DroneFest 2016

International Drone Film Festival Lands in the UK

Drone 1_300With their popularity growing massively in recent years drones have opened up a whole new world of photography & filming, for professional cinematographers and consumers alike, and now the UK has its very own drone film festival.

DRONEFEST is an international film and photography competition culminating in a one-night festival dedicated to everything drones. The first of its kind in the UK, DRONEFEST is bringing together the greatest minds in the drone industry to showcase the best that aerial cinematography has to offer.

The DRONEFEST competition will run from September to December 2015, with submissions accepted until 13th December. DRONEFEST is searching for the most innovative, creative and extraordinary aerial films and photographs captured using drones. With entry categories including everything from FPV racing & dronies to landscapes & architecture the competition has something for everyone and is open to anyone involved in the global drone industry. With entries already flying in from both amateurs and professional cinematographers, and some amazing prizes up for grabs, a panel of industry judges will be on hand to determine the stand-out entries from this year’s competition.

Drone 4_400DRONEFEST is bringing the best in aerial cinematography to London for one night only, taking over the SkyTech 2016 Drone Expo on the 27th January 2016. The festival will see over 500 drone enthusiasts and cinematographers come together for a jam-packed evening showcasing the art of drone cinema. Screenings of shortlisted films, photography showcases, award presentations and interviews will take centre stage throughout the festival.

Want to be a part of the first drone film & photography festival in the UK? Get your tickets now before it’s too late. Find out more at www.dronefestival.co.uk.


Film Categories

Are you pushing at the boundaries of aerial filming? Our film categories are all about celebrating the amazing potential of drone cinematography.

Showreel – Want to showcase a range of your cinematography work? Show off your technical skills in our showreel category.

Lifestyle – This one is for the adventurous. Have you captured that unforgettable moment with your drone? Maybe its extreme sports, amazing people & places, FPV racing footage? Show us your awe-inspiring moments.

Wonders of the Natural World – This category is all about capturing the great outdoors. Whether its amazing open spaces, extraordinary coastal scenes or breathtaking panoramic views, showcase our changing environment through our wonders of the natural world category.

Short Feature Film – Tell us a story in 10 minutes or less.

Amateur – Are you new to drones but still have some amazing aerial footage? Enter our amateur category to make your mark on the drone industry.

Photography Categories

Have you mastered the art of drone photography? Can you tell a story through a single image? Showcase your best aerial stills through one of our photography categories.

Landscapes & Nature – Drones are perfect for capturing our relationship with nature. Whether in sunshine or cloud, at home or abroad, a familiar landscape or something we’ve never seen before, show us your best stills of the natural landscape.

People & Places – This category is dedicated to our interaction with the world around us. Whether of individuals or groups, amazing places or both, capture the perfect moment with your drone.

Architecture – Encapsulate the beauty of design and engineering in our architecture category. Whether an individual building or a broad cityscape showcase your best photographs of the built environment.

You & Your Drone – This category is all about you and your drone: Show us your “go to drone”, perhaps the perfect dronie. Maybe your photograph doesn’t fit into one of our other categories – this is where you can showcase the wild and wonderful of drone photography.

Best in Festival

Our Best in Festival Award is for the stand-out entry from this year’s competition. You can’t enter specifically for this category but everyone who enters the festival will be considered!



Twitter: @DRONEFEST2016 #DRONEFEST2016

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Drones Bonding with Cinema

Media_300Perhaps the most exciting branch of commercial UAV technology is its ability to water our creative soil. Cinematography and professional video services are, quite frankly, the sexiest of the UAV industry line-up, and using drones for these purposes has levelled the playing field for directors seeking that perfect panorama without spending thousands on a single helicopter shot. As digital cameras have fallen in price, making amateur film-making more affordable, drones are streamlining the production of countless movies, TV shows, and corporate and tourist video shoots, all while doing it under the radar of the average cinephile.

