Whenever I arrive at a stunning location and the sunset starts to show my Adrenalin and excitement starts to kick in. Will this be the evening where I get that amazing drone video footage I was hoping for all month? Hastily I unpack my DJI Mavic Pro, after all I don’t want to miss the chance at recording the beautiful evening twilight. But little did I know at that moment that later during the flight I will move the gimbal at several places too abruptly. I am sure if you have ever recorded a video with a drone you know this feeling. In the end the footage was not usable.

I decided to do something about these disappointing experiences and thus we started at Drone Harmony to integrate a flight plan smoothing feature into our mission planner. The implemented feature is now smoothing the flight path, the gimbal and the yaw movements. We also wanted that you can prepare the flight plan easily in advance before the critical time (sunset, arriving train, passing sports car…) arrives. In order to achieve that we added a flight recording feature which allows you to record and smoothen the flight plan in advance of the actual time of recording.

Let me explain the simple work flow we came up with for making stunning smooth videos:

Step 1: Record a manual flight

While recording the flight with the mission planner we manually fly in sequence to the best scenic shot locations for the video. At each location we know exactly what shall be in the shot. Since we are not in a rush, we adjust at each location altitude, gimbal and yaw exactly as we want using the image of the live view. Once we are happy we trigger a photo shot so that the Drone Harmony Mission Planner knows that now everything is optimally set for this location.

dh_flightplanner_choosePlanType_record_flight
The bottom right of the six flight plan types allows you to record a manual flight, which includes recording of yaw and gimbal angles.

Step 2: Smoothing the recorded flight plan

Smoothing the recorded flight plan from Step 1 is just a matter of running the said feature in the mission planner on the recorded flight plan. Conveniently the algorithm computes a smooth flight plan path through all recorded locations. In addition it also computes gimbal and yaw angles along that smooth path in such a way, that sudden changes in gimbal or yaw is now a story for the past. Here are two screenshots showing the result of path smoothing for a simple recorded flight:

The following tutorial video shows you the whole process at a stunning location near Lucerne, Switzerland:

Below some more footage from one of our recent test flights for the new video smoothing feature in Drone Harmonys Mission Planner.

One thought

  1. Yes, I know that feeling (yaw / tilt ruining some beautiful footage) and this solution is very nice.

    My current way of ‘recording’ a mission is by opening a SRT or Log file and hunt good waypoints to plot on my next mission (Litchi).

    Maybe you guys could also come with some help for semi-manual flight. It seems obvious the math part would be easy for you.

    Many times I prefer to have manual freedom and speed (no time to plan ahead, not to mention spare battery for a planing flight).

    What I have in mind for some time is simply coordinated action among control sticks and gimbal (some equation saying that for X lateral speed, yaw should turn Y degrees / second, same for tilt as I go Up / Down).

    Some graphical UI allows me to change the ratio on spot (probably not the equation, just the movement to be more ‘tight’ or ‘loose’).

    That would be a way for smooth shots with no planning and no image tracking like DJI (which tends to loose the subject).

    Like

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