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Blew my 2nd high pay film job! Please chime in.

Just wondering if Autopilot would work? If I know the shot a wee bit in advance I can set it up with Autopilot. You can program the flight and/or the camera gimbal, so you can have the focus of your camera change mid shot from an actor to another subject.
Another interesting idea. I have not used autopilot. I have been reluctant to go outside of the go app. Litchi, etc. sounds like your happy with Autopilot? I think the thing for me is that I am operating within a 10 ft accuracy so most waypoints can be a little more slushy
 
Yes, I’m happy with autopilot. There is almost nothing you can’t do with it, as long as you get time to clarify what shot is required. The great thing is it can be all set up before the drone is turned on, and ‘played’ to see if it does what you want. If after the shot you are not happy with one aspect, just change that parameter, and retake. The other thing that is good about it, is that you can concentrate on flying the drone, while letting Autopilot look after the shot. It does have its limitations though, and that is mainly the learning curve required for the software.
 
I must apologise for my tone in my last post.

When I was reading your post I was thinking "second highest paying job and a top film director why isn't this guy taking a cameraman with you." Something didn't make sense hence my reaction. Admittedly I could have worded it significantly better than I did which I have already apologised for. If this was a known issue to you a film student would have been no more than $100.
 
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I think the thing for me is that I am operating within a 10 ft accuracy so most waypoints can be a little more slushy
I've been on the other side of the controls for a couple of decades (feature DP), so I know the budget and schedule pressures you were under. Over the years, I've fired several drone pilots because they couldn't get the shots I needed in the time we had allocated and they started to cannibalize my day's schedule. It wasn't until 2.5 years ago when a kid showed up (foisted upon me due to budget constraints by the producer) and flew the crap out of an I1 nailing every shot in 1 take, that my eyes were opened to the possibility.

For the type of shot of shot you were trying to get (talent follow) pre-programmed waypoint style apps won't work at all. Following a person is super tricky because they never walk the same speed and you have to constantly adjust to their pace changes...to say nothing about the variable ramp-up as they start walking, or hitting a perfect mark to start the shot.

A more seasoned/kitted-out(?) pilot would probably have pulled out their Alta/Movi rig, but again...no budget for it. If I were in your shoes, there are two things I would have done:
1. Be up-front with the DP, and Director about the gimbal drift issue (endemic to all DJI I2s) before you even started shooting. Explain that you are highly skilled at compensating for it, but there are a couple of shot styles that need a second operator. Explain that if those types of shots are important, and they have sufficient budget you can either rent a freefly Alta/Movi combo, or you can bring a camera op out to run the gimbal while you fly.

2. If having that conversation didn't feel possible (I get that this is a uber-competitive market) an you want to just say "hell yes, I can get that shot" to whatever they ask. Then I would definitely absorb the cost of bringing an operator with me. Its far better to lose a little rate and over-deliver, than to hold onto all the well earned cash and under-perform (given that you know this problem exists).

As a DP, I can state that I would much rather have an informed conversation on what can/cannot be successfully shot with a given bit of gear, than be surprised in the heat of. In fact I really appreciate it. And even though there is competition for the job, every drone pilot flying an I2 will struggle with the same limitations, so I don't ding you for bringing those limitations to my attention. There are always many ways to capture a shot/emotion, so knowing those limitations up front, I would design shots to play to the equipment's strengths. However, if the drone operator knew about the gimbal drift issue, but opted not to let us know about that in advance, and we wasted valuable time setting up for a shot that was at high risk of not being doable...that is indeed not good.

Producers also know that you are flying an I2/X5S, and that puts you in a narrative entry-level bracket (budget-wise). They know there are pilots that can show up with two operators and a couple of Alta-8s with Movi Pro gimbals and nail the shots, but they don't have the budget for that. So you just need to over communicate what you can and cannot do. And what adding a camera operator brings to the table.
 
My camera op runs the show. I am his pilot. I just do what he directs. I'd be lost on a high end shoot without him. I don't go anywhere without him. He is our sales man and our "single point of contact", so fortunately I've never had to attempt these high dollar shoots alone. Just another perspective of the primacy of having a camera op.
 
