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Best workflow for producing optimum footage, both in the sky and in post?

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Mar 28, 2017
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Pretty much my first real post on this forum: I fly the I2 with x5s, SSD, and the ProRes licence and am trying to find the optimum steps to go through to get the best quality video. I know it would be slightly different if I was shooting RAW, but details for that could perhaps be added to another post)

Brief background: I have flown drones and produced aerial videos for many years, coming from a build your own background - GoPro on a 2 axes gimbal TBSDiscovery Pro, to recently the Mavic Pro and very quickly have decided I want to go all out on the quality hence now also the I2 setup with about 30 flights under my belt - the quality of the machine is outstanding..... Also, I am very happy to extensively work on the footage after the shoot to get the most from it (otherwise just stick with the Mavic Pro no?, though that also requires work) - I work in FCPX mainly. I typically shoot landscapes, jungles, beaches, ruins, similar points of interest etc. Not much close up work. I like to shoot during golden hour, sunrise / sunset most of the time for obvious reasons

I expect the workflow should be something like the below, I could be way off base with this, but wanted to get your views, and make sure I am getting there in the most efficient way:

Pre-launch (some of which can also be done in the air):
  1. Set ready to record in ProRes at desired resolution (making sure there is capacity on the SSD and SD cards! - ideally format before each flying day)
  2. Target shutter speed should be about 1/60 assuming a 29fps ProRes setting - this is a priority in camera settings
  3. ISO 100 also the target if possible
  4. Adjust F-stop to get optimum focus (what should this be on the stock 15mm DJI lens?) F8? - though this will of course change in the air depending on shot path / lighting conditions.
  5. Look at resulting exposure level on the camera settings screen on the app - target here should be zero or say 1.3 (?)
  6. Attach ND filter - adjust ND filter choice and Fstop settings to obtain optimum exposure setting
  7. Set format - D-Log, etc - what should this be?
In the air:
  1. Overall aim here I think should be to get a shot (e.g. say 20 sec of footage) where the lighting conditions remain largely the same. This is as it is difficult to complete post production effectively where the lighting keeps changing significantly all over the clip. (Obviously there will be exceptions to this, such as orbit and chasing shots). Hence this can be controlled via flight path (approximately straight lines), and also by using manual so that the camera isn't always changing say aperture as the movement changes. So, with this in mind:
  2. Fly to beginning of your flight path for your shot,
  3. tap screen to obtain focus
  4. In Aperture mode, adjust the f-stop to get the optimum exposure using the camera settings control screen (0, 1.3 whatever is considered best), change to manual preserving the settings. I have also seen people suggesting that the RGB scope is used instead of the simple exposure value and Fstop is adjusted to avoid clipping in the highlights (the white horizontal line at the top of the chart)
  5. Fly and record - repeat steps 2 - 4 for each shot
Post production:
  1. Off load the SSD
  2. In FCPX or whatever load all of the 4GB files in to a new project , timeline
  3. Select the chaff and delete
  4. Select the beginning and ends of whole shots you may use and combine together to make compound clips
  5. Denoise first (just exploring neat video plugin for this)
  6. I use colour finale (probably until chromatic comes out): apply an appropriate LUT - is there a goto LUT people use here? I expect the answer is it depends
  7. Adjust exposure in the highs and lows to get maximum dynamic range
  8. Adjust colour / saturation to desired look
  9. I then further tweak by using FCPX's native colour control particularly applying colour masks to things like clouds etc to fine tune - likely I do this as am not skilled enough yet with colour finale, still it is quick and easy
  10. Sharpen
Sure there is lots missing / wrong - haven'y fully implemented the above yet consistently, but starting to get the workflow down and am keen for my better's opinions on this.
 
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As an aside - have just applied Neat Video's noise reduction plugin to some low light, mist through trees kind of shots and it is nothing short of staggering the impact it has had on the footage.
 
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I would use the noise reduction in the last step. It is such a processor intensive step that it bogs down the playback to edit imho.
 
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Yeah - fair point. It does take fore-ever - sooooo worth it though. I love the way you can apply the noise reduction to a mask only - so for me recently, it was just picking out the mist over trees.

Would still really appreciate feedback from anyone else if the rest of my steps are making sense.
 
