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The GoPro is redundant, Hail the Spark Drone !

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Well not quite - but you can get some superb footage as well as at the same time increasing your IT induced stress levels Puzzled

I would not recommend buying one if you're at all phased by tech.

There are around 4 constituent elements that should work / talk together relying on WiFi / GPS (not including pilot error) as well as running via one of the most glitch orientated Apps I've ever come across.

First off you have the Drone itself, a superb piece of kit, small and light weight and takes a great video - negative is only 16mins of battery and by the time you've faffed setting it up does not leave you a great deal of air time, especially as at 20% level it wants to fly home (if that works).

You then can have a remote controller which links to the Drone, I highly recommend getting one if at all thinking about purchasing one.

Then using your phone or tablet which is linked to the remote controller you run the app so you can see what you are filming and utilising a whole host of functionality.

The app on Android is very glitchy and from what I've now reading is better on an IPhone.

There are loads of YouTube videos out there to help and I've just uploaded one which shows the other side of things which I think will bring a smile to your faces Toofy Grin


http://youtube.com/v/k9TsVh8Gt58
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Footage looks great
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@Weathercam, note from self, don't try flying in the dark near trees at night after a few shandies. I did with my Karma last night, new props arrive tonight, can't see any other damage outside the 4 props but won't know for sure till next flight. Embarassed
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Oh well, I guess birds of prey can be trained to take them down? Twisted Evil
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I think this was taken with a combination of Go Pros (normal camera) and a Spark Drone. It's what happens when one of your riding buddies breaks his neck (riding) but doesn't want to miss out!
http://youtube.com/v/ui1uGGtSIIY
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@Weathercam, I’m going through the same learning curve and, as you say, it’s very steep. I bought a Mavic about two weeks ago. I’ve only taken it out a couple of times and also flown it in the garden. It’s incredibky easy to fly, but a lot harder to end up with the amazing cinematic footage you see on YouTube. I’ve had zero problems with the app on an iPhone. Why are you using WiFi?

Two lessons I’ve learned so far:
1. Rotating the camera/lens left and right seldom looks good. Better to do most filming ‘straight’ although rotating around a fixed point does work.
2. Because you have no aperture control you can end up with higher shutter speeds and no motion blur. This makes close up movement look very shimmery and horrible. I’ve just bought some ND filters which are supposed to help.

Surprising the level of anxiety that appears when the drone gets more than about 100m away, or even when it’s directoy above you but more than about 60m high IME. A lot of fun though.

What software are you using to edit?
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@foxtrotzulu, I've just un-installed the app after reading through forums about how best option is to source the last version that was working well with Android pre August - so will have the pain of linking them all up again but hopefully the app crashing problem which for me was the biggest issue will no longer happen.

Once flying was not really an issue, apart from the bright low sunlight, what with the app crashing and then being unable to really see the screen (now have phone on 100% brightness which eats battery) clearly did go towards pilot error Confused o

I link phone and controller with an OTG cable.

As for editing, I've been editing for nigh on 20yrs so I can edit a film like the above in ten mins or so.

I'd recommend an older version of Adobe Premiere Elements which you can pick up on FleaBay for £35 or less
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Interesting. My Mavic's been rock solid on Android for almost a year.... I've used three different phones in that time all with multiple versions of the OS. Perhaps it's that the Spark (which shares the app) is newer so more flakey. I have not tried to use WiFi to control the thing.

The Spark footage doesn't look as rock-solid-stable as the Mavic, which I'm surprised at. What were your shooting settings? The Mavic is scary stable.

I just skimmed the video, but you crashed in a circling motion? If you were in one of the tracking modes, then there's a separate setting. You you have to turn on to turn on collision avoidance specifically for that mode. The setting is reset by firmware updates. If you don't turn it on, even if general obstacle avoidance is enabled, then it will circle and hit anything in the way. If you turn it on, it should be fine. Unless you also turn on the "enable backwards flying in tracking mode" thing, as the Mavic at least has no sensors on the back. But this one defaults "safe", where as the other setting does not.

