Skip to main content
Learn How to Start a T-Shirt Business using RedBubble, Society6 and TeePublic - Click Here
Affiliate link - Thank you for helping to keep this site free.

Being Chased by a DJI Spark Drone - Not just for Aerial Landscape B-Roll

Longboard and DJI Spark Drone
DJI Spark Drone.
When you think of drones (the little quadcopter with a camera type rather than the more dangerous airstrike type) you tend to think of big cinematic landscape video often used as B-Roll by many Youtube channels.

As great as that is I've been keeping my eye on the object tracking and autonomous flying capabilities of smaller consumer drones at the lower priced end of the market. 

As a solo video creator one of the things I can't do on my own is have a camera follow me as I move through an environment on my skateboard. Having a drone camera that can just lock onto me, and follow me as I ride my skateboard without me having to control the drone at all, opens up many possibilities for more dynamic video.

Elfie Selfie Drone
The Elfie Selfie Drone.
Initially I tried a couple of low cost selfie drones that were specifically marketed as ideal for filming yourself. The Elfie was my first selfie drone and did not meet up with the expectations of it's marketing. I could not get it to hover in place at all.

Flitt Selfie Drone
Flitt Selfie Drone.
I was then gifted a Flitt Selfie drone which showed some potential, as it had sensors in the bottom that could help it hold position in the air by scanning an area on the ground to detecting if it was drifting from that location.

While the Flitt doesn't have any tracking capability it is stable enough to position in the air with the camera pointing at the subject and then either take a photo or film some video. It also has a HD 720p camera which, unfortunately, isn't stabilized so video footage isn't always smooth. 

If it had camera stabilization and object tracking it would almost be the perfect drone because you can literally carry it in your pocket. However, it's also not great at flying in anything more than a slight breeze. That aside I still fly my Flitt drone for fun because it's just so portable and small enough to throw in bag... just in case.

My next drone was a cheap Visuo DJI knock off, with none of the features, that I won't talk much about here. I basically bought it to learn how to fly a drone manually with an actual controller instead of a phone app. It had a bit more weight to it and longer battery life so I could practice longer in less forgiving breezes. You can see it in the video below which I'm embeding because I also showcase my Rova Selfie Drone (you'll have to play the video from the beginning to see it as I've set it up to play from the Rova section).

The Rova I got at a bargain price (reduced from AU$399.00) because, as it turns out the company was going out of business. Not surprising giving the performance of their drone which was supposed to be the ultimate selfie drone that you could fly indoors or out. Packed with sensors and collision detection features you were meant to be able to fly it anywhere. Watch the video and we'll never speak of it again.


DJI Spark Drone
My DJI Spark.
A year or so ago my brother gifted me his first drone, a DJI Spark, after he upgraded. I would describe the Spark as an entry level 'prosumer' drone. Great for drone hobbyists/vloggers but also more than capable for professional use if you just want something small and easy to carry.

I kind of procrastinated well over a year to really learn the features of the Spark because the manual made it seem complicated. In reality it is actually one of the easiest drones I've ever flown, and definitely the most feature packed with object tracking, various autonomous flight modes, and collision detection.

As you can see in the video below it does a great job of following me on my skateboard. Although I have the controller in my hand, at no time am I actually controlling the drone while it is following me. You'll see me look around at the drone a few times just to check it's still following me because this is actually the very first time I've ever used object tracking on any drone.

(There's also a moment early on where the drone accelerated toward my head and then stopped. I don't know why but I suspect the tracking was locked to one of my bags instead of me and it got confused. I reset the tracking and it was fine after that).


As you can see, having a drone that is capable of following you around all on its own opens up a world of possibilities for solo video creators. While the cinematic, high altitude aerial photography is great for b-roll and scene setting, I find it more interesting exploring how to use object tracking at ground level.

My plan is to set it up tracking me from the side as I skateboard along doing tricks. Initially that's why I was looking at getting a drone but I'm sure I can be even more creative. As first step I thought it was pretty cool to look like I was being chased by a drone - because that's what I think it must look like to an observer.

If you're interested in using drones in this way you need to spend a little more on a drone that has GPS tracking and camera stabilization - as well as object tracking, autonomous flight (obviously). The DJI Spark is more than capable but it looks to have been superseded by the DJI Mavic Air 2, a more compact and capable drone with comparable features. 

If you've flown a cheaper drone that you really struggled with the controls, chances are it's lacking proper tracking and stabilization features like my earlier drones. The Spark is leaps and bounds ahead of them and is incredibly easy to fly, especially if you focus on the autonomous modes where, once you position it in the air, it'll fly itself from there. Definitely worth the extra money.

Note: This post is not sponsored by DJI (or any of the drone manufacturers mentioned) and reflects my own personal experience of actually using each drone.
 


Comments

Buy Gifts and Apparel featuring art by TET.

Popular posts from this blog

Guest Post: MY SOOPER DOOPER NEW CONSERVATORY/ART STUDIO!

