After taking your drone out a few times and shooting some pictures and video free-form you may be looking for more things to do. You can work with the different modes offered in the DJI GO application which expand on the free-form experience with some automation, or just jump to the end and start working with Way Point missions.
Way Point missions is where everything is automated and you just watch your drone carry out a plan. You are there to intervene if necessary. If everything goes well you just watch as your drone flies and shoots the pictures or video.
The quickest way to experience a complex Way Point mission is to download the free DroneDeploy application and create a mission. It only takes seconds and the mission is very complex, taking dozens of overlapping pictures while flying a grid over the area you designated. NOTE: Keep it small as there are limits as to what you can do with the free tier.
It is very efficient and fascinating to watch. You see the progress on the screen as the drone runs the path snapping pictures. You are always aware of what the drone is doing and going to do. Your job becomes situational awareness; watching for air traffic, people traffic, and the unexpected. As long as the drone is staying on mission and there are no hazards you just watch.
The entire process only takes a few minutes. You can then upload the images from the SD card to create 2D-Mapping, 3D-Model and other data views including elevation.
DroneDeploy addresses a specific type of mission and their free offering allows you to experience it for yourself. It is the most exciting product for drones I have experienced and I highly recommend giving it a try.
Completely free movement of the camera with the inclusion of altitude is a new tool for cinematographers to master. Luckily you don’t have to spend years mastering piloting because Way Point missions turn that part over to the computers.
The autopilot uses GPS and other sensors to help keep the flight on track. You can specify a Point of Interest (POI) or Subject which will be kept centered in the picture create a path with Way Points wherever any change needs to occur, like selecting a different POI for the center of focus or changes in speed, direction, or altitude. Suddenly everything is is all in the planning!
For planning a cinematic flight FlyLitchi.com offers an excellent online planner that puts them in a league of their own. Take the time to plan a mission with their planner. Then plan the same mission with any other software. If you are like me you will be amazed at the difference in level of effort. The Litchi web planner is excellent and easy to master.
You don’t pay for Litchi unless you want to fly a FlyLitchi plan. That is an incredibly effective way to market their product. Use the most awesome planner on the market for free but if you want to fly a mission you have to purchase the application. Once you purchase the Litchi application you will find it has an excellent planner that is fully integrated with the Web planner. It is easy to create or modify plans in the field.
It is different to just tap the screen a couple of times and just watch as your bird flies off on its own. Once you see it is on mission you can focus on watching for hazards and monitor the progress with an occasional manual tweaks to the video levels. Typically you should should experience a flight that is very efficient and is flown more accurate than any operator could fly it. As the Pilot in Command you must always be ready to take control in case anything unexpected happens. Letting computers fly and operate the camera makes that job a lot easier.
I believe DroneDeploy.com and FlyLitchi.com are ‘must have’ applications/services for a drone owner. DroneDeploy is great to capture a model of your neighborhood or favorite park. Merge them into your online views to see your favorite areas like you have never seen them before.
As a kid I my family spent a lot of time at a campground in Island Park, Idaho. My brother now owns a cabin near that campground so I plan to take a trip there with my Mavic. I’ll use DroneDeploy to create a clear 2D model of the river I spent so much time fishing on in my youth. I’m curious how the 3D model will turn out too.
I also have a very complex Litchi flight plan for Shoshone Falls, Idaho that I hope to fly while I’m visiting. The plan is to fly the mission and then post the video along with the mission plan. That way others can reproducible the flight over the next several years and provide links to their publications or ask FloatingCam to host it. This will create a collection of videos that following the same flight plan so theoretically they can be used to create a time-lapse video. This is a long term plan that relies on crowd-sourcing. I hope I’ve offered some direction in finding interesting things to do with your drone.