After Roger Deakins flirted with drone filming in Skyfall (that astonishing opening, if you remember it, was kinetic for a good reason), Bond is back with his off-screen gadget for this year’s Spectre, a visual and visceral treat that offers gorgeous frames of Austrian, Italian and African landscapes between bursts of typically suave gunplay. Pleasingly, since the film lambasts the topic of drone surveillance for government spying programmes, Spectre epitomises the technology’s shift from military to popular custom, the very nature of its story complimented by using UAVs creatively to tell that story in the first place. Not for a moment am I suggesting Sam Mendes was at all bothered about the juxtaposition, but for drone geeks like us, it’s a nice sign of the changing climate around what drones can offer for society, and how commercial drones are distinguished from their counterpart.

Similarly, Game of Thrones used drones for its latest season, most notably in scenes approached with bated breath by fans of the 5th book. For any of you that tuned into Danearys Targeryn’s dragon ride from the fighting pits, you’ll recall the sense of awe you felt watching masked terrorists duelling with a colossal number of extras in Mereen (or Spain, if you’re a pedant). Spotting Peter Dinklage’s magnificent, craggy head in a sea of flailing bodies was a reminder of the show’s sense of spectacle and, for pure ambition, went down as a classic sequence in GoT fandom. How great, then, to learn drones were a big part of stitching those shots into a coherent and malleable array of violence and wonder. It’s hard to guess how many production companies now use drones regularly for filming, but Hollywood, as it does these days, is taking its cues from TV; we can expect a wide proliferation of UAV shots in the coming years, mainly for thrillers, where the machines can move easily with the action.

The cinematic courtship of drones is also being literalised in a film about a boy and his best friend. Chad Kapper, a hobbyist and movie-maker, released Rotor DR1 in October, a meet-cute tale of a 16-year old drifter (played by his son) in an apocalyptic future where drones are scavenged for their valuable components. The hero is surprised by the arrival of a quadcopter that seems to be drawn to him, which the trailer promises will mean gentle, sun-flared portraits of man and drone, at the end of the world, living out the fantasy of a million operators. What’s remarkable is that the first film about drones was born out of a Youtube channel, and a crowd-funding campaign that followed shortly afterwards. Kapper simply asked a forum, “What do you want to see in a film about our hobby?” The response was electric: drone enthusiasts were able to consult him on almost everything, from costume and dialogue changes to why, exactly, the boy has to have superpowers.

So UAVs are now the stars in front of, and the strings behind, the screen. How mind-boggling that such developments have arisen so quickly, with common sense, and respect for the sacred ground of the moving image. Now it’s time for cinematic auteurs to show what they can do with a buzzing sidekick and an ounce of passion. I strongly urge anyone with an interest in drone filming to submit for Dronefest 2016, the UK’s ground-breaking drone film festival. There’ll be a ton of categories to sink your proverbial teeth into. Go on, show us what you’re made of; your inner Scorsese, Kubrick or Fellini may be hungering for new heights.

Dronefest will take place on the 27th January at London’s Business Design Centre

You can register for attendance through https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/dronefest-tickets-18608429313

Or, submit your drone-related short film or photo selection through https://filmfreeway.com/festival/DRONEFEST.

Movin’ on Up

Drone 5_300When our Palaeolithic ancestors fashioned the first wheel, it must have blown everyone’s minds. At least for a couple of years.

Then an entrepreneurial caveman would of course have sauntered into a large feast of some sort, smiling graciously, showing people the axis he’d made for fitting two wheels together. He’d leave that night with a bellyful of goat meat and contracts signed in flint. “Sure”, he might’ve said, “the first wheel was great and everything, but I have this totally fantastic idea: let’s see how far this can take us. I’m sick of walking. Aren’t you all sick of it?” To which he’d get firm nods from those closest, curious peeking from those at the back. They’d be interested to see what ideas he had in the long run. A few people might’ve spoken up against the idea of two, or even four wheels, replacing what they knew, what they were just getting used to. But this stone-age salesman would’ve been right on the money – getting the ball rolling, in more than one sense, for the sheer hell of it.