Jo's new Art Studio/Conservatory. Today's guest post is by Artist, Writer, and Mental Health Advocate, Jo B Creative who writes for her blog,  Creating My Oddessey . Y ou should see our (almost) brand new conservatory, half of which is my art studio. 'Lucky me!' I think to myself. Not every creative bod can boast that. It's HUGE! Like a giant greenhouse. We first moved to our pleasant cul-de-sac house - great for raising kids - when our son, who's on the cusp of thirty-one, was four. One of the main reasons that we wanted it was that, apart from its location on the fringes of a historic market town in rural Hampshire, UK, it had a sizable conservatory looking onto the back garden. It was brown wood framed and had a corrugated transparent roof sloping down from downstairs ceiling height. On the face of it, it doesn't sound that glamourous, but we loved the idea of a conservatory. Luxury! I even liked the red brick walls which it was built against -

The Star Wars Saga: Episode II, Attack of the Clones *All Spoilers*

Continuing my series of posts, as one of my local TV stations shows every Star Wars movie in order, every Saturday, for the next six weeks leading up to the release of Star Wars, Episode VII, The Force Awakens , here is my response to and thoughts on  Star Wars, Episode II, Attack of the Clones . After The Phantom Menace I just wasn't interested in seeing Episode II in the cinema. I don't think I made any effort to see it or even had any anticipation for it's release.

How to Transfer Any Line Art to Your Griptape - Easy Skateboard Griptape Art Tutorial

Dog Star Griptape Art by TET Griptape art is once again gaining popularity amongst modern skateboarders. For those of us who have tried to create our own griptape art, using paint pens, you'll know reproducing your design onto the grip, without making any mistakes is incredibly challenging. Mostly because you just have to go for it and draw the design freehand, with paint pens, directly onto the griptape. You can make the odd mistake here or there but if you get the proportions of the design completely wrong, it can be very difficult to fix. Often you just have to live with the mistake. To address the problem I've come up with an easy way anyone can transfer a line art design to their griptape, removing almost all the anxiety of getting the proportions wrong. In fact, you could do this with any line art design, even if you have no drawing skill at all. Watch the video below to see my technique in action and/or skip past the video where I highlight the basic steps to get your de

Kids today are smarter than their parents?

How often have you heard it said that kids today are smarter than their parents? I’ve heard it quite frequently in the media – even Dr Phil has said it. I say speak for your self. It’s not true and don’t let the media fool you. Today’s kids may have access to more information that may give them more choices but in my experience, they only take in what they want to hear and still make stupid, uninformed decisions. Just like we used to at their age. Like any cross section of people there will be exceptions. There are kids that are genuinely smarter, more mature and responsible for their age. However the vast majority know everything they need to know by the time they turn fourteen. They’re ‘adult’ enough to be responsible for all their own decision making so parents should just let them do what they please…right? Just like we thought at fourteen. Don’t be fooled. Just because your son knows how to download MP3’s onto an ipod, or your daughter can chat to five friends at the same time

Boom Crash Opera Born Classic But Not Again

Boom Crash Opera are an Australian Band that reached the peak of their popularity in the mid to late nineteen eighties. They are a band that I knew about at that time but was never really excited by until they released their ill fated double album Born and Born Again in 1995 (Album cover pictured). At the time of its release I was very much into emerging Australian musical acts and was also looking out for new sounds that were different and had kind of a futuristic/electronic sound. Artists that I was buying at the time included; Swoop , Nine Inch Nails and Pop Will Eat Its Self . As well as a really interesting release by David Bowie, the concept album, Outside . Born was a fairly radical departure for Boom Crash Opera (BCO). The first single, Gimme , was often compared to the sounds of Gary Glitter, particularly his single, Rock n Roll part 2 , because of the pounding drum loops. Watch the video below. My favorite single from the album is dissemble which probably went now

Cy Twombly. Art you can love...or not?

The lawyer for the plaintiffs, Agnes Tricoire, presents to the court a reproduction of the kiss mark on a painting by artist American Cy Twombly. Photo: MSNBC In researching this post I'm happy to say that American artist, Cy Twombly's all white artwork, 'Untitled', is an exception to his art rather than the norm. Perhaps that is why the artwork is valued at just over 2.8 million dollars and lays some credibility on my rationale in pricing my own blank canvas in my video guide to Pricing your artwork for sale . Regular readers will know my distaste for blank canvas artworks so I could not pass up this opportunity to comment on Rindy Sam, a 30 year old, female French artist, who loved Twombly's blank artwork enough to kiss it with fully, lipstick loaded, lips. The incident happened on July 19, 2007, where the painting was part of a traveling exhibition on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art in the southern French city of Avignon. The kiss was described as an

"You are the Generation that bought more shoes..."

"You are the generation that bought more shoes, you get what you deserve." This quote is a song lyric that I heard on the radio (my apologies to the writer and artist that it belongs too because I don't know who either of you are). It's a great line and I can only assume it refers to the apparent lack of interest today's eighteen to twenty somethings appear to have in more serious and deeper issues. Not that I'm trying to hold myself up as someone who campaigns strongly for the greater good of human kind or that I spend significant amounts of time raising awareness of important issues. I'm certainly not a poster boy for changing the attitudes of people with too many shoes but lyrics like that do make you think. It's at this point that I really don't know where to go with this article. Should I focus on the material nature of modern society and its obsession with having more stuff? Or should I mention a few important issues, like Human Rights Abus

St!nk
* Affiliate Link - Support our advertisers and help keep this site free *