Did You See This?

In, Up, and Around Muscle Beach

A tiny drone’s acrobatic tour of a legendary California beach.

To film this amazing continuous aerial video tour of California’s legendary Muscle Beach, animator Robert McIntosh built what he says, in an email to Slate, is likely the world’s smallest HD drone. Obsessed with keeping the craft as compact as possible, he stripped away everything he could think of from a GoPro Hero 5 camera and even glued 2-inch propellers to his drone’s motors instead of metal screws to avoid adding weight. As it made its way through Venice Beach at 6:40 a.m. one sunny April morning, the little thing weighed in at just 120 grams.

Of course it would have to be tiny: It zips right through a hanging gymnastic ring, for one thing. And if you find yourself wondering how on earth the drone successfully navigates in reverse through its many obstacles, it’s movie magic: The video’s backward and has been digitally stabilized using ReelSteady. Even so, McIntosh has serious drone skills, as you can see from the original raw footage.