Dronie: “A video selfie taken with a drone.” (Kottke.org, April 15, 2014. Selfie, a self-portrait taken with a smartphone and shared on a social-media site, was the Oxford Dictionaries word of the year for 2013.)
Amit Gupta, who co-founded the photo newsletter Photojojo in 2006, was indirectly responsible for the “dronie” coinage when he posted this 15-second video in mid-April:
>Gupta called it a selfie, but in a comment Alex Dao dubbed it a dronie. (On her own Vimeo page, Dao calls herself “a maker-upper of words.” Shortly after posting the comment, Dao launched a Dronies Channel.) The word caught on quickly in social media and merited mention in other media, too, including Slate, Word Spy, and The Daily Mail (UK).
There’s a reason that you’re going to see a lot of these from drone flyers like me, and it’s this: once you get past the novelty of taking a camera high up in the air, getting a bird’s eye view of stuff is actually a little boring.
What birds see is actually a little boring. Humans are interesting. Getting close to stuff is interesting. I bet if we could strap tiny cameras to bird heads, most of what we’d want to look at would happen when they fly close to people. If we could, we’d put cameras on bird heads to take pictures of ourselves.
Photojojo has published detailed instructions for making your own dronie (click “How to Make the Perfect Dronie”) and in mid-May will offer in-person dronie lessons and rental drone cameras.
Dronie is a brand-new word, but articles about dronies often include a very old word: gimbal. (Photojojo: “A gimbal holds your camera level as your drone sways left, right, front, or back. It's especially handy on windy days.”) When gimbal entered English in the 16th century, it meant “joints” or “connecting links”; it comes from Old French jumel from Latin gemellus, meaning “twin.” In modern usage, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, a gimbal is:
A device consisting of two rings mounted on axes at right angles to each other so that an object, such as a ship's compass, will remain suspended in a horizontal plane between them regardless of any motion of its support.