High quality wearable cameras, like GoPros and the Panasonic A series, have done a lot to spread rare experiences to casual viewers. We can digitally tour countries on the other side of the world with just a click, we can skydive or wingsuit without risking our lives, and we can share creative short films across borders.

We’re a culture that plays video games and watches found footage horror movies. We naturally take to first person storytelling. By lending us experiences in short bursts, these films also have the ability to evoke quick, emotional reactions.

Strapping a wearable camera to an animal to gain a new visual perspective has become popular. Here, you can see a pelican in Tanzania learning to fly for the first time. What’s remarkable is even a young bird like this is so stable; our viewpoint barely shakes as the bird flies.

Who wouldn’t love to fly through the clouds on the back of an eagle? This is what half of ’80s fantasy movies were made from. With the introduction of these cameras, the experience is possible.

Here, relax as you fly through the Alps:

If you’re scared of heights, you can always go for a hypnotic reef ride on the back of a sea turtle.

Of course, humans aren’t the only filmmakers around. This cameraman wanted to know what a seagull would do to his camera. The answer? Steal it, of course, because seagulls are bastards. (Turn down the volume a bit on this one, because seagulls are also loud.)

If you want to know what kind of film an octopus would create, the answer is a pretty terrible one. Mostly, they just make weird French art films about color and sound.

Animal attacks become new experiences, too. When the animal is successfully fended off, you can even learn a thing or two about what it takes to survive such an incident. Ever wondered what it’s like to be attacked by a moose?

Or how about a shark? Well, no one’s actually caught a shark attack on GoPro (please don’t take this as a challenge), but several have created convincing fakes. Wearable cameras allow a new form of amateur filmmaking, using them in combination with CGI to tell brief stories.

There’s a chance this video shot by a diver in the Cayman Islands is real, but if you look at the movement of the shark early on, it stutters as if it’s motion-tracked by computer. This could be a recording artifact, but it’s unlikely. In the end, if your heart is racing, what does it matter if the film was digitally manipulated?

This shark attack filmed in Sydney Harbor garnered more than 30 million hits. Proven to be fake, the creators cleverly spliced together documentary footage of a Great White Shark and green-screened the diver’s motions. Regardless, the short film became a viral found footage horror movie in its own right.

Let’s get back to real movies for a second, so you can experience these cameras’ greatest strengths:

These videos can help spread empathy and humanity, reminding us even on our worst day, we each still carry a boundless capacity to make a difference in the lives of others; from a firefighter resuscitating a kitten…

…to a father and son rescuing doomed deer off a frozen lake in Minnesota. Without them, these stranded deer would otherwise have starved or frozen to death.

Sometimes, a helping hand makes all the difference:

Cheap, wearable cameras are helping to democratize filmmaking. They’re putting the capability to tell stories and make movies in the hands of more and more people. Remember, none of these viewing experiences is the same as actually living them, so get out there, make a difference, and make some films of your own.


Do you have a favorite video like this? What do you like watching best: flying, fighting for survival, or lending a helping hand?

 Additional image: Bored Panda



Gabriel Valdez
Gabriel Valdez
Gabriel is a movie critic who's been a campaign manager in Oregon, an investigative reporter in Texas, and a film producer in Massachusetts. His writing was named best North American criticism of 2014 by the Local Media Association. He's assembled a band of writers who focus on social issues in film. They have a home base.