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A cam op would have easily worked around it manually.
The drift is merely a nuisance when you are two people. Sorry dude.
 
I too am the camera operator, the director of photography, producer and the editor for my company. I tell the pilot exactly what shots to get because I have got the end product in mind which the pilot might not be aware of even though we are best mates.

By the sounds of it you were aware of this problem prior to taking this job. It is easy to blame the hardware but you had options to resolve this prior to the start of the job.

While you might be a solo operator under normal circumstances, how often do you get a job like this where you have to impress and if you don't deliver your reputation might take a hit?

In fact two weeks ago my mate went on a job on his own and messed up the camera settings! when I got the footage into the editing suite I had a right go at him for messing up!

I am also not one for holding my opinions back!
 
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I must apologise for my tone in my last post.

When I was reading your post I was thinking "second highest paying job and a top film director why isn't this guy taking a cameraman with you." Something didn't make sense hence my reaction. Admittedly I could have worded it significantly better than I did which I have already apologised for. If this was a known issue to you a film student would have been no more than $100.
No worries stereoscopic, I too am very impatient with the winners and wannabes in these formums and I too have vented prematurely. Also I regret my “ I’m going to sue everybody” ******** for my personal defect.

Thank you for your post
 
I've been on the other side of the controls for a couple of decades (feature DP), so I know the budget and schedule pressures you were under. Over the years, I've fired several drone pilots because they couldn't get the shots I needed in the time we had allocated and they started to cannibalize my day's schedule. It wasn't until 2.5 years ago when a kid showed up (foisted upon me due to budget constraints by the producer) and flew the crap out of an I1 nailing every shot in 1 take, that my eyes were opened to the possibility.

For the type of shot of shot you were trying to get (talent follow) pre-programmed waypoint style apps won't work at all. Following a person is super tricky because they never walk the same speed and you have to constantly adjust to their pace changes...to say nothing about the variable ramp-up as they start walking, or hitting a perfect mark to start the shot.

A more seasoned/kitted-out(?) pilot would probably have pulled out their Alta/Movi rig, but again...no budget for it. If I were in your shoes, there are two things I would have done:
1. Be up-front with the DP, and Director about the gimbal drift issue (endemic to all DJI I2s) before you even started shooting. Explain that you are highly skilled at compensating for it, but there are a couple of shot styles that need a second operator. Explain that if those types of shots are important, and they have sufficient budget you can either rent a freefly Alta/Movi combo, or you can bring a camera op out to run the gimbal while you fly.

2. If having that conversation didn't feel possible (I get that this is a uber-competitive market) an you want to just say "hell yes, I can get that shot" to whatever they ask. Then I would definitely absorb the cost of bringing an operator with me. Its far better to lose a little rate and over-deliver, than to hold onto all the well earned cash and under-perform (given that you know this problem exists).

As a DP, I can state that I would much rather have an informed conversation on what can/cannot be successfully shot with a given bit of gear, than be surprised in the heat of. In fact I really appreciate it. And even though there is competition for the job, every drone pilot flying an I2 will struggle with the same limitations, so I don't ding you for bringing those limitations to my attention. There are always many ways to capture a shot/emotion, so knowing those limitations up front, I would design shots to play to the equipment's strengths. However, if the drone operator knew about the gimbal drift issue, but opted not to let us know about that in advance, and we wasted valuable time setting up for a shot that was at high risk of not being doable...that is indeed not good.

Producers also know that you are flying an I2/X5S, and that puts you in a narrative entry-level bracket (budget-wise). They know there are pilots that can show up with two operators and a couple of Alta-8s with Movi Pro gimbals and nail the shots, but they don't have the budget for that. So you just need to over communicate what you can and cannot do. And what adding a camera operator brings to the table.
Sage advise indeed and your willingness to expend the significant time you did to write this is very much appreciated. Ya know I think since I have followed many, cars, boats and horses, etc. Hell I even had to chase a prominent actress through the forest all as a single operator, I think I simply underestimated the challenge of the shot. So shame on me. As has been suggested by others including Stratospheric, next time I will bring a second operator. Sigh...
 