On the Mavic the quickest "please stop doing that" switch is to flip it into "sport" mode, which is a physical switch on the side of the controller. If you're not pushing the sticks, that'll stop it doing whatever it's decided to do and return to hover.

Here's a shot from last week which has somehow been diminished by multiple jpeg manglings (it doesn't even look sharp here, but it is). I'm still fascinated by the different perspectives you can get from a drone.
A couple of meters high and dumping heavily. Mostly on my head, hence I don't have pretty drone footage of actual surfing. My mate is in there somewhere.
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@philwig, think Spark is a lot smaller than the Mavic and only has a two way gimble as opposed to a 3 way.

I'm still learning and I've achieved much steadier footage in Tripod mode.

I've uploaded the older app but it still crashed twice this morning, but I can still fly etc

I'm going to see if the app will work on an Iphone 5 which my daughter no longer uses.

Thanks for the tip about the circling avoidance, at the time I did not know I was putting it in to circle mode.
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Some great perspective available from these platforms, ive seen some inspired footage.

The rotation sequence on @Weathercam, footage looks like it's caught in the horizontal image stabilisation process as it tries to hang onto a lateral slide, but then jumps as it hits the end of correction and goes again in a next step. Image stab on still cameras I think is off for lateral panning with vertical remaining active otherwise it'll compromise even still frames up to quite high shutter speeds.

@hammerite, you can see quite big switches in colour balance between the different camera sources within the footage, is it colour corrected during edit at all?

I know people moan about these filming methods by they can get such amazing footage, very interesting.
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@ski3, I have no idea how the video was edited I was just one of the (poorer!) riders.
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ski3 wrote:

The rotation sequence on @Weathercam, footage looks like it's caught in the horizontal image stabilisation process as it tries to hang onto a lateral slide, but then jumps as it hits the end of correction and goes again in a next step. Image stab on still cameras I think is off for lateral panning with vertical remaining active otherwise it'll compromise even still frames up to quite high shutter speeds.


At least at is the Drone and not Gavin who is crashing on his first day of the winter!

One thing I see on a lot of TV footage is very jerky movement as a drone flies along. Not the same as Gav's footage which could well be the stabilization as you say. Someone told me the TV issues are due to them using 30 fps on 25fps TV and not editing the footage with the correct profile.

Apart from that it looked ok to me, makes a change from the endless clips of people filming the tips of their skis with a Go Pro.
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davidof wrote:


At least at is the Drone and not Gavin who is crashing on his first day of the winter!



Very good Toofy Grin

So more experimentation today and trying different app versions and devices (switched to tablet but still issues), would seem that you should never consider buying one of these if hoping to use it on an Android device, that said I'm getting use to the frailties of it.

This quick vid example is of the Active track mode* and you can see the potential.

Another setting is the Tripod mode which is super stable and cinematic.

I hope to be using this to film some nice ski touring climbs as I'm pretty sure it will not keep up with a skier descending!


http://youtube.com/v/BZeiSHZ2CO4

*Active Track you focus in on the subject and hit "Go" and as the subject moves the drone follows without the need for any operator control.
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Weathercam wrote:
would seem that you should never consider buying one of these if hoping to use it on an Android device


didn't you get the controller? I'm sure you'd find it much easier to fly. Apart from that all the footage I've seen so far looks ok, I'm sure in the ski season with better light it will improve further. I appreciate that you are just experimenting for the moment but the footage from the Granon? was interesting to look at, it would be nice to see an overview of the conditions at the moment.
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Have the controller linked up with an OTG cable. So when app crashes I can still control the drone.

Was up Lautaret today and yes there is snow but bike was better option.

Looks like you scored some turns today.
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Weathercam wrote:


Looks like you scored some turns today.


Yes a few turns, I was lucky the 7 Laux didn't open leaving the off piste untracked. After the last couple of years I'm trying to take advantage of what snow there is when it is there. I hope this isn't the best snow of the season, like last year.

Be interesting to see the conditions at the Lauteret.