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Pretty much my first real post on this forum: I fly the I2 with x5s, SSD, and the ProRes licence and am trying to find the optimum steps to go through to get the best quality video. I know it would be slightly different if I was shooting RAW, but details for that could perhaps be added to another post)

Brief background: I have flown drones and produced aerial videos for many years, coming from a build your own background - GoPro on a 2 axes gimbal TBSDiscovery Pro, to recently the Mavic Pro and very quickly have decided I want to go all out on the quality hence now also the I2 setup with about 30 flights under my belt - the quality of the machine is outstanding..... Also, I am very happy to extensively work on the footage after the shoot to get the most from it (otherwise just stick with the Mavic Pro no?, though that also requires work) - I work in FCPX mainly. I typically shoot landscapes, jungles, beaches, ruins, similar points of interest etc. Not much close up work. I like to shoot during golden hour, sunrise / sunset most of the time for obvious reasons

I expect the workflow should be something like the below, I could be way off base with this, but wanted to get your views, and make sure I am getting there in the most efficient way:

Pre-launch (some of which can also be done in the air):
  1. Set ready to record in ProRes at desired resolution (making sure there is capacity on the SSD and SD cards! - ideally format before each flying day)
  2. Target shutter speed should be about 1/60 assuming a 29fps ProRes setting - this is a priority in camera settings
  3. ISO 100 also the target if possible
  4. Adjust F-stop to get optimum focus (what should this be on the stock 15mm DJI lens?) F8? - though this will of course change in the air depending on shot path / lighting conditions.
  5. Look at resulting exposure level on the camera settings screen on the app - target here should be zero or say 1.3 (?)
  6. Attach ND filter - adjust ND filter choice and Fstop settings to obtain optimum exposure setting
  7. Set format - D-Log, etc - what should this be?
In the air:
  1. Overall aim here I think should be to get a shot (e.g. say 20 sec of footage) where the lighting conditions remain largely the same. This is as it is difficult to complete post production effectively where the lighting keeps changing significantly all over the clip. (Obviously there will be exceptions to this, such as orbit and chasing shots). Hence this can be controlled via flight path (approximately straight lines), and also by using manual so that the camera isn't always changing say aperture as the movement changes. So, with this in mind:
  2. Fly to beginning of your flight path for your shot,
  3. tap screen to obtain focus
  4. In Aperture mode, adjust the f-stop to get the optimum exposure using the camera settings control screen (0, 1.3 whatever is considered best), change to manual preserving the settings. I have also seen people suggesting that the RGB scope is used instead of the simple exposure value and Fstop is adjusted to avoid clipping in the highlights (the white horizontal line at the top of the chart)
  5. Fly and record - repeat steps 2 - 4 for each shot
Post production:
  1. Off load the SSD
  2. In FCPX or whatever load all of the 4GB files in to a new project , timeline
  3. Select the chaff and delete
  4. Select the beginning and ends of whole shots you may use and combine together to make compound clips
  5. Denoise first (just exploring neat video plugin for this)
  6. I use colour finale (probably until chromatic comes out): apply an appropriate LUT - is there a goto LUT people use here? I expect the answer is it depends
  7. Adjust exposure in the highs and lows to get maximum dynamic range
  8. Adjust colour / saturation to desired look
  9. I then further tweak by using FCPX's native colour control particularly applying colour masks to things like clouds etc to fine tune - likely I do this as am not skilled enough yet with colour finale, still it is quick and easy
  10. Sharpen
Sure there is lots missing / wrong - haven'y fully implemented the above yet consistently, but starting to get the workflow down and am keen for my better's opinions on this.

There is the possibility of using log, which I'm addicted to on my architecture stuff. It's harder to grade but gives you much more dynamic range. What the DJI log, in fact, is remains a bit of a mystery, as are a lot of their specs.

And although I am an outlier here, I am shooting with much higher shutter speeds. It's logical to assume that while these drones are remarkably stable they have vibrations that make shooting with low shutter speeds counterintuitive. When you think what photographers go through to stabilize their rigs it makes more sense to use high shutter speeds. Double frame rate shutter speeds seems to be a myth that started in the dawn of digital shooting and is supposed to make video look more film-ic. But since film is gone, all I see is people wanting the sharpest possible image, which would lead to faster shutter speeds. IMHO. I'm doing tests on both log and fast shutter speeds now.
 
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In your workflow you try to set your iso to 100.
In my I2 premium combo X5s With cinemadng and prores DJI sets Iso to 500. No changes possible. Clever because it secures lowest noise. High lighting should be managed through HD filters. You could ck of 500 gives better noise ratio.
 
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With cinemadng and prores DJI sets Iso to 500. No changes possible. Clever because it secures lowest noise. High lighting should be managed through HD filters. You could ck of 500 gives better noise ratio.

The ISO500 lock isn't about lowest noise, it is aiming to give you the best balance between dynamic range and noise, so it accepts a little more noise in the shadows to give you more range overall.
 
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