Tech Innovation

2016 Best of Drone Cinema

Ken Kaplan Executive Editor, iQ by Intel
Flying Robot International Film Festival

The second annual Flying Robot International Film Festival shows how rapidly advancing drone technologies are helping filmmakers expand their craft.

In a year when drones helped people set world records, redefine industrial manufacturing and spread social good, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) continued to help filmmakers evolve the art of visual storytelling.

Some of the best aerial cinema of 2016 competed in the second Flying Robot International Film Festival (FRiFF) on November 17, 2016 at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco.

Flying Robot International Film Festival

“Zip lining in Rwanda is one of the best uses of drones I can think of,” said FRiFF founder Eddie Codel, referring to “Drones For Good” category winning film by Jimmy Collins of the UK.

Codel, a San Francisco-based live video producer, aerial filmmaker, self-proclaimed drone nerd and contributor to iQ, assembled a group of technology innovators to judge 180 film submissions, representing 40 countries.

Intel’s 100 drones light show video was nominated in the “Promotions” category, but was beat out by Digitized 2016 – Opening Titles, created by Athanasia Lykoudi and Nestoras Kechagias of Greece.

Overall “Best in Show” went to Moon Line by Frédéric Rousseau of France. It also got top honors in the “WTF LOL” category.

“Audience Choice” — picked via votes on Twitter — and “Epic Landscape” awards went to Drone Poem: Always Take The Window Seat by Alexander Hotz of the U.S.

“The number of votes was so overwhelming that we had to tally and announce the votes after the ceremony,” said Codel.

Last year’s festival brought to the screen Art of Shades – All the Way, a surreal French short film of love, death and dance told from a soaring bird’s-eye perspective. Looking back, Codel can see significant progress in drone filmmaking.

“There was absolutely a higher level in quality in films this year,” said Codel. “With more drones in the hands of new and experienced filmmakers, we’re seeing the natural result of that expansion.”

He pointed to recent technical innovations in drones that are helping filmmakers.

“Most modern drones have a ‘smart assist’ mode, where the drone can smoothly conduct an orbit or tracking maneuver in a semi-automated way,” he said. “This helps capture smoother shots than can generally be achieved manually from the hands of the drone pilot. Also, object detection and avoidance helps drone filmmakers get tighter shots than they might otherwise be able to get.”

movie theater crowd

Two days after FRiFF, Codel gathered expert and novice drone filmmakers, drone startup companies, hobbyists and fans to exchange tips and creative ideas at the Flying Robot Aerial Imagery Day.

Other winning films from FRiFF 2016 include:

The Drone by Jordan Rubin  from the U.S. won for “Cinematic Narrative.”

The “Student Film” category winner was This is Chapman by Kevin Wolf of the U.S.

Steele Davis of the U.S. – featured in iQ articles How to be a Pro Drone Racer and Exploring Drone Technology with Rotor Riot  – won for The First Racing Drone In Chernobyl in the “FPV/Aerial Sports” category.

Robot Quadrotors Perform James Bond Theme by Kurtis Sensenig won in the “I Made That!” category.

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