Unmanned aerial drones are changing filmmaking, news reporting, and nature photography. These remote-controlled miniature aircraft can get breathtaking shots that no camera crane or helicopter could achieve. Watching videos shot by drones is almost like flying yourself. Here are some of my favorites.
Volcanic Lava Flow
This footage of a lava river from an Icelandic volcano is beautiful and terrifying. It could be another planet, or a land from Game of Thrones, or Hell itself -- both bone-chillingly cold and murderously hot. You almost expect a dragon, or a demon, or the armies of the dead to emerge.
Oil Facility Fire
More fire -- and this one was deadly. It's an oil storage facility in Ukraine. The firefighters' spray of water looks puny next to the huge conflagration, which eventually caused some tanks to explode. As the day turns into night, the fire only gets worse. It would kill several firefighters the next day.
New York City
In some ways, New York City can only be fully appreciated from above. In this video, you can pretend you're Spider-Man, swinging between the towers -- or even Superman, surveying the whole island from high above.
For the kid in you: Fly through the exploding fireworks of a massive pyrotechnic show. Colors burst all around you, and then sparks rain down onto the water. Good stuff.
Sheep Being Herded
You wouldn't think sheep would make for cool drone footage, but this video is absolutely hypnotic. Seen from far above, the movement of the herd is like liquid, or iron shavings drawn by a magnet, or maybe some kind of mathematical wave function brought to life. Like the video says, it's definitely "one cool thing."
Thanks to photographer David Rankin, you can experience the immense power of a flash flood -- a river of water, mud, and debris rushing right towards you. Then you hover alongside the deluge as it barrels towards the cliffs of Southern Utah. No music or narration; just the awesome force of nature.