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  1. Pointingdc

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    I'm looking for a drone to film horse racing and the Phantom 4 appears to the the closest consumer drone to my requirements, but I don't think the features I am looking for are yet available. So I thought I'd check whether the features can be combined or not from actual users of the device, as searching online and in this forum, has not yielded the answer.

    Basically I am looking for a drone that can fly inside a racecourse at racing speeds, approx 35mph, alongside a horserace to live stream it via Periscope. So, my research tells me:
    - I can use the waypoints feature to map out a course that is 50 meters from the inside of the track itself (The UK's CAA regulations are not to fly within 50m of a vehicle or person, or within 150m of a crowd of 1000+), that flies over the hedges on the fairly level track in the example. [I would need CAA approval as they probably consider this work, even though its unpaid and its within 400m of the nearest powerlines]
    - I can use Litchi to set out a waypoint course with curved turns to better match the corners of the racecourse and make it easier to keep the camera focused on the horses
    - I can use Active Track to track a horse whilst racing
    - I can use sport mode to allow the phantom 4 to travel at the required speed
    - The flight time is sufficient to allow for a 6 minute race, plus 5 minutes or more circling at the start prior to racing.
    Note: I might not be able to do this anyway, as in some cases drone operators have been advised only to flight above or behind horses to avoid spooking them, which could increase the risk to the horse, jockey and potentially by-standers [getting public liability insurance cover will be interesting enough anyway without additional risks].

    My question is can I use those features in combination? so I would effectively use the waypoints as a GPS perimeter which the drone can't venture outside, whilst using active track to keep up with the racing to allow me to control the gimbal/camera during the race?
    - I don't think active track allows the subject that is being tracked to be switched does it? e.g. the horse I'm tracking pulls up and I need to switch to another one to continue tracking the race. From what I've read I'd have to exit active tracking and restart with a new subject.
    - I'm not sure the sport mode is available with active tracking and way points enabled, every search I tried found explanation or demonstration of individual features rather than how they can work in combination.

    Drone_flight_horseracing.jpg

    In terms of angle of shot/distance to cover the racing - a horse is approx 9 feet in length and a field might be spread out over 30 lengths, so 270ft and allowing a third of the image for the horses to run into that would be approx 400ft. By my calculations the DJI's upto 20mm focal length lens would allow me to achieve 297ft (84 degrees) at 20mm and 424ft (105 degrees) at 14mm. If the horses are racing closer than that they might appear small in the frame though - hopefully not too small for active track though.

    Other questions like, if the subject horse is in the middle the pack, how long will active track keep trying to acquire the subject before it gives up? I guess I would need to try out to get the answers.

    Here are some examples of where pro drones have been used to film racing.
    Aerial drone photography for horse racing and other sports events
    (this is the very similar to the kind of racing that I would intend to filming

    The British Broadcaster Channel 4 has also used a Batcam drone to film racing from the Royal Ascot meeting.
     
    #1 Pointingdc, Jul 5, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2016
  2. SoundByte

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    I don't have Litchi however I don't think you can combine intelligent flight modes with any third party app. I don't know if Litchi will but I have autopilot and this is what you can do with it.

    1. Program your waypoints with rounded curves just like you wanted to do. Bezier curves, or rounded arc using the intersecting coarses as tangents. This app can do either.

    2. Change the "MISSION TYPE" to JOYSTICK
    The aircraft will fly along the Flight Path according to the Left Remote Control Joystick. Pushing Up will cause the aircraft to fly forward along the Flight Path, and pushing Down will cause the aircraft to fly backward along the Flight Path. If the Joystick is not pushed to the limit, the speed at the current Flight Path location will be reduced to match the Joystick percentage.

    3. Set the "FOCUS STRATEGY" to JOYSTICK
    Autopilot will pitch and yaw the gimbal (if possible) and/or yaw the aircraft by matching movements on the Right Remote Control Joystick (similar to a slave Remote Control on an Inspire 1).

    This strategy will allow you to control your speed in real time while manually focusing the camera on the subject of your choice. Alternately, you can automatically track a subject by defining a pattern on the screen, similar to active track but what happens when your subject is mixed with a bunch of similar subjects. You could also track a GPS equipped iOS device that can be planted on the subject itself. Autopilot has a huge amount of options but it comes with a steep learning curve. It costs about $10 more and for these two reasons people tend to favour Litchi. That being said, because it uses a custom controller that doesn't need to rely on the DJI SDK, it can do so much more.
     
    #2 SoundByte, Jul 5, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2016
  3. Jussaguy

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    You don't need to use active track to do what you want.

    Just use the way points with Bézier curves and just rotate and use the tilt on the cam to follow the horse/s you want. Using active track would be a mess in that situation.

    Basically consider it like the Curved Cable Cam on the Q5 and Typhoon H and have it rotate around while adjusting your cam as needed.

    That's if I'm reading your info correctly. I'm about to take off on a plane right now and skimmed it.

    Making shots more conplex than neccasery is always bad. Simple as possible is the way to go.

    IMO, your biggest hurdle will be figuring out the right speed to run the mission. I would do some practice runs.
     
  4. Pointingdc

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    Thank you for your replies, it sounds more feasible than I was expecting. Now I've just got to test it out and make sure its viable in practice, before I start asking every man and his dog for permission to do the event for real.
     
  5. SoundByte

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    Basically what I just said. However, Autopilot allows you to control the speed with the left stick and the camera with the right stick. Autopilot looks after altitude and coarse for you so you can focus on the money.
    EDIT: one caveat though, iOS only, Androids are not welcome to the party. if you're use an android device you'll need to figure out how to do it with Litchi. I just downloaded it and will learn it so I know a little more about it when someone asks.
     
    #5 SoundByte, Jul 5, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2016
  6. SoundByte

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    Definetly can be done, but as jussaguy said. Don't try and make the controller do it all. The simpler the better.
     
  7. Jussaguy

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    Didn't know that. Cool beans. Will have to try out Autopilot. Wonder if they will give me a free trial. Thanks for the info.