Drone technology has followed this hypothetical standard of prescient thought ever since models began hitting the shelves en masse. If the single wheel analogy is applied to commercial UAVs for the everyday consumer, then it took the gung-ho invention of operators in various industries to reach the two-wheel stage; or, more simply, the inevitable next step, the point at which the benefits of a product are inarguable, and thus destined for a revolutionary impact on the porous surface of our lives. It’s the same logical leap from Nokia handsets to Steve Jobs unveiling smart phone technology in 2007: a concept that’s cool and useful evolving into a multi-armed beast of proportional benefits for anything you can reasonably think of.

Many believe the drone market is already experiencing this accelerated period of development. Others, like 3D Robotics’ Chris Anderson, think that 2016 will be the crucial year. Several months ago, he compared the advent of integrated drone technology to the ways in which the internet has infiltrated every product that existed before it, drawing out their nascent potential for things that would’ve been unimaginable 15 or 20 years ago. “Time and time again,” he said, “the transformative changes are not the technology; it is who uses the technology. We are putting powerful tools in the hands of regular people. It is what we are doing with drones.”

Just as smart cars and smart cities are becoming an accepted reality, so too will commercial UAVs power into the public consciousness as staples of modern ingenuity. Associating drones with military services is already out of date, according to market trends. UK Business Insider reports that commercial drone revenue is forecast for a 19% rise over the next five years, compared to 5% for its military counterpart. By 2025, drone investment in the American commercial sector is predicted to surpass $5 billion. The flexible, cost-saving benefits of UAVs have been established – it is the move from being looked after at all times by a diligent operator, to navigating the skies and each other with near-total autonomy, that will enshrine them in the open pocket of the corporate toolkit. On top of this, drones will be able to process and manage larger chunks of data with little effort, accessing the currency that’s most often signposted for bettering our world.

Regulation, admittedly, has been slow to catch up with them. Stories of drones crashing on the White House lawn and MI5 agents scrambling at an innocent airborne payload litter the black rabbit hole of speculation: what if a drone does this, or this, or THIS??! Accordingly, federal bodies everywhere have different idea on who can fly a drone, where, and to what purpose. Such confusion may get ironed out as society accepts that a buzzing sound overhead does not mean imminent death. The Atlantic published a brilliant article recently on this very threat, investigating a range of detection systems that can alert people to unknown aircraft. Whatever advances are squeezed out of mass UAV demand, there is a need for governments to respond, keeping a close eye on the technology, giving support freely to operators and the public without supressing long-haul drone flights.

Similarly tricky is guessing exactly where the fattest industry growth will occur. Land-mapping and surveys is at the forefront, since drones for these purposes have established sensor capabilities, and can connect to smart phones and the internet. Pathfinding, environmental awareness, adaptive A.I. . . . . these are features that are being honed by an armada of talented programmers, primed for the seamless storage and communicability of cloud data to round them off.

Broadcasting will take another large slice of the pie: news services are using drones faster than news can probably keep up with, and movies and TV shows have snuck them into production with nary a glint of displeasure. Commercial grade consumer drones for videography are still the highest earners right now, and that trend is set to continue, but other corners of the market will nudge for attention as their effectiveness for drone solutions is made clear.

The scope and simplicity of UAV development is a hungry, darting piranha of myriad prey, snapping up the most commonplace and bizarre possibilities that are open to us, wafting between competing pools of thought. What’s certain is the monetary backbone of these sleek machines has made them strong, capable, and ready to swallow old perceptions. We never realise the obviousness of new inventions until they sit with us, strangers no more, like a pet you’ve grown to love after it’s tested its claws on your furniture. Like I said, who really wants a wheel? There’s a Bentley outside.

For more insight into UAV development and application, visit the SkyTech 2016 UAV conference & exhibition taking place next January in London. Further details can be found at www.skytechevent.com

By Joshua Potts