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A Beautiful Film Of New York City, Shot Entirely By Drone

Using a Phantom quadcopter to soar through the city’s urban canyons, filmmaker Nicolas Doldinger shows New York from above.

We’ve written a lot about some of the less-than-scary uses of personal drones that are likely to emerge once the FAA figures out how to incorporate these suped up remote control planes into our airspace. The former military tech will likely come home to roost in a variety of roles that aren’t just militaristic, including taking pictures of farms, emergency response , or assembling skyscrapers.

But add another potential function to the civilian drone’s resume: making sick movies. A video recently added to Vimeo by New York City-filmmaker Nicolas Doldinger is guaranteed to make film geeks squirm with anxiety until they can get their hands on the Phantom quadcopter used to film the thing. The camera in his short "First Flight of the Phantom" soars over New York City with a certain ease and grace that’s a testament to the joy of filmmaking, taking in Central Park, city streets, Union Square, and Grand Central Station.

Of course, on the flip-side the pretty film only reinforces some of worst fears about personal use of UAVs—that they will only accelerate our march toward self-surveillance, eroding whatever miniscule privacy rights we have (with an aesthetic pleasant enough to make us forget anything sinister is even happening).

But the more surprising part of the video is that Doldinger was able to make it without getting busted in the near police state of Manhattan. No one seems to notice—not even the pedestrians over whose heads the quadcopter is flying—which shows just how quiet and inconspicuous these technologies can be.