but 1080p can be more than sufficient. However a drone with a 3-axis gimbal is a must, as this will keep your camera level during flight.


Before you begin making your film, you should go through a planning process. Decide a subject for your film – be it a place or an event. If your film is about a place, it’s definitely worth trying to maintain interest by conveying some form of a story.

If you’re struggling to think of a location for your film, this handy tip I discovered by Ty Poland might help you out. You can use Google Map’s satellite mode to find new and exciting locations that you didn’t know about. It’s a really great idea and definitely something worth doing when you’re planning out a film.

If you’re still unsure, I would suggest physically going to some of these newly discovered places and do some location scouting. This should help you come up with some cool shot ideas.

Before you do so, you should probably make sure you have permission to be flying at these locations. Laws will vary from place to place so make sure you do some research beforehand.

It is also a good idea to come up with a shot list. All you have to do is write down a series of shots that you wish to capture; you then methodically work your way through your list whilst you’re shooting. It’s not a great idea to try and think of these whilst you’re concentrating on the actual shooting.

Even if you’re planning on running and gunning your film, having a general idea of what shots you’re going to be recording ahead of time will be a massive help.


When it comes to shooting your film you should carry out a pre-flight check. This will minimise the chances of anything going wrong mid-flight and ensures you’re fully prepared to shoot. You can see an example of a pre-flight checklist here.

If you’re new to piloting a drone, you should start with some basic movements and shots. As you begin to get more comfortable behind the controller, you can move onto more advanced techniques. Below I’ll go over some basic shots and tips for shooting your first drone film.

Example shots & tips

Sometimes when you fly your drone forwards, the propellers can come into shot or if it is a sunny day they can also cause prop shadows to appear. Both of these issues can ruin your shot. Therefore, a great shot to start off with is simply flying your drone backwards!

By flying backwards, you eliminate the chances of this happening and it also gives you the opportunity to do what is called a ‘reveal’. You can have your drone fly backwards over an object, which will slowly come into the shot – I.e. the reveal.

You can take this further by adding in another axis of movement. For example, tilting the camera whilst you’re moving backwards. By implementing two different movements, the shot becomes a lot more cinematic looking and feels like a higher budget piece. Simple!

Another simple shot is the birds’ eye view shot. This is incredibly easy to pull off and delivers a powerful effect. Simply tilt your camera so that it is facing the ground and move your drone slowly in a direction. This shot works great if you’re filming something like a river or perhaps a car driving along the road. You can also slowly adjust the altitude of the drone whilst doing this for added effect.

The over-take shot is another great example of an easy to perform manoeuvre that looks incredibly cinematic. All you have to do is fly your drone either forwards or backwards over the subject to overtake it.

When filming with your drone, you should always remember that slow and smooth controls are incredibly important. If you’re too sharp on the joysticks, the drone will move too fast and the footage will look jumpy. It will take some time to get completely used to your drone’s sensitivity to commands, so just remember to take each control slow and steady.

Post Production

Editing Software

Ok, so now you’ve got some incredible aerial footage, now what? It’s time to put it together using editing software. My favoured editing suite is Adobe Premier Pro, but this really is down to personal preference. Some good editing software’s are:

  • Adobe Premier Pro
  • Final Cut Pro
  • Sony Vegas

Unfortunately these do cost you money but if you want to put together a high quality film, good editing software is a must.

Adobe Premier Pro

Colour Correction & Grading

In order to get your film looking as professional as possible, colour correction is going to be extremely important. This is a step that a lot of people seem to omit, and they’re really missing out on a great tool.

You don’t have to do too much if you don’t want to, but it is usually a good idea to make a few adjustments. Below you can see the difference between a shot before and after colour correction.

Each editing software does their colour correction slightly differently, so it is hard to give specific advice. If you’re new to editing, stick with adjusting the basic controls, such as lights, darks, shadows, highlights, contrast, saturation and vibrancy.

There is also an incredible amount of information available on sites such as YouTube, where you can learn some more advanced techniques on the software of your choice.

If you’re not interested in doing this yourself, you can also buy colour-grading pre-sets online. I personally have never done this as I like to learn how to do it myself, but it does save a lot of time and effort.

Colour Grading Before & After

Sound Effects & Sound Track

Adding sound effects to your film is a very subtle way of bringing everything together and submerging the viewer into your film. These can be ambient sounds, perhaps the sound of birds tweeting or even waves crashing. Although this may seem like a minor thing, it makes a massive difference to the overall feel of the film.

I am going to confess; finding a sound track to accompany your footage can be a pretty tedious process. Luckily, YouTube Audio Library has over 150 royalty free songs that you can download for any creative purposes. You can browse by genre, instrument, mood and a few other variables.

Share & Promote Your Video

What’s the point of going to all that effort making the film if no ones going to see it?

You can post your film on sites such as YouTube and Vimeo. YouTube is for more casual watching, whilst Vimeo is tailored towards the filmmaking industry.


As this article is coming to a close, I think it is a good idea to recap everything I’ve covered:

  • Picking the right drone for the job – pay attention to the drones’ flight time, maximum range and camera capabilities.
  • Planning your film – Finding locations on Google Maps, checking out the locations in person, getting permission to fly and creating a shot list.
  • Shooting your film – Carry out a pre-flight checklist, slow and smooth controls, start off with basic shots until you get the hang of piloting.
  • Editing your film – Using editing software, colour correcting, implementing sound effects and sound track.
  • Sharing your film – Share your film on YouTube & Vimeo.

Thanks for taking the time to read my article on how to make your first drone film. I hope you found it helpful and if you have any questions, please feel free to comment below.

James Davis

Drones are the most interesting contemporary toy, and they’re only gaining in popularity. However, their use goes beyond entertainment – it goes from more efficient product delivery to more quality videos.

So, if you have this toy for yourself and you went past the first rush of excitement, you’re probably thinking about how to make this investment profitable. The great thing about drones is that it isn’t necessary for you to have any kind of experience in order to make great videos. However, the editing part will require a learning curve – but there are ways for you to film great videography and thus cut down the production time.

Slow It Down

First and foremost – slow it down. No matter what kind of drone you have in your home, your videos will get to a whole new level of popularity if you only slow down the speed. By doing this, you will decrease the amount of blurred footage, and it won’t be necessary for you to film additional videos, nor invest much time into editing.

Fly-Through Shots

If you want to provide a cinematic experience to your viewers, this is the move you need to perfect. However, in order to be certain that no damage will be done and that your drone will be safe and sound after these shots, you first need to perfect your navigating skills. I wouldn’t recommend taking your chances on this one.

Go Sideways

If you’re working with landscapes, this is a pretty efficient way to transfer the personal experience to your audience. Going with slow, sideway movements will enable you to film a wide image so that your viewers have enough time to take it all in and admire the view.

Upwards-Backwards Movements

This is probably not news to you – upwards, and backward movements are some of the first things that an owner of a drone masters. However, this kind of footage can be very interesting if you use very basic video editing options, like fast-forward for example.

Make 360-Degree Videos

I’m sure that you have noticed how popular these forms of footage are – 360-degree videos are all over social platforms, and people can’t get enough of them. You can cause a similar effect with your drone – if you make a video while rotating your drone while it’s standing still in the air, you’ll be able to come close to a 360-degree experience.

However, have in mind that the drone technology isn’t there yet – it will be imperative for you to go very slow so that you don’t have to spend days editing your footage. If this is something you would really like to film, you should hire experts in video editing to help you. On the other hand, you can intentionally make this part of the video blurry and use it as a special effect.

Mind the Weather

You need to be very considerate about the weather conditions. A lot of people are sending back their drones for repairs, and the cause of the damage is usually strong winds or trees that popped out from nowhere. Before you take a step outside and get enthusiastic about filming, you should first check the weather and make sure that your drone will survive your expedition.

The main thing about creating high-quality drone videos is having a steady hand. It is imperative for you to master the navigation of your drone before you start experimenting and taking it out in the field. So, try out these moves, don’t be hasty and make sure that your drone is safe.

After drones arrived on the market, videographers quickly adopted them as their favorite tool for making videos. Today, drone video is definitely one of the most popular techniques for filming videos. Drone manufacturers have also recognized this, so they started making highly sophisticated drones for videographers.

One of the main reasons behind the popularity of drone videography is the drones’ unique ability to show the viewers an amazing new perspective on different areas, through the appealing bird’s eye view. But in order to get that “Wow” effect from it, drone video editing has to be part of the post production.

In order to make wonderful drone videos, you should consider these four tips on editing drone videography.

Play with Image Space

Since most of the latest drones used by videographers support video capturing in Ultra HD and 4K, you will be left with a lot of image space to play with. Experts are using this extra image space to create amazing videos through editing with the stutter cut method. By using stutter cut, you will mimic a cut, and it will look as if you have shot a video by using more than just one camera.