Not great for cycling here due to the inversion layer which means it is very cold in the valley and there are very few places round here you can get out of the clouds.

The great advantage of the Spark (and the Mavic) is that they are small enough to carry. As they say, the best camera is the one you take with you. The app crashes sound like a nightmare. It is funny how trees suck in drones... and kites.

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Saw the inversion in your photos. Here in Serre Che been unbroken sunshine but you only have a couple of hours to take advantage of the sun.

Get a sweat going climbing but need to pack extra gear for descent due to wind chill.

Spark is so small to carry. And it's all about practice re set up me thinks and then once we're out on the hill in snow there's the little matter of take off and landing!

Poubelle bag might be an option?
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@Weathercam, I haven’t tried hand-landing, although it looks easy enough. Taking off from the hand was as easy as pie.

Not sure if the Spark is slower than the Mavic, but I would have thought it would come pretty close to keeping up. The mavic does active track at 34mph.
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Kai's view:


http://youtube.com/v/-zCuuvYX1PA
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Turns out it was a DJI Phantom used on the video above. My mate had another drone that had a gps malfunction and pretty much fell out the sky. He used the credit note and the fact he wouldn’t be spending any money on bike kit to upgrade to the Phantom.
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Weathercam wrote:
@foxtrotzulu, (now have phone on 100% brightness which eats battery)

Get a juice pack and give your phone battery a boost between flights Very Happy
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@davidof, think you're right about some of the footage that's shown, the original frame rate if you travel too fast will have significant drop out as the scene is replaced faster than the frames can be recorded.

In @Weathercam, samples, you can see that when the drone moves and keeps the target the same then it's relatively smooth. But when you rotate the platform with the scenery going past the lens it goes into a loop of trying to stabilise the image as it slides, hits the end of its ability to hold onto the image and has to then jump back to centre to regain the incoming image position.

That very first part of the footage in first clip is very cinematic though, really grabs the scale of the panorama as it rises with those distant mountains coming more into centre view.
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@ski3,
Quote:

n @Weathercam, samples, you can see that when the drone moves and keeps the target the same then it's relatively smooth. But when you rotate the platform with the scenery going past the lens it goes into a loop of trying to stabilise the image as it slides, hits the end of its ability to hold onto the image and has to then jump back to centre to regain the incoming image position


Good explanation. I was struggling with the same problem and assumed it was due to the lack of desirable motion blur. The question is, what can you do to avoid the problem. Is it just a question of avoiding any (apparent) fast movement?
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It's an odd thing as if you circle the drone round a target then the image is essentially still as it stays centre frame, for example in the follow/ tracking shots. This allows stability methods to work well and is entirely valid to correct, within reasonable parameters, and makes a good feed image.

The opposite is to rotate the drone, the stab control just detects the image constantly wiping one way or the other and triggers it's control methods to try and hold onto it.
On still cameras that use stab control (think those big white Canon Lenses) if you pan with them for example motor racing, you can just use vertical stability mitigation as you don't want that movement to degrade the image but the horizontal mitigation is switched off AFAIK.

Whether you can alter the stability settings on these, I don't know. My son has a very low cost drone with no stability on camera and just the giro for platform control. It doesn't do this at all, of course it has nothing like the resolution of these more equipped units.
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@foxtrotzulu, yes, thinking about that further, if the frame rate (not the shutter speed) is higher when compared to the field of view movement, it should give any video software a better chance of give a smooth image output as each frame differs very little from it's previous one.

So if you slow down the rotation to see what it does, it may still trip the stab software into going which won't help you. There must be a threshold for this but whether it's available to adjust it is a different matter.

Guess if you are just travelling toward or away from scene you don't get much content change and the image being resized in all directions doesn't qualify for any stab control reaction.
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@ski3, @foxtrotzulu, as I mentioned a few thread above "Another setting is the Tripod mode which is super stable and cinematic"



http://youtube.com/v/Fv9P0lpsdg0
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I'm amazed at what they pack into them and how's quickly they've developed capability.

