A Kinder, Friendlier Use for Drones: Shooting Music Videos

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 29 2013 8:30 PM

This Music Video Shot Using a Drone Is Amazing

There’s a moment about two-and-a-half minutes into this live video from the French group Phoenix when you’re likely to think, “Wait—how did they do that?” That’s because director Colin Solal Cardo and the folks from the great site La Blogothèque have found a kinder, friendlier use for a pretty scary technology: drones.

The whole performance (starting about one minute in) is shot live in one take at the Palace of Versailles (the mics, presumably, were placed on the ground), but it starts in the air, comes right down to the band, and then, around 2:30, launches off into the stratosphere again. The effect is stunning. Before, this kind of shot was only possible to simulate, using hidden cuts, as in this scene from 2009’s The Secret in Their Eyes, or using animated long takes. But now you can strap a digital camera to a drone and take off.

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Well, depending on whether you can get the clearance. Since 2007, the use of commercial drones has been mostly prohibited by the FAA, including for airborne cinematography, but in the last month the FAA has started to crack the door open to commercial uses. In the meantime, drone cinematography has remained a bit of a frontier, shot only illegally or in other countries, though that hasn’t stopped enterprising filmmakers and drone operators from shooting some dazzling videos. (This one has ninjas.) Hopefully the FAA will figure out how to regulate this safely, so we can get more videos like this one.

Previously
R. Kelly Remixes Phoenix in Very R. Kelly Fashion

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer.