Inside FRiFF: The Flying Robot International Drone Film Festival

November 17, 2016
Tips and Techniques
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At ShareGrid, we love seeing all of the wonderful things filmmakers can create with their gear. That’s why we’re excited to talk about our partnership with the 2016 Flying Robot International Film Festival (FRiFF), which had a screening last night, November 17, 2016 at the Roxie Theatre in San Francisco, with an Aerial Imagery Day on the 19th at Monument. Festival creator Eddie Codel got the idea for a drone-based film festival after beginning to experiment with drones himself about three years ago.

The event last night.

“I saw a friend shoot a drone movie and was blown away by it. I decided to go down the rabbit hole myself and started capturing and making short drone films. At some point I was like, ‘You know what, there’s so much great stuff out there, I want to create a festival to celebrate that.’”

Image from last year's festival.

He certainly did. FRiFF’s inaugural festival in 2015 saw 153 submissions from 35 countries. This year was even bigger. With 180 submissions and the new Aerial Imagery Day, the festival is evolving in both quality and quantity.

“I would say absolutely the films are better in many respects,” Codel notes, “and I think that’s for several reasons. One is there’s an evolution in technology, so the drones have better lenses higher resolutions, they fly better, they're less expensive, and more people are picking them up and making drone films. So I think that has added up to making a perfect storm of awesome films.”

The evolution in technology is important, because it’s what continues to offer filmmakers access to the kinds of footage they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to get. That’s where this year’s Aerial Imagery Day, a workshop where people can learn everything from aerial photography basics to drone building, comes into play.

“We’re inviting people to come and just learn about all things related to drone-based aerial imagery. Well have filmmakers there talking about their process, how they’re able to capture certain shots, color grading techniques, post-production techniques, as well as 360 and what’s involved in that, 3D-mapping, live video streaming, pretty much anything having to do with image capturing on a drone.”

Codel is excited about the future of drone technology because, as he sees it, the skill barriers are continuing come down, making drones even more accessible to creatives.


“I think we’re starting to see improvements in the autonomy of drones… Basically you’re using computer-assisted camera maneuvers in a way that you really can’t do manually, so you can get a lot smoother shots using the intelligence of drones. Also, object avoidance and recognition is becoming a standard thing now, so you get a little more confidence in the ability to get close to objects without hitting them… We’re starting to see a class of drones that can be controlled in different ways… Now they’re making drones where you can basically just use your iPhone or you can just have it follow you or it can recognize an object that you can just say, ‘Follow this object.’ And it will do everything on its own.”

While embracing the present and future of drone technology, FRiFF is also about celebrating the artists who use it. Categories for drone films range from the traditional “Cinematic Narrative” to the fun “WTF LOL” and everything in between. So far, filmmakers have definitely risen to the occasion. Here’s the video that Eddie describes as, “One of the greatest of all time.”


We can’t wait to see what FRiFF 2016, and the future festivals, have in store. Until then, if you’re in the Bay Area, we hope to see you at Aerial Imagery Day on Saturday! Our SF City Manager, Anton Delfino will be there! Get your tickets here.

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Brent L Zaffino

I am a filmmaker out of Atlanta, Georgia currently working as a freelance director and videographer for music videos, short films, and corporate videos.

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