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Best way to get smooth shots *onsite* for the first time?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by theTastyCat, Oct 15, 2016.

  1. theTastyCat

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    Hey all - so I've found that for shots that require anything more than simple motion (flight that's straight forward or straight up and down), I vastly prefer the smoothness of Litchi missions. Manual flying so often results in those little bumps that ruin any sort of professional feel to video.

    But, we don't always have the luxury of visiting a place more than once; sometimes you just have to show up, shoot video, and leave.

    So what's the best way to get good video? Do you take the time to plan and input Litchi missions after you've arrived? Seems like the POI function in DJI Go and Orbit in Litchi should work well, but whenever I try, it seems the camera has to "catch up" and adjust, ruining the shot. Even Course Lock in DJI Go is hard to do a flyby with because you have to manually control yaw.

    How do you all approach this issue? Are automated Litchi missions really the only way to go for smooth video unless circumstances just don't permit it? I'll admit I haven't played with creating a mission in the air by adding waypoints - is that worth it? I find it hard to take my time and focus on mission planning when I'm burning through battery in the air - but maybe that is the answer after all.

    Grateful for your input!
     
  2. Juergen B

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    I relate to this! Buttery smooth video is my holy grail as well. For one thing I've been spending a ton of time learning and practicing to fly ATTI mode, and more often than not find myself using this as the results with Litchi and Autoflightlogic are not as smooth and harder to set up. PS a shout out to DroneU for practice and flight patterns from the community to help me get smoother...

    But this being said, I find that the Autoflightlogic app results in much smoother footage than Litchi (YMMV), because of their interpolation settings and options. However, it does have a bigger learning curve.

    My favorite mode is cruise mode, which is similar to Litchi's "focus" mode, but lets you fly all over the place while keeping the focus on a single object very smoothly.


    Sent from my iPad using PhantomPilots
     
  3. With The Birds

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    Where possible plan your litchi mission prior to visiting the location with a safety margin for altitude. Fly manually on site to get a feel for the altitudes and clearances and tune your mission accordingly, saves time.

    Have a clear idea in your mind what you hope to pull off before you get there. You may find some of what you planned can't be done and inevitably will have new ideas when you actually see what's there.

    Practice your basic moves. Pans and reveals are farly simple to master. Even an orbit isn't difficult once the stick actions click in your head. To orbit all you need to do is yaw sideways in your rotation direction and yaw to keep your POi in frame. Fly by's can be a little more challenging, esp when you are changing altitude and you need to be on the gimble pitch wheel as well as the sticks. Course lock is very handy here removing the need to worry about complex pitch adjustments. Ultimate precision in framing isnt as important and smoothness. Tune your gains and expos and practice smooth movements.

    I use both litchi and autopilot and they are fantastic. I find as time goes on however I am using them less often as my skills improve. I just practice the basic moves, after a while you find you are concentrating less on the sticks and more on the creative process.
     
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  4. theTastyCat

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    This is hugely helpful, guys - thank you. I actually did once experience using Atti - granted, it was indoors, but still I found that Atti gave me the smoothest results. And indeed, who cares if you're flying in a perfectly straight line if the video is smooth?

    I'll certainly look into Autoflightlogic - here I thought Litchi was the holy grail! Would be nice to have that Cruise mode - I experimented a bit with some of the Litchi flight modes today but wasn't hugely impressed. Nice to know there are other alternatives! I'm also fully cognizant of my extremely limited familiarity with using Litchi on the fly, so I'm sure a knowledgeable operator could do far more.

    I will keep practicing manually - it's just that a nice Litchi POI mission, keeping the POI perfectly centered, is truly a magical thing. But not everything has to be orbiting around a POI! Great advice here.
     
  5. tml4191

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    This helped me out:

    Aftermarket Knobs for controller.. Dji please make these the new standard

    The knobs are subjective though; it's more preference since everyone is basically unique. As for smooth shots, POI is difficult to get a full 360 when doing it manual, but it is possible. It's like a boat steering; it's best to kind of predict where the next movement is going to be at for that smooth flowing motion. The jerky movement is usually from a sudden change of direction, so keeping it moving like a boat, or like water, is kind of ideal for smooth shots.

