This past winter I bought a drone (Mavic Pro) so I could update the aerial images we have on our MLS real estate website back in Mexico. On our return to Europe I brought the drone with me as I really wanted to film one of my favorite bike rides and take advantage of the “tracking” the drone can do. By that I mean you can launch the drone, select a target on the screen, (in this case, me on a bike), and it will follow you.
It can get complicated as I ended up being the producer, director, camera man and actor in this short film. After many takes, many false attempts, many days where filming was called off because of bad weather, I finally managed to shoot all the shots I wanted and then spent some time putting it all together in iMovie. Not the greatest program for working with film, but then I’m not the greatest film producer either. It does enough to get the job done and not get me in trouble.
There are so many great bike rides around Nice. Some I enjoy on my road bike, but this particular trip involves both on and off-road, so my Moustache Dimanche electric-assist was definitely the best call.
I few people have asked how I used the drone to make this video.
Except for the first and last shots, (someone else did those for me. The drone could’ve done it but I refrain from flying it in the city), otherwise every other shot was done by the drone. For some shots, I put the drone in the air, set it at an angle of view that I like, start filming, then put the remote down and get on my bike and drive through the scene. I then return, stop filming, bring the drone back and move on to the next shoot.
When the drone follows me, this is called “active tracking”. To set this up I “show” the drone where I am on my iPhone by circling myself so it identifies me as the “target” to track. And then it does just that. There are different modes to tracking:
- It follows behind me
- It follows beside me
- It follows me but makes circles around me as I move
- The drone stays still but follows me wherever I go
It can get complicated and time consuming as I have to launch the drone, target myself, ride the bike, etc. Sometimes it loses me, for instance if a tree of object comes between us. As I ride I’ve learned to listen for the whirl of the blades to know if it is following me or not.
The results, the programming DJI have done for the drone for tracking, is very fluid and smooth. It would be hard for a person to follow me that well, without jerking.
I made multiple trips up the mountain to film this. It takes over an hour to get there and the first two times I arrived just as clouds rolled in and I couldn’t film. When I could film I’d make 6-8 shots, but usually only one or two would be usable. Also, with each day of filming I got better. So at the end I was having more success getting good shots and the ones I wanted.
My next video will be paddle boarding in the Algarve of Portugal. Little more difficult as I’m on water and have to land and take off from my paddle board. Have to launch and catch from my hand. Tricky…