I too am the camera operator, the director of photography, producer and the editor for my company. I tell the pilot exactly what shots to get because I have got the end product in mind which the pilot might not be aware of even though we are best mates.

By the sounds of it you were aware of this problem prior to taking this job. It is easy to blame the hardware but you had options to resolve this prior to the start of the job.

While you might be a solo operator under normal circumstances, how often do you get a job like this where you have to impress and if you don't deliver your reputation might take a hit?

In fact two weeks ago my mate went on a job on his own and messed up the camera settings! when I got the footage into the editing suite I had a right go at him for messing up!

I am also not one for holding my opinions back!
I also don't like being wrong, which in hindsight I was. Perhaps your first post was not as offbase as I would have liked.:(

Oh well, lessons learned hard are rarely repeated. Now all I have to do is find a talented Aerial Camera Op in podunk Albany New York ;)
 
My x5s used to be great but was terrible for the last few months of use, horizon drift was a massive problem, funny how it was around the same time the x7 was released.... the x7 is solid in terms of drift (well mine anyway) ... coincidence?
 
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Shouldn’t you have tested its limitations before accepting the job ?
By the sounds of it, the shot he was asked to do was not planned but sprung on him there and then, gee what Director does that??? How unusual so unless he had a chrystal ball how would uou test its “limitations”?
 
By the sounds of it, the shot he was asked to do was not planned but sprung on him there and then, gee what Director does that??? How unusual so unless he had a chrystal ball how would uou test its “limitations”?
Thank you DavidK. Although I must take ultimate responsibility for going into battle with a known issue, you are in fact right. It was the last shot of the day and not on the morning shot list. Again, not making excuses, but if I had known about that shot I certainly would have clanged the bell early enough in the day that perhaps it would not have turned into such a megilla.
 
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Yawing gimbal may indicate some degree of "balance issue" with the camera...

If a camera is out of balance an active gimbal will tend to precess, in some cases.. (of course it may be a software issue..)

For High end Pro Use, maybe a high end unit is the answer. (with gimbal operator).....
Sympathy for anyone who continues to have these issues.
 
Look. Bottom line is the shot is the shot and frowned on or not if I had done that (assuming that it would have worked) believe me I would have done it gladly. The question is in follow mode does that lock the gimbal in a way the keeps it from drifting? Again I will try it for myself, just wondering about your experience. Cause I hear to tell you if that’s a solid workaround you bet that’s how I will be proceeding until DJI gets off its butt to fix the issue. This certainly won’t help for the instances where the DP wants to fly, but like I said earlier that is only occasionally.
I have done time lapses with the I2 just standing in place (not flying) in follow mode and free mode. The gimbal will drift in both modes. This is not consistent but it will happen. This appears to be some feedback or noise signal in the electronics that gets amplified enough to cause the yaw control to move the camera. If you tap or nudge the c1 button and dial it will stop. I do not know if this can be fixed in software as it appears to be a signal that is not be filtered out by the electronics. This is why I recommended the tape as a solution. When the gimbal controls are active it is very steay, its only when it is required to just stay still that sometimes (not consistent) that this drift will kick in.
 
I have done time lapses with the I2 just standing in place (not flying) in follow mode and free mode. The gimbal will drift in both modes. This is not consistent but it will happen. This appears to be some feedback or noise signal in the electronics that gets amplified enough to cause the yaw control to move the camera. If you tap or nudge the c1 button and dial it will stop. I do not know if this can be fixed in software as it appears to be a signal that is not be filtered out by the electronics. This is why I recommended the tape as a solution. When the gimbal controls are active it is very steay, its only when it is required to just stay still that sometimes (not consistent) that this drift will kick in.


New firmware appears to have fixed my drift issues after two quick flights, so far so good.

New Inspire 2 firmware (April 18, 2018)
 
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Well, it's in the release notes! 3rd bullet down.
  • Optimized an issue where the gimbal pan slowly drifts while the aircraft is hovering in Follow mode (requires Zenmuse X4S/X5S/X7 firmware update).
 

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