Stutter cut is especially suitable for videos related to sports, fitness, and recreational activities because it creates fast-paced edits and adds a dynamic effect to the entire video. Stutter cut is also suitable for matching the specific background music intervals with a video background or specific action.

Use the Speed and Ramp Effect

After you are done recording with a drone, you will be left with this long video that may easily bore the viewer. Instead of cutting it and making it shorter, you should consider using speed and ramp effects. This way you won’t have to decide what to cut and what parts to leave in the video.

Ramp and speed effects add another dynamic element to your videos. This element is very important, as it will keep the audience engaged. Speeding up through dull parts of the video, while slowing down at points of interest has an amazing effect on the audience, one that you can’t achieve otherwise when it comes to aerial videography.

Use Titles and Textual Graphics

You can easily insert graphic elements like logos and textual graphics in videos shot by drone, and they can really complement the background of the video. This is why drone video editing services are usually outsourced by businesses and individuals who want to insert professional looking graphics and get their videos edited by experts.  

It is important to know how to use the proper color palette to make certain areas in the video pop. To do this right, you also have to identify the flyover section of your video and to use overlays to insert textual graphics into them. In order to add dimension to your video, experts advise to try and darken the image or use colors that contrast with the background of the video.

Know the Terminology and Play with different Elements

Every drone video should contain these types of sequences: reveals, 360 shots, takeoffs, pans, drops, flyovers and tilts. You should get familiar with each one of these and learn how to film it with your drone. When you have all of these sequences in your raw video material, the variety of post-editing opportunities is significantly increased.

The most important thing to learn is how to make smooth transitions between these sequences. This will add fluidity to your videos and make them more appealing to the eye. The technique commonly used by drone video editors for this purpose is a simple cross-dissolve. This technique will help you make a natural looking transition between sequences that don’t complement one another. For instance, flyover and landing.

By adding this elegant touch with transitions, you will make the motion between different sequences interesting for the viewers. Before you start adding transition effects to your drone video, make sure to sit down and watch its full duration, while taking notes on time intervals when these jarring transitions occur.

By applying these four tips to your drone video post-production, you will be able to create breathtaking drone videos and to establish yourself as a drone videographer.

Drones can offer a unique perspective of the Aug. 21 eclipse.

1979 was the last time a total solar eclipse graced the shores of the contiguous United States. It was 38 years ago when the first Sony Walkman came out, when 63 Americans were taken hostage at the American Embassy in Tehran, and when the first Aliens movie hit cinemas. It was a long time ago, a time before drones.

Luckily this time drones will be there to help the whole nation get a unique perspective of a total solar eclipse. This Monday, August 21st, 2017 will be another first for drones and another reminder of how drones can be used for good. Forget eclipse glasses and holes punched in cardboard, drones are the latest and coolest way to view a solar eclipse.

If you have a drone, make sure you carve out some time this Monday morning or afternoon (depending on where you live) to take to the skies and capture this rare event. Our friends over at Drone360 have compiled a great list of the best places to fly to capture the total eclipse and a reminder to make safety your priority by following all FAA and local regulations.

If you don’t live near the path of totality, can’t make the trip, don’t have your own drone, or are looking for a professional drone pilot to help you capture the historic eclipse, head on over to Up Sonder. We have FAA certified drone pilots throughout the path the moon’s shadow will carve across the good old U.S. of A. Just to make it super easy for you, below is a list of Up Sonder drone pilots along the path of the eclipse.

Up Sonder has numerous drone pilots in the path of the solar eclipse.

Share on Facebook

Tweet on Twitter

The NEW YORK CITY DRONE FILM FESTIVAL is the world’s premiere drone film festival, and now they’re teaming up with VICE to bring you the first annual LOS ANGELES DRONE FILM FESTIVAL on Oct 6th – 8th 2017.

Submissions are open now until August 27th 2017.





Previous articleMicaSense Atlas, powered by Pix4D


The festival jury will select drone films in the following categories:

NYS DRONES(5 min maximum) – Films in this category are those made only in NYS. Filmmakers are required to identify the NYS location. The use of recognized NYS landmarks is a plus.

NARRATIVE(5 min maximum) – A great film always centers on great story telling. Please tell us your amazing story with the use of your drone. This category is open to real stories as well as fiction/fantasy.

LANDSCAPE/ARCHITECTURE(5 min maximum) – What amazing shots of landscapes and architecture can you capture?

