Over here at 1iOpen Productions we were discussing the production of an aerial motion timelapse with a helicopter and Shotover camera set up. In the meantime, I was wondering how to do that with a less expensive system for a few projects that had a lower production level, with our Mavic Air.
Next step, I went online to see if anyone was doing this and how. I found several people conducting aerial timelapses but without motion, others were conducting normal flights but creating a timelapse in post by pulling out frames, and some producing aerial timelapses but flying by hand so they were wobbly and jumpy. I couldn’t find a quick tutorial on how to do this, so I thought I’d figure it out on my own and create a tutorial.
I took all of the information I could find on timelapses with the Mavic Air and thought I would try and combine it with creating a steady linear flight with the Mavic Air.
This is what I developed. It’s easy and the result, with a little warp stabilizer, is excellent.
STEPS TO PRODUCE A MOTION TIMELAPSE WITH THE DJI MAVIC AIR
*Note: In this tutorial I assume you know how to operate your DJI Mavic Air, so I’m not going to get into how to operate the Mavic Air.
With the Mavic air ready to fly…
Make sure you have a full battery. Your timelapse will only be as long as your battery will last, with enough reserve to return home.
I suggest placing an ND FILTER if you are going to time lapse sunsets or sunrises. These are basically sunglasses for your drone camera.
Toggle the camera from video mode to PHOTO MODE and make sure the camera is in AUTO MODE.
Go into CAMERA MODE to access the settings to setup the camera for time lapse.
Go into PHOTO MODE through the camera icon.
Through TIMED SHOT go to the shot delay and select what is best for what you want to do. The faster you’re drone is moving or the faster your subject is moving, such as clouds, then set the delay longer. For what we were doing, slow movement, we selected 3s (3 seconds).
Depending on what you are trying to accomplish adjust your camera settings. We went with 16:9 since we are using our time lapse in a 1920x1080 video, JPG format, AWB (auto white balance), a custom color profile, and normal color.
Once you have set the time lapse power up your Mavic Air and get it positioned in the sky where you want to start the first frame of your time lapse.
Tap the REMOTE CONTROL icon on the left of the screen.
Then select the TAP FLY icon. This will automatically enable the direction mode and default to FORWARD.
Tap on the screen the point on the horizon where you want the Mavic Air to fly to. If you tap high or low on the horizon your drone will fly forward and ascend, descend or stay at the same altitude depending on where you tap.
Once you tap the screen it will indicate where you tapped by flashing a green GO icon. This preps the forward movement, but doesn't initiate flight yet.
Adjust the speed slider to the desired speed. For 3 second intervals, we set the Mavic Air to its slowest speed. 3.6km/h.
Now you are going to start the forward movement. TAP GO on the screen and the icon will change, indicating you are now moving forward on your tapped fly path.
Tap on the record button on the right of the screen to initiate the time lapse.
The shot indicator countdown will show up on the screen and make a sound indication each time it takes a photo.
Place your controller so there is direct line of sight and let your drone fly until you are down to 30-20% battery. It will be enough to get a nice time lapse of 7-10 seconds in your video.
When your battery is at its limit cancel your timelapse by tapping the record button and initiate your return to home sequence.
At this point I am assuming you either know how to bring in your images to create a time lapse in your editing software or you have Premiere Pro CC, in which I will describe how to do that here.
You have now shot a series of JPGs on on your memory card and need to create the timelapse. Open your video project in Premiere Pro CC.
Go to your memory card to begin to import your sequences of JPGs. Make sure your files are in an UNINTERRUPTED sequence.
Select ONLY the FIRST IMAGE in the sequence.
Then select the IMAGE SEQUENCE box at the lower edge of the window you are operating in. This is IMPORTANT! Make sure it’s checked.
Premier will bring in the entire sequence of images and convert them into a video file, which you will find in your PPCC media manager.
Drag the new time lapse video clip into your sequence and treat it as any other video clip in your project.
Thanks for reading and watching . We hope you create some great time lapses. Go to the video associated with this blog and share your time lapses with us in the comments.
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