    Also, some video(s) from youtube, I think TOm's guide, said to shoot slow because one can always speed up the video in post editing, and it's just easier to control.
     
  6. Traveler

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    I have never used Autopilot so I can't give an opinion, however Litchi works very well. I find it is better than I at keeping the same speed and makes reasonably smooth turns and elevation changes.

    That said, I like to preplan in the comfort of my quite space, aka home. Then when I arrive, I scope out the terrain for any obstacle that didn't show on GoogleEarth and adjust accordingly. I check for NFZ data and all associated aspects, i.e., NOTAMS, and lastly I make an observation of any persons will be within the path. This sometimes leads to adding wait time to the launch, but it is what it is. Once I was at a local lake/park and because I was filming all aspects of the site, i.e., water, basketball court, dog-park, playground, I took the time to introduce myself and inform the parents of some kids on the playground that I would be doing a flyby. Not close enough to be a risk, but knowing parents, I wanted to give them a voice to object. Turns out they were a fan of the technology and although the kids were off the playground before the flyby, the dad hungout to watch the bird in flight. Was a good day.

    I know you prefaced this thread with only being able to visit a given site once, but when possible I would like to review the collected footage and make adjustments to the saved mission as needed. This ability, IMO, may be the best reason to use a waypoint mission vs manual control, but if your going to fly manual, than I most certainly agree with Juergen B, learn and fly in ATTI. Much smoother than GPS mode.

    Cheers


    Sent from my iPad using PhantomPilots
     
    #6 Traveler, Oct 15, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2016
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  7. With The Birds

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    Ageee 100%.... after the event we see opportunities to tweak missions and in reviewing the footage almost always have ideas for some cool takes we didn't get on the day. I see the OP's predicament though. We don't always have the luxury of going back, not easily anyway (owner approvals, travel plans etc). It might also be on a particular day we have beautiful lighting and other conditions we may never see again.

    I am not proposing manual control as the best approach either. I have used, and suspect I will continue to fly with litchi and other apps. I am saying for me ATM I am enjoying the challenge of controlling the AC to get my footage. I do prefer GPS mode to ATTI as it saves having to correct for wind drift which simplifies things. You can fly smoothly in GPS mode when you get a feel for it. As others have said slow and gentle and planning the moves in your mind ahead helps a lot.
     
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  8. theTastyCat

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    A lot of great advice here, all. I can get good footage when flying for pleasure, but as a newly minted 107 operator I confess I'm thinking primarily of real estate jobs where I need to be proud of the result, typically only having one opportunity to evaluate and fly.

    It is certainly true that each and every time I fly I learn something. Got some new ideas to try out now!
     
  9. With The Birds

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    Ok so practice on your own and friends places and when on a real assignment take more footage than you will need for the final edit. I watched in amazement while a supposed expert RE operator flew around a property two down from me last week. They had an inspire with X5 up for at least 40 mins total. Looked in the air like it was piloted by a monkey. The final 1:20 clip and the photos looked reasonably ok though. If the job turns out crap you will get another chance to return before you see any money.
     
  10. tml4191

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    You can always stabilize the video when editing . Powerdirector 15/ 14etc... has this feature.
     
  11. theTastyCat

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    PhantomKnobs ordered! $4.98, free shipping......what a NO BRAINER!!
     
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  12. With The Birds

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    After your first half dozen jobs under your belt you will have your own technique well advanced. Now we know what your doing another point might be that pre planning with litchi won't be an option in a lot of cases. The owner/agent/marketing associate will be watching your live view director style telling you how to do-ordinate and fly the shots.
     
  13. matti

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    I have done several very simple Litchi Waypoint missions with Heading > Auto (toward the next waypoint) and Default Gimbal Pitch Mode > Disabled (remote controller to control pitch).

    So before starting the Litchi mission, I put the AC to the mission altitude and set the gimbal pitch manually to cover about 80% of ground and 20% of sky. That works great.

    But I have trouble when I want the gimbal pitch to focus some POI at some AC altitude with about 20% of sky at the POI. Is there a trigonometry-aware calculator for that??
     
