A guest post by Part 107 Pilot and writer Kara Murphy.
The 3rd annual Flying Robot international Film Festival (FRiFF), the world’s premiere competition highlighting the best in drone culture and aerial cinema, landed at San Francisco’s historic Roxie Theater this past Thursday. The evening began, around the corner, at 518 Valencia where SanDisk, X Class Drone Racing, and more held court. The official screening followed where Justin Hall emceed and kept the crowd in stitches.
25 films were nominated across seven categories — Cinematic Narrative, Epic Landscape, Drones for Good, FPV Racing & Freestyle, WTF LOL, Promotional, and Student Film. Read on to discover, and watch, the winning entries plus find out what Zoe Stumbaugh (Zoe FPV), a renowned FPV pilot, thought of Paul “Nurk” Nurkalla’s winning, controversial film.
Best in Show + Audience Choice
+ 2D RUN – Mixed Motion Project, Ilko Iliev [Bulgaria]
+ Best Of: Ottsjö by Air and Timelapse, Marcus Möller [Sweden]
+ Runner Up: Bulgaria: East to West, Brian Leitten [USA]
+ Best Of: Last Chance, Bapu Madhu [USA]
+ Runner Up: Home: The Philippines From a New Perspective, Christer Isulat [Panama]
Drones For Good
+ Best Of: The Zanzibar Mapping Initiative, Chris Morgan [Tanzania]
+ Runner Up: Buffalo Bayou Rising, Martin Lisius [USA]
FPV Racing & Freestyle
+ Best Of: Flight of the Year, Paul Nurkkala [USA]
+ Runner Up: Cross-Training, Jacob Yubeta [USA]
+ Best Of: Mendocino Abalone Trip, Kyle Stangrover [USA]
+ Runner Up: Drones: Take Flight, Seth Dacio [USA]
+ Best Of: Our Story, Kostas Petsas [Greece]
+ Runner Up: Drobots Company STEM Programs, Robert Elwood [USA]
(Video not available for streaming, please check the main FRiFF Winners section).
+ Best Of: 2D RUN – Mixed Motion Project, Ilko Iliev [Bulgaria]
+ Runner Up: Drone Cake Baking, Lucas Zanotto [Norway]
Anyone who has spent a moment in the drone forums has likely seen Nurk’s scintillating “Flight of the Year.” It has received equal amounts of praise and criticism — the latter surrounding the safety and legality of his drone operation. Zoe FPV, also a judge for FRiFF, took to the stage to ask him some tough, thought-provoking questions about it.
Risk is certainly a factor that needs to be weighed when taking any flight. As it turns out, capturing the train was a serendipitous moment for Nurk. He had intended to fly the mountains but as the train approached, he assessed the risk at hand and decided to go for it. “There’s risk in pushing limits but at the end of the day it’s something beautiful that I hope we can all appreciate.”
Some of the best freestyle moments are improvised or off the cuff. When asked, Nurk acknowledged that the video was a product of “a bad case of one-upmanship.” Once he successfully executed a stunt, he tried to figure out how to top it. Needless to say, he was thrilled when he landed the drone after pulling off every last maneuver.
Zoe and Nurk both concluded that safety-wise, flying over a train wasn’t a big deal but legality-wise, it definitely pushed boundaries. However, both Zoe and an enthused audience member encouraged Nurk to “keep it up.” Her final thought: “It sparks a conversation…it shows the world that something that might be weird legality is not a big deal.”
FRiFF will return for it’s fourth installment late next year. The call for entries officially opens March, 2018.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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