SHOWREEL(5 min maximum) – Drone cinematographers often capture a lot of footage. This category is for those who wish to show off the wide variety of your work. Give us your amazing shots.

SPORTS(5 min maximum) – Sports scenes and extreme sports footage are what we are looking for. Whether it is snowboarding down a mountain or capturing the local soccer match this is the category for you.

DRONES AND HEALTHCARE(10 min maximum) Drones are increasingly being used in the healthcare arena. Films in this category need to showcase these stories. Use of drone footage is not necessary(partial drone footage is desirable). Your film must be centered around drones.

STUDENT(5 min maximum) – Students (21 and younger) are encouraged to submit their work. This category is open ONLY to students. Students can also submit in any of the other categories. If submitting to other categories student films will be judged as would any other submission.

CORPORATE/INDUSTRIAL/BUSINESS(10 min maximum) – This category is for films that feature drones. These are stories about drones, the work being done or starring people who are involved with drones. Films submitted to this category should not exceed 10 minutes in length and don’t have to be shot using drones although including partial drone footage is desirable.

Submissions will be accepted via FilmFreeway through July 31, 2017. Selections will be announced on August 16, 2017.

Click here to learn more about Rules and Regulations and FAQs.

Share on Facebook

Tweet on Twitter

During the recordings of the most downloaded series of the Games of Thrones, the NEO drone has been used in Iceland provided by the Dutch company Acecore Technologies. The recordings took place last winter at different locations in Iceland. According to owner and pilot Jorrit Linders the weather conditions were very extreme. It was for the first time that the Games of Thrones used drones instead of traditional helicopters in Iceland Temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius and very strong winds made the recordings very challenging.

Jorrit Linders (founder Acecore and pilot) with Kit Harington (John Snow) and cameraman.

The quality requirements of HBO are high, mainly because almost all data must be able to be post-edited with all kinds of visual effects. The production team was very pleased because the drone team was always ready to be deployed by the director. This is unlike expensive helicopters where flights should always be pre-planned. Drones can also fly closer to the object for the so-called close range aerial shots. The Dutch company specializes in developing drones systems with heavy lift capacities and flying in heavy weather conditions. The new season 7 began on HBO on Sunday 16th of July.




Previous articleDrone Buyers Guide – Infographic
Photo credit: DroneBase/Getty Images.

New York, Wednesday June 14, 2017 – Getty Images, a global leader in visual communication, has today announced an exclusive world-wide content distribution deal with leading global drone pilot platform, DroneBase.  The agreement brings the high quality 4K video produced by DroneBase’s world-wide network of pilots to Getty Images’ over one million customers.

Beginning with over 200 creative video assets, the partnership will expand to include 360 stills and video, VR content and will later evolve into commercial assignments, bringing the very best in aerial photography and videography to a global audience.

The collection contains a wide range of clips featuring localized landscapes, architectural surveys and aerial views in the highest quality 4K video offered, and is available to license for commercial use.

Drone content has emerged as one of the fastest growing methods of content capture in recent years, using photography and videography to deliver an immersive birds-eye-view that captures views of the world often unreachable by humans.

“It’s estimated that the drone industry will be a $100 billion business by 2020, and it’s only going to continue to grow from here,” said Peter Orlowsky, Vice President of Business Development at Getty Images.

“With the booming popularity of drones and consistent growth in this new technology, Getty Images is thrilled to work with DroneBase to not only bring their cutting-edge content to our broad customer base, but to also work together to foster and support the burgeoning pilot community.”

“As a world leader in visual communications, Getty Images has always had a pulse on the next evolution in photography and videography, and understand how drone content can elevate visual storytelling into an immersive experience,” said Dan Burton, Founder and CEO of DroneBase.

“We’re excited to bring our network’s expertise and premium video to Getty Images’ unrivaled library of creative content. We have integrated directly into Getty Images so pilots’ content will appear with one-click after flying from the DroneBase Pilot App and website.”

See DroneBase’s full 4k video collection on here.

Selfie DroneSelfie drones give your narcissism wings, but luckily they can do more.

At CES 2017 you couldn’t get away from selfie drones. Everywhere you looked there was your very own aerial camera that quite literally brought narcissism to new heights.

It’s hardly been six months, but this space is moving so fast there has already been some shake-ups. One of the most anticipated selfie drones has crashed (Lily drone) and just two weeks ago DJI, the biggest player in the world of drones, plopped down its considerable presence on the overcrowded couch of selfie drones. And let’s not forget that it was the selfie drone that finally got the attention of the world’s largest consumer electronics brand—now you can buy one in any Apple store.

