Aerial drone video roundup: Amazing remote-controlled airborne footage of Los Angeles, San Francisco and more


posted Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 2:02 PM EDT


It seems like the last year or so has seen an explosion of incredible photos and video captured by aerial drones. The convergence of affordable remote-control drones, cheap, light and high-quality video recorders, and excellent stabilization means it doesn't take much to be able to send a hexacopter skywards to capture incredible footage. These videos demonstrate some of the best we've seen of late, and they're all incredible.

Let's start with shots of California's two most iconic cities: Los Angeles and San Francisco. This video of L.A. was shot using a "DJI Phantom w/the Zenmuse H3-2D Gimbal" and a GoPro Black. The video manages to cover a myriad of views all over the city (including what looks to be an absolutely insane rooftop party).


This footage of San Francisco was shot with a very similar rig, a "GoPro Hero3 on a DJI Phantom with an Arris CM2000 brushless motor gimbal," giving a bird's eye view of the Mission district. Focused on Dolores Park, the drone quickly climbs high enough to give a view of almost the entire city laid out before it.


Videographers are also pushing hard to demonstrate their drone skills to commercial clients. July's video of the Grand Palais in Paris was an excellent example of that, and so too is this footage from Helicam Services Oy. Based in Finland and Estonia, they've done one better than most by using a RED camera to capture 5k footage and stabilizing it using a custom rig. This demo reel was captured using Tokina 11-16 f/2.8, Zeiss 21mm f/2.8, and Canon 24-105mm L lenses, and really shows off what a professional level rig is capable of doing for commercial purposes.


Finally, here's a video of something that's not so important due to the camera itself, but rather what it's recording. In July, Elon Musk linked to this video of a hexacopter recording the take off and landing of his company's experimental SpaceX Grasshopper spacecraft. It recorded the vessel climbing more than 1,000 feet in the air, and then lowering itself perfectly into place. This footage would have been far more difficult to obtain without a drone, as it probably wouldn't have been wise to fly a helicopter near an experminetal launch.


It's clear that drones are opening vastly interesting and new world of photography. For less than $1,000, you can get a camera airborne and start filming amazing stuff. It's a fairly low barrier of entry, and it has lead to an explosion of wonderful videos.

P.S. If you have an aerial photography drone, don't forget you even have your own social network to share the footage on!