@Weathercam, I was wondering after I wrote my last post what the tripod mode you mentioned does. That slow move through scenery is, as you say, very reminiscent of big screen cinema.

Notice how though in the opening sequence looking down how much bias the colour repro has for the track, it's bright magenta. This is common to alot of programming seen on current broadcast, when they cut from conventional camera view to drone footage the colour management goes to pot.
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All Tripod mode does is detune the controls for you, or at least it did when the Mavic first came out. You can do that yourself more subtly in the settings. You can change the response curves of the controls. I don't bother though: it's easier to just get used to the feel of it.

I've not noticed any artifacts with panning or tilting the camera (or the vehicle for that matter) with the Mavic - it's buttery smooth. I think they must have an over-sized sensor and digitally stabilize in addition to the gimbal stabilization and drone flight control. Obviously it is entirely possible to be ham-fisted and fail to edit out unwatchable transitions. wink You can't (to my knowledge) really tweak the stability algorithms from the UI, although it's not something I'd want to do because for this one at least it just works. There are various overrides which you'll probably want to use.

Colour management: shooting in "D-log" gives you more latitude to handle in post.

The Mavic's controller powers the phone's, so the battery of your phone doesn't really matter.

My flight log shows 17.9m/s as my top speed - that's about 64km/h. Which I'm told is about 40 Imperial miles per hour. That will have been done going "down hill" in "sport mode", so it definitely won't "active track" at that speed. It's significantly slower with all the electronics turned on, but then most stuff I'm shooting isn't going that fast.

My original Flame Wheel drone is about 8 years old now... certainly these have moved on faster than most things in that time. But that was a huge leap ahead of previous RC helicopter stuff in terms of ease of use.
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philwig wrote:


I've not noticed any artifacts with panning or tilting the camera (or the vehicle for that matter) with the Mavic - it's buttery smooth.


I wonder what the original footage was like? YouTube may have introduced these.
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@davidof, i’ll Post a quick vid later today so you can see the shimmery/jerky affect I’m talking about.

D-Log ...... quite a few of the more expert drone cameramen (if one can judge by their footage and general demeanour) seem to suggest that D-cinelike is actually a far better profile to use for 99% of people, 99% of the time. You lose a negligible amount of flexibility and you start colour grading with something that is already 95% done. Have you found D-Log to be that much better?
http://youtube.com/v/Rrxq7x8U7HM
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ski3 wrote:
@foxtrotzulu, yes, thinking about that further, if the frame rate (not the shutter speed) is higher when compared to the field of view movement, it should give any video software a better chance of give a smooth image output as each frame differs very little from it's previous one.

So if you slow down the rotation to see what it does, it may still trip the stab software into going which won't help you. There must be a threshold for this but whether it's available to adjust it is a different matter.

Guess if you are just travelling toward or away from scene you don't get much content change and the image being resized in all directions doesn't qualify for any stab control reaction.


This all gets a little bit ‘thinky’ for me, but isn’t frame rate pretty much fixed? Well, not fixed, but isn’t it more about the output and for cinematic stuff you’d generally want to stick to the PAL frame rate of 24 or is it 25.
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for the issue I see a lot in TV footage someone posted this to the DJI forum (I appreciate TV will be using bigger drones)

"we found the problem; the videos on the drone's memory card are at 29.97 fps but when we pulled into the editor fps the profile was set to a strange 30.57, this produced the jumps"

You'd think people doing broadcast editing would be aware of this but judging by the output, apparently not.

But I agree the Spark problem is probably the image stab trying to compensate for the pans. There is quite a lot of chatter about this on the DJi forums. Wind seems to be another big issue for the Spark as it pitches and yaws and the image stab tries to do something. Can you turn the stabilization off? I would be tempted to do this with VirtualDub in post processing, if needed.
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foxtrotzulu wrote:
... D-Log ...... quite a few of the more expert drone cameramen (if one can judge by their footage and general demeanour) seem to suggest that D-cinelike is actually a far better profile to use for 99% of people, 99% of the time. You lose a negligible amount of flexibility and you start colour grading with something that is already 95% done. Have you found D-Log to be that much better? ...
You have to get from the sensor's linear data to something which the eye's log response can handle.
You're right that there are many ways to do it. My point was that some of those ways allow more control for anyone who's not 100% happy with the out of the box stuff.