What is it about the selfie drone anyway? Are they the latest tech fad that will reel in money for a year or two and then fade away? Maybe, but I think there’s a lot more to selfie drones than dollar signs and social media buzz.

Selfie drones are important because they serve as the new testing ground for technologies that are vital to the future of drones like miniaturization, autonomous flight, machine learning (gesture commands), and interfacing with the life of an average person (social media). A selfie drone is the fastest way to get new drone technology into the hands of average people and see the interaction of this technology with normal life.

Who Said Smaller Isn’t Better

As with any technology, miniaturization is important. Over time you can do more with the same amount of space. Drones are no different. The new DJI Spark weighs 70% less and is only 1/3 of the size of the Phantom 2 drone I keep on my shelf for posterity’s sake. Even with these reductions, the Spark manages to offer a 12 megapixel camera, advanced GPS/GLONASS satellite positioning, a 3D sensing system, and computer vision—none of which the Phantom 2 has.

The DJI Spark has a lot of technology crammed into its small frame. (Source : DJI)

Zerotech’s Dobby is even lighter and, in fact, small enough to fit into the breast pocket of a button-up shirt. While its specs are not as impressive as the Spark’s, the story of its “insides” is really a story about how miniaturization is key to unlocking the true potential of drones.

To make the Dobby, Zerotech partnered with Qualcomm. The key to miniaturizing the drone was making an integrated chip that could fit into a mini motherboard and be able to handle CPU, imaging, communications, GPS, artificial intelligence, and remote control functions. Zerotech had not worked with integrated chips before so there were some issues getting their drone tech to operate correctly. It took months of engineers banging around problems, but eventually the Dobby came into being.

Dobby is arguably not the best drone on the market, but both Zerotech and Qualcomm view it as a transitional product on the path to the drones of tomorrow. They have proven they can integrate and reduce size which will make drones a powerful computing platform for the sky. In five years, drones the size of the Dobby and Spark will be more powerful than larger drones today. Sensors will be smaller, processors will be smaller, power sources will be smaller—all because of selfie drones.

Autonomy at the Touch of a Button

Selfie drones didn’t create the idea of autonomous drone flight and they are not the main factor pushing this technology forward. But they are playing their part and are the way most people will become familiar with the reality of autonomous drone flight.

Their contribution can be traced back to 3DR’s Iris+ drone which, when launched in 2014, was the first widely available commercial drone with a “follow me” function. Every selfie drone today can do this in addition to course lock, go to a point of interest, active tracking, as well as preset movements for shots. With the push of a button selfie drones can become autonomous by using a combination of computer vision and software.

This technology is not unique to selfie drones, but just think how many millions of people around the world are going to be introduced to autonomous drone flight just because they want the ultimate selfie.

Signing with Robots

Another selling feature of most selfie drones is the ability to be controlled by gestures. With a wave of your hand you can command a drone to do everything from fly away from you to take a picture. Like with autonomous flight features, the ability to command with gestures is pretty limited and sometimes buggy, but that’s not why I am mentioning it.

[embedded content]

The fact that drone manufacturers were able to cram machine learning and intelligence features into something so small is impressive. But more than anything else, it’s a way to introduce consumers to the concept of using gestures to command drones. Researchers around the world are working on drones that can autonomously interact with people via facial and hand gestures. The end goal is for these drones to be used as a kind of personal assistant at retail locations, on tours, and even in the workplace. Selfie drones are the first large scale testing ground for using machine learning and gestures. The lessons being learned will be vital for further drone development.

Let’s Take a Dronie

Regardless of what the future holds, selfie drones are making their mark today because they are easy to integrate with the great passion of our time, social media. The marketing of every selfie drone shows happy people documenting moments for their friends with the help of a wonderful new tool. If you want more confirmation of the social power of drones just remember that in late May Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, bought Los Angeles-based drone maker Ctrl Me.

For better or worse selfie drones are here to stay. Just don’t forget that these drones have a lot more going for them than narcissism. They are a stepping stone to the drones of the future.

Joe Christian is Director of Content for Up Sonder, a network of drone pilots for hire and the first on-demand drone rental platform powered by UberRUSH and Postmates. Up Sonder gives business and the public access to the drone industry while providing a way for drone pilots and owners to earn extra money.