  14. Rjeffw

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    I find that using the Focus feature is real nice. I did a job yesterday and with the focus on the house, or whatever I am looking at, I can concentrate on controlling the drone, and not the gimbal. I find I get very smooth shots that way.
     
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  15. Rjeffw

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    I would also recommend taking a laptop or tablet, that has a micro sd port so you can review the film, and re-fly a section if need be.
     
  16. John Locke

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    That's a good price. I like these silicon type knobs that slip on the sticks. Works on P4 and inspire controllers.

    Bestem BT-PHANTOM-KNOB5 PhantomKnob P3 Adv Precision Control Knobs for DJI Phantom 3 Adv Contollers, (Pair) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B011N949TE/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_3TocybX9JY0H9

    Or this inspire version...

    PhantomKnob "Inspire 1" - Precision control knobs for DJI Inspire 1 & Phantom Co | eBay
     
    #16 John Locke, Oct 20, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2016
  17. DroneLogic

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    I've been using Litchi for a three or four missions now and alway find it gives me results which I don't think I could ever get flying 'manually'.
    I've included a video which I took involving a flight plan entirely assembled before I left home. When I arrived on location I launched the P4, flew the mission in 13-14 minutes and was all finished an packed within 20 minutes of arriving. I flew the whole mission at 50 m being very confident that there was nothing in the town this tall. The other benefit is that a proper flight plan will almost do away with the need to edit the final product (apart from colour, exposure and contrast corrections}. So from my point of view Litchi produces great videos and saves lots of time.
     
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  18. Rjeffw

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    Here is a mission I did using the focus tool in Litchi. I flew, Litchi controlled the camera. Makes it much easier. The nice thing about the focus tool, is you can set your speed. I wish you could set you speed in regular fly mode.
     
  19. theTastyCat

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    So several things.

    1. Got the Bestem Aerial rubber replacement knobs - GOOD GOD. I don't understand how rubber knobs that cost less than $5 including shipping can make THIS much difference. It's changed everything and given me so much more confidence in my ability to fly manually with an impressive degree of smoothness. I think because they are larger around, they simply make it easier to push the stick in exactly the direction you want, and I think the squishiness allows you to get tactile feedback of how much pressure you're putting on.

    2. Litchi Focus - tried it today but was a bit disappointed. Was trying to do a flyby on a giant American flag (40'x80'), but the camera couldn't seem to track as quickly as I wanted to do the flyby. When I slowed the speed down (which IS fantastic and I too wish it was available in a regular flight mode) it did a much better job - seems like I either need to be slow or far away in order to get good tracking like in the above vid. Best results of the day actually were flying GPS manually.

    Gotta say I'm still having trouble trusting Litchi/DJI Go on things like course lock. I swear up and down I've watched my bird veer *toward* the POI when it's supposed to be going straight. I realize part of that is that when you're panning for a flyby, it is going to look like the drone is going towards the object, but it's really an illusion, but I've seen it veer towards the POI when I've been watching the bird itself VLOS. There's no reason it should be doing this, but I swear it almost caused me to hit the flagpole today. Probably closest I've ever come. I need to just keep experimenting. Again, I actually feel most secure when doing a flyby manually - I know that when I'm closest to the POI, I'm giving the bird sidestick and, as always, it's doing exactly what I'm asking it to.

    Many, many thanks, all - really appreciate all the good tips here! Maybe if we're lucky a dev will allow us to slow flight speed down eventually :)
     
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  20. David Cooke

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    I've had many of the same issues too when I got my phantom 4.... to get really smooth transitions and flybys you need to
    1. Lengthen the joysticks for finer control
    2. Detune the control inputs so the greatest increase is nearer the end of travel ( under controller menu)
    3. Set gimbal speed around 30%
    4. Use course lock a lot
    5. Practice the pan, tilt and timing of the shot more than once .... before you turn the camera on
    6. Don't turn the camera off till well after you think you got it right. Most say at least 10 sec
    I'm still learning litchi so dji go does quite well for me ... so far I'm only using litchi for preplanned routes


    Sent from my iPhone using PhantomPilots
     
    #20 David Cooke, Oct 22, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2016
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