The action cam videos you just have to watch
Action cams can capture videos that other cameras can’t. Their wide-angle lenses and lightweight bodies mean they can clip onto helmets, chest harnesses, and sports equipment to produce dramatic point-of-view shots, allowing viewers to get inside the heads of the elite athletes that use them.
As the quality of action cams has increased, so has the imagination of those using them. We’ve moved from grainy footage of a skier slowly carving down a slope to clips with high production values, booming background music, slick edits, and – most importantly – original ideas.
In honour of the raised standards, we’ve pulled together six of the best action camera videos ever shot.
From free-running from zombies across rooftops, to ski jumping over the whirling blades of a helicopter, these clips are nothing short of jaw-dropping – we recommend settling down somewhere to watch with a cup of coffee, and some paper towels ready for when you spit some of it out.
- Think we’ve missed one? Post your favourite action cam video in the comment section below.
Parkour with Zombies
When you think of zombies, you think of slowly shuffling creatures, arms outstretched, moaning deeply. You don’t think of parkour.
But when the developers behind 2015 video game Dying Light announced their zombies were going to be fast and agile, it provided the perfect source material for filmmakers Ampsiound.
At the request of the developers, the parkour fanatics made this three-minute video of a zombie chase from the point of view of a survivor. Naturally, an action cam was the perfect fit for the project.
Ampisound’s Scott Bass tells TechRadar that choosing the location, as well as preparing costumes and makeup for the zombies, took a month alone.
Most of the shots took just one or two attempts, he says – impressive considering the choreography of the moves, and the timing of the actors.
“I basically structured the film in a way that allows us to have a few ‘jump scare’ moments, some scary parkour itself and then finally wrap up with a realistic and intense ending,” he says.
What really makes this video great is the sound – the anxious breathing of the protagonist, the gargled screams of the zombies, and the insistent music. It’s genuinely tense.
Insane skiing freestyle
In the third of a trilogy of progressively more insane videos, world-renowned freestyle skier Candide Thevoux pulls a 360 over the spinning blades of a helicopter, lands double backflips, smashes through the windows of a mountainside barn, and hijacks a horse – all without leaving his skies.
Sharp editing, including slo-mo and seamless transitions, completes the package – it’s one of those videos that feels like it’s a collection of James Bond-style scenes all placed together in one long movie.
In short, ‘One of those days for Candide Thevoux’ is up there with the best skiing videos you’ll ever see.
Wingsuit flying through a 2 metre cave
Flying in a wingsuit takes serious guts. When you’re hurtling through canyons and over treetops at more than 100mph, one small mistake will very likely mean serious injury – or worse.
But in 2014, Uli Emanuele took it to the next level. He base jumped with his wingsuit off of a mountain in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland, aiming to pass through a cave little more than two metres wide that jutted out of the hillside.
Insane? Maybe. Make sure you’re not somewhere that yelping will be a problem when you watch this though… it’s tough viewing.
Climbing a skyscraper with no safety equipment
Get ready for sweaty palms just watching this. When daredevil climber James Kingston – famous for climbing landmarks like Wembley stadium and the Eiffel Tower with no safety equipment – says something is “mental”, you perk up and listen.
In this video, Kingston climbs a 101-storey skyscraper – Marina 101 in Dubai – as the sun rises in the distance.
The video picks up Kingston as he reaches the top floor. It’s nearly 500m above ground – but that’s not high enough for him. Prepare to have your heart in your mouth as Kingston, chatting casually all the while, scales a huge, nearly vertical crane that is slick with grease, the Dubai skyline fanning out in the distance.
Man vs Tube: Running against the London Underground
Do you think you could outrun the London Underground? That was the burning question that drove YouTube channel Epic Challenges to stage the capital’s ultimate man vs machine race.
The theory is simple: a man is on the tube with a chum. The doors open. He sprints off, the train pulls out of the station and the race is on to see who can get to the next station first.
The stage is the stretch of road between Mansion House and Cannon street, a popular section of the English capital’s streets, on the Circle Line. 380 metres, 75 steps, two ticket barriers, one tube stop. It comes down to the wire.
Felix Baumgartner’s world record freefall up close
In 2012, Felix Baumgartner took a balloon ride up to the edge of space – and jumped. On his descent he broke several world records, and became the first man to break the sound barrier in freefall, reaching an eye-watering speed of 833.9mph.
Handily, Baumgartner was wired with several GoPros. Even if you watched the jump live (and let’s be honest, who didn’t?), it’s worth seeing it from his perspective, as he struggles to control a violent spin early in his descent.