--
With premiere pro it "knows" the frame rate of the capture and you can set your output sequences' frame rate to that or anything else. With consequences of course. I can't imagine what those guys are talking about.
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@philwig, out of the box stuff is fine for me at the moment, whilst getting to grips with it Toofy Grin

Spent some time today experimenting with "Fly to Home", Tripod and few other settings.

App crashed about six times over the course of two batteries and on the second battery the phone crashed, that said can still fly with the remote controller.

Think today was the first time I flew it so far I could not really see it, and in RTH it ascends to 30m which is way higher than I usually fly anyway, I suspect this is all part of the learning curve.

This is the Helix mode which is pretty cool (and totally unedited) and you can see me panicking a wee bit, not so much about flying the drone but where my dog had gone. She decided RTH to the van was the best option Toofy Grin


http://youtube.com/v/QDp1eP6ooUY
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@Weathercam, Like you, I'm just learning the ropes. It's a pity one can't play with the settings more without having the drone live, with fan whirring etc. I've got a couple of problems I'm tackling. The first is prop flicker (I've just bought a lens hood, but I think it's more about choosing your angles carefully) and the second is lens condensation. I think the latter is a hardware fault that will need to be sorted by the manufacturer.
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here are a few random test shots from my first half-dozen flights while learning to fly the Mavic Pro. I wasn't attempting to put any sort of coherent narrative together, I was just trying to learn how it all works - including the editing software. Comments always appreciated.

As you'll see, there are a few lessons to be learned:
revolving shots just make people feel sick
Colour grading needs a lot more practice
Don't film into the sun
Shorter clips needed. Editing needs to be ruthless.
Everything looks/feels better with music (even if it's cheap and cheesy)
Most important things are composition and decent weather/light


http://youtube.com/v/1hwy2LOjRVI
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Interesting map of no- / restricted-fly zones in France. https://www.geoportail.gouv.fr/donnees/restrictions-pour-drones-de-loisir. Operating in a no-fly zone, even by accident, appears to risk a €15000 fine and 6 months inside. Crying or Very sad Restricted zones have a maximum height, between 30m and 100m.

Most built-up areas are no-fly; as are (not surprisingly) strips around 1000m wide extending for 4-5 km off the end of any runway, and 1000m circles around any helicopter landing zone. So in e.g. 3V that covers the lower slopes of 1650; the top of Saulire / Vizelle; much of the piste on the east side of Meribel; and a strip above VT. Some places (e.g. Valloire, Valmeinier) are in zones that have a blanket ban including the whole ski area.

Luckily for weathercam Serre Chevalier is restricted in the town only.
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The whole issue of no-fly zones is interesting. If you look at the app produced by NATS in the UK about the worst you will ever see is "We strongly recommend you do not operate your drone here" (that was directly over LHR!). There are areas where it says that flying a drone 'may be prohibited', but if NATS can't tell you, then Lord knows who can. Happily, I'm miles away from anywhere that is remotely dodgy so I should be OK.
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Couple of weeks back tried to film OH, KenX and Les Chiens skinning up whilst standing in deep powder, not the best of conditions to try and launch the drone!

I carried in my back pack a tupperware box lid about A4 and launch from that, except in the deep snow it slid off as I was taking off and went into my down jacket which was laying too close alongside, net result one broken propeller and tear in lining of jacket.

Today I skinned up on my own to a place we went earlier in the week and out of the trees. This time just me and no dogs.

I set the launch landing spot using said box lid on top of my skis upside down. This time success but was so cold the batteries lasted all of a couple of mins it seemed, plus I could not not see on my phone what I was shooting, and hands became too cold.

I've ordered up an Ipad Mini so should be way better when I get that.

But this just gives you a taste of what can be achieved (filming my line for the descent)!


http://youtube.com/v/vC4MYH2u4xI
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