The Year's Best Drone Videos in Three Minutes Flat

Montage from drone film festival showcases the artistic potential of UAV camera systems.

One of the most genuinely impressive viral videos to make the rounds of late comes from the good people of the New York City Drone Film Festival.

Billed as the first festival dedicated exclusively to the emerging art of drone cinematography, the NCYDFF held its second annual soiree earlier this year. Filmmakers from around the globe entered their projects into competition, with categories and awards for Narrative Film, News and Documentary, Landscape, Architecture and Extreme Sports.

The fest organizers have since assembled a 3-minute "best-of" montage that's entirely worth three minutes of your day.

#NYCDFF 2016 MONTAGE from NYCDFF on Vimeo.

While the festival generally focuses on films and video segments shot by camera-equipped drones, it also includes films that feature drones and humans collaborating in new and artistic ways. For instance, the lovely behind-the-scenes feaurette "Sparked" documents performers and technicians with Cirque de Soleil working with a fleet of impossibly graceful -- and costumed! -- quadcopters.

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This year's festival received 350 film submissions from 45 countries, which unspooled in the Big Apple over the course of three days. Festival organizers also found time for a slate of panel discussions and even some high-speed FPV drone racing.

The montage video draws from all categories and is clearly designed to pop your eyeballs right out of your skull. (That phrase isn't used in the official marketing material, actually.) Drone cameras can get access to places and achieve shots that are literally impossible otherwise, as you'll see several times in the video.

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The close-up footage of the active volcano comes to mind, as does the vertigo-inducing passage where a drone flips and zooms through multiple levels of an urban streetscape. Some of the images are hauntingly beautiful, in a 21st-century kind of way, like the images of purple mountain majesty fading into amber waves of solar panels.

Also watch for a startling sequence from an amphibious drone camera that starts in the sky and ends underwater. Pretty great. You can see the full HD versions of most of the NYCDFF films over at the festival website.

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