Generally, we keep our newsletter content to discussion of major leaps forward in the drone industry, up-to-date commentary on the regulatory policies of various governments, or significant stories involving the largest drone service companies. But sometimes, all you want to do is look at a cool video. Something like this:
What you’re looking at is footage from a qualifying race for the Formula Drift Black Magic Pro Championship, taken with a GoPro Hero7 Black attached to a custom-built racing drone. Drifting is one of the most visually arresting forms of motorsport, with points being awarded for big skids, lots of smoke, and what should be impossible angles at which to drive a car. Formula Drift is the largest professional drifting championship series in North America, with 60 currently licensed drivers competing.
This year, Formula Drift (also known informally as “Formula D”) is making an effort to incorporate the latest technologies to make the sport appeal to more spectators. As part of this initiative, an all-electric vehicle will be competing for the first time in the championship series’ history (specifically, a modified Chevy Camaro with the equivalent of 515 horsepower and 800 lb-ft of torque.)
It’s also why they’ve started producing footage – uploaded to their official YouTube channel – taken by a racing drone that gets as close to the cars as possible. This video is taken by Johnny Schaer, known professionally as Johnny FPV, who has spent years perfecting the art of filming extreme sports from the first-person drone perspective. Among many other achievements, he was the winner of AirVūz’s 2019 Video Of The Year contest in the FPV category.
Like many pilots, Schaer controls his custom-built drone units through a Virtual Reality headset, which lets him see from the drone’s perspective as he flies. His skill at piloting and knack for spotting a great shot angle allows him to capture extraordinary footage that no other pilot can match. Though the exact specs aren’t a matter of public record, the racing UAV he is using to create this Formula Drift footage is compact, fast and very agile.
This is crucial, because it’s very hard for a normal drone to keep up with something as fast as a Formula Drift racing vehicle. Schaer’s reactions and hand-eye coordination have to be nearly perfect to avoid causing a crash while still getting the up-close footage that characterizes his work and sets these extreme sports videos apart from other forms of drone photography. Formula Drift racing makes the job of not crashing even harder, as he has to fly through the huge plumes of smoke generated by the cars themselves.
In short, Schaer’s work is incredibly impressive, and we’re thrilled to hear about his partnership with Formula Drift. But it should be noted that he is by no means the only extreme sports FPV drone photographer. Last month, RED-FPV captured this gorgeous footage in which he (mostly) keeps pace with Sébastien Loeb, the World Rally Championship’s most successful race car driver:
With footage as impressive as this, let’s hope this kind of FPV racing photography remains popular and profitable. I don’t know about you, dear readers, but I think I speak for everyone at Dronethusiast when I say that we could watch these kinds of videos all day!
The writer known as I Coleman is a veteran tech reviewer who’s spent seven years writing about everything from PC hardware to drone tech and who joined the Dronethusiast team early in 2017. I brings his characteristic sense of humor and attention to detail to our product reviews and buyer’s guides, making sure that they’re packed with expert analysis in a way that’s still easy for hobby newcomers to understand. In his spare time, I is using drones to create 3D modeling software for a company in his hometown.