Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head….No better time than today to get my Cinematic Pilot Badge on the DroneUp platform, is what I told myself. I spent the weekend learning Premier to edit a bunch of footage that I’ve been collecting during my practice flights. One thing I definitely learned is I need to better plan my flights where I am going to capture footage for the purpose of editing it into an interesting video. Definitely something I have not done as of yet and it was made clear to me while trying to find usable clips to just piece together a clip of scenes that were pleasant to look at. A story, a progression through the scenes to a payoff, something more. At any rate, I also realized that I had already been capturing a number a really great shots utilizing the cinematic maneuvers that are required for this badge and really are used a lot in the cinematic videos that feature exclusively drone footage.
So, got everything charged up and cards formatted, went through my checklist for the weather and gear, and headed outside to get this done. In my head, I wanted to make one of the shots really more exciting and different than I ended up doing, but I also wanted to make some progress and knew I could utilize the additional flight time in the coming week of so to go out and capture more of what I wanted for other uses.
The Cinematic Pilot Badge requires four types of shots:
- Orbit or 360
- Tracking a subject
- 4-axis controlled maneuver while tracking a subject.
The first maneuver is an orbit or 360 around a subject. I’ve actually been getting pretty good at these manually, but both of my drones have this capability in their Quickshot modes. Basically, focus the camera on the subject (me in this case), lock it in, set your flight altitude and speed, and click go. As long as you have your desired focus on the subject and vertical and horizontal distances right, this shot turns out pretty good.
The second, the dronie, also creates a great effect as you reverse and rise away from a tight focus on a subject to a wide view of the surrounding area, which creates a dynamic perspective. This is a good real estate shot as you pull away from a close up of the front door of a home and rise up to show the surrounding neighborhood or even further out to show maybe its wider location and surrounding streets, parks, and shopping areas.
Tracking a subject is a little more difficult to do, even with some automated assistance from the drone program. You definitely need to take a hard look at your surroundings to ensure any obstacles will be safely cleared. I did test out the active track feature on the Mavic 2 Pro for this since I wanted to make sure trees and powerlines would be detected and avoided, but that the footage would not be too jerky or jarring. I was pleasantly surprised at its effectiveness and relatively smooth avoidance of these types of obstacles as I walked around my property and down a road a bit. It will looks focus on a subject in the case of a sudden change of direction though, at least at the height and distance I set it to follow.
The 4-axis maneuver while tracking a subject is a little trickier, especially with so many trees and obstacles in the area. I also wanted to do this as manually as possible to test out my skills. Basically, the maneuver I did was reverse pitch + climb + yaw + and roll while keeping the camera as focused on myself as the subject as possible, which also requires a little gimbal tilting. This turned out pretty good, though it would have been easier in an open field or over water tracking a boat.
Overall, not a bad set of maneuvers captured with good exposure, smooth movements, and was able to get it done in a pretty short amount of time. I took the shots into Premier and put together a short video collection of them to submit to DroneUp for my badge request. A short time later, an agent replied and granted me the badge as well as letting me know that I chose a really lovely location to shoot for this badge! I absolutely agree.