Video Logging – Equipment
Video is a cornerstone of the UAS services so moving past simple web pages to a Vlog series is part of the business plan. I envision selfie videos where I will talk about the flight while walking to a launch site. After I get to the launch site I want a video of the pre-flight procedures, actual flight, and flight closing steps.
At a minimum I need a steady-cam selfie stick and tripod. However what is really needed is a cameraman. Staying in the view of a fixed shot on a tripod requires zooming out and losing detail.
DJI Osmo Mobile
The Osmo Mobile caught my interest because it has ‘Active Tracking’, which means I can select myself as the subject and the camera will follow me around. That addresses my need for a cameraman in the field as well as a steady-cam selfie stick!
That is a dramatic improvement over a static mount but the Osmo has a lot of other uses as well. During the flight I can record time-lapse to make for interesting transitions where I can talk about the flight and what is happening.
Since it seemed to fit my needs I went ahead and purchased an Osmo Mobile. Overall my first experience with it was very enjoyable. It started with me being frustrated. Everything seemed to float around so keeping something centered wasn’t automatic. The good new is that when I started moving around and observing how it worked it didn’t take long get the hang of it.
There are definitely techniques you need to discover. I found twisting the handle in advance of turning a corner broadcast the intent and makes the camera moves with you instead of slightly behind you. Within an hour I was moving around and getting very smooth motions even when I changed the camera’s position dramatically and put myself in awkward poses.
Working with the DJI Go application I found the Active Tracking worked as I expected. The only issue I have is that it cannot zoom. That said it did a good job of keeping me as the center of focus which is all I hoped for.
Next, the panoramic picture feature quite impressive. I really like the 9-shot panoramic. There is also the time-lapse photography which slowly pans creating a very interesting effect. I never realized how those videos were created, simply amazing.
I quickly create a video with an appropriate sound track and posted it on Facebook all from within the DJI Go app. The editor was simple and very limited but it was easy enough to work so I give it a thumbs up.
For $9.99 FiLmIC Pro moves the controls of the camera onto the Osmo handle and allows you to create videos and export them to the camera roll (something DJI Go doesn’t do well). It doesn’t have all the feature the GO app offers instead it concentrates on camera controls and editing. It appears to me that both apps have their place.
With the mobile camera gimbal in hand I continued to think about what I might need. Since I will be doing studio discussions I looked into standard vlogging studio equipment. There is an attitude towards using a phone camera for a studio camera but everyone agrees the cameras in high end phones are quite good.
The only significant issue I read about related to using a phone for the studio camera was the audio quality.
There are direct connect and wireless external microphones available for phones. The wireless units are more expensive, less reliable (including pops and noises in the signal), and not as compatible as directly connected microphones. While an obvious choice in review they are not necessarily the first choice.
Directly connected microphones are somewhat limited in that you don’t want a wire hanging from the steady-cam assembly since it moves around and is balanced. That leaves a shot-gun microphone attached to the gimbals so it is always pointing in the direction of the camera’s view.
I found several shotgun microphones that plug directly into the phone but they were too long to use with the Osmo Mobile. The COMICA CVM-VS08 Professional Cardioid Directional Condenser Shotgun Video Microphone however has a plug in it’s center so it protrudes less than 2″ and should work. It also mounts forward and backwards making it great for selfies.
Summary – VLog on
It appears the DJI Osmo Mobile is a great device if you are looking to start or enhance any kind of video cast or vlog. There are other phone holding gimbals on the market that cost less and look very good, but as far as I can tell DJI is the only one that has ‘Active Tracking’.
There is also a third party application, FiLMiC Pro, that works well with the Osmo and I expect there will be more since DJI offers an SDK for development. It is nice to know you can write something if it is really needed.
The price for the DJI Mobile is about double that of similar looking gimbals on the market. Is it worth the investment? From my initial review I believe the answer is a resounding ‘yes’, but the proof is in how it works in production. I’ll keep this post updated.