The week of February 1, 2015

How to take the perfect drone selfie

By Rob Price

If you haven’t already crashed your drone, then you’re probably itching to do something productive with it. Allow me to introduce the dronie.

A dronie is exactly what it sounds like: a video selfie taken with your new Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). The Financial Times has recently claimed we’re entering “the age of the dronie,” so there’s no better time to start indulging in some airborne narcissism than now.

Here’s how you go about it.

Step 1: Get a drone

The folk at Hobby Horizon were kind enough to provide me with a drone for this article—a 350 QX2. I had no complaints, and it retails for $469. There are plenty of alternative, from the high-end DJI Phantoms to cheaper parrot drones, which often comes with blade protectors that are useful in enclosed areas (not that that’s advisable).

Step 2: Learn to fly a drone

This is an important step. I managed crash my drone into a tree on its very first flight, losing a leg. Luckily, the damage was easily repairable. On a long enough timeframe, however, a crash or “flyaway”—where you lose control and the drone flies awayas once happened to my hapless editor—is almost inevitable.


My poor damaged drone.

Step 3: Strap on your camera

You’ll need a camera now, or your dronie plans will hit an immediate hurdle. My QX2 came bundled with a C-GO-1 camera, which worked adequately, albeit a little lacking in definition and color. Another popular choice is the now-ubiquitous GoPro, which you can’t go wrong with.

Learning to fly

A video posted by Rob Price (@robaeprice) on

Step: 5: Take a dronie

And now you take your dronie. It’s very simple: Aim at your face, pull out and up, and reveal the (hopefully lovely) scenery around you.

Step 6: Get creative

That’s basically it. It’s all very simple. The beauty of a dronie lies in the scenery. Get creative! It’s not your mug that people are interested in; it’s the glorious environs where you’re flying your overpriced toy.

It’s advisable to speed up the footage taken, or the viewer will be subjected to the entire, arduous ascent of the UAV. (I sped up all of the dronies included in this article at least somewhat.) If you’re on a Mac, iMovie will do this easily; for Windows users, Movie Maker is your best bet if you don’t want to shell out extra cash for specialized software.

Many modern cameras (and drones with built-in ones) offer first-person view (FPV) functionality via a wireless transmitter, broadcasting back footage from the drone to your phone in real time. The slight lag makes it not ideal for trying to steer the drone with, but it’s perfect for framing shots.

Step 7: Congratulations! You’ve taken a dronie!

Now take it to the next level.

And in reverse!

Disclosure: The author was not asked to return the drone provided by Horizon Hobby for the reporting of this story.

Photo via Mauricio Lima/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)