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2 drone or not 2 drone?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Drones?

I have had 2x gopros (one with a gimbal) and tbh have never used them much a, To much faff and b, the footage is pretty boring.

But with talk of a catskiing trip with mates it got me thinking about drones. I like the idea of setting it on a follow me function and letting it do its own thing. What's the latest are they up to this or in the real world just to much faff?


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Thu 21-01-21 0:42; edited 1 time in total
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WASHOUT wrote:
What's the latest are they up to this or in the real world just to much faff?


too much faff but something like a mavic mini will follow you, well until it doesn't.

The biggest thing to watch out for is that they update their Return to Home coordinates before you fly, or they may try returning say from Soviet Russia to your base in Serre Chevalier, as a random example.
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Just shifted (after 6 months ownership) my mavic mini - was not satisfied with the range or wind resistance - so if you get one steer clear of the first gen mini. There is also a max take off altitude of 3000m if I recall correctly.

Mavic mini 2 addresses a lot of these issues.

What I will say though is the footage due to the perspective is much better than what you get off a go-pro - but you need to know how to operate the drone well.

I found that while I got great footage of others with it - none of myself and it’s not like giving someone a go pro and telling them to ski behind you. They need to know how to use it and be proficient.
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I have a drone and I considered taking it, for the different camera position, but I decided against it after watching the resort's professional drone outfit with their kit. Thin air makes for very high power demand from the drone, and low temperatures make for short battery life. The Pro had two octo-copters (8 blades), each with an industrual-grade battery and his assitant lugged around a whole pack of extra batteries. I'm thinking each was a £20K+ piece of kit at least. The resort hires him for major competitions and events, and to stand by the big fun park and film people for free. You can also hire him to record you and he does off-piste as well (I assume he's a competent skier, if not qualified instructor) - prices I've seen are CHF 250 for half a day, CHF 400 for a whole day. I suspect they also use him in the summer to do maintenance surveys of the equipment. The resort is keen to discourage personal drone use and you now have to have insurance if you fly one >500g and even if it was below, I'd be hesitant about being sued if something went wrong. In winterm there are helicopters and light light planes flying the area (which has an altiport) as well, and obviously rescue helicopters can - and do - materialise at any time. So all-in-all, I decided against and if I really want some quality drone footage, I'll hire the resort guys for a session and I'm sure being pros, they'd get much better footage than I would, and as pointed out, it'd have me in it for a change.
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The DJI Mavic Air takes nice footage and is portable - lives in my avi pack. Batteries (I have 3) last about 10 mins in the cold which is usually plenty (as fingers get cold). The follow me mode works ok if you’re going slowly and without too many obstacles behind for it to lose you. It also doesn’t descend in altitude so not ideal for skiing. I’ve never trusted it to try and video myself as it would mean packing the controller into my pack/jacket and it’s then a gaff to get back out if it loses you. You really need a dedicated drone pilot controlling it and taking the footage IMO. The Air 2 has apparently improved on the follow capabilities and I’m considering upgrading
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You could also look at the spark.
It can be operated with hand gestures (I think the mavic may now offer that as well)
To use the follow me mode, may be worth wearing something hi-visibility so it does not lose you in the snow.
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I think you'll find that it's not practicable.

A lot of user-generated action cam footage is so bad because the shooters are too lazy to even "faff" enough to frame their shots. Drones require about ten times more "faff" than action cameras.

To shoot a video you need to understand the terrain and the skier's intent, then compose and capture the shot. Technology has not yet managed to solve even the first of those issues. With a limitless budget you could train an drone on a line, then get a competent skier to pace the drone whilst using a pro-grade 360 camera to postpone composition until post. That would be significantly slow and expensive compared with ground-based techniques.

I don't know any cat or heli operators who would allow you to fly in their tenure; those I ride with won't. A typical cats takes 10 or 12 people... none of whom want to pay to wait for you to faff. You could rent the whole cat, but it would be cheaper to hire a pro videographer who will get significantly better ego footage.

=> it's a marketing concept
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I think @philwig is right, the footage you think you will get will be nothing like whats actually recorded. You'd probably be better off using one of the new 360 cameras and getting it on a pole, film yourself or get another skier to finm you, then using the software and editing to give you shots you want.
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I have been the owner of several drones, and have used them a lot.
Mavic Mini: To little resistance to wind, and only (at best) able to go to 3000 meters - My experience: More like 2500 meters. Controller reach too little, and camera not really good, but kinda okay,
Mavic Air two: Awesome drone, but i bit too big to fit into bag, but great tech inside. It does follow mode okay, and would the weapon choice had the next one not been launched
DJI mini 2: Perfect size and with the new controller i has a long reach. Camera quite good if you fiddle with the settings, and much more wind resistance with a ceiling at 4000 meters - Makes it perfect for the mountains, maybe apart from the Valle Blanche trip down:-) Size is awesome, and will fit any bag, and are only 249 grams, so less regulation to worry about. So what do you give up? Nu follow-mode since i have no sensors on other than the front, so only build-in programs allow follow. My new favourite!


Last edited by You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net. on Thu 21-01-21 13:19; edited 1 time in total
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@WASHOUT, be aware that drones may be prohibited in parts of pistes - and it won't always be obvious exactly where, as there will probably be no signs on the ground. In France for example, see https://www.geoportail.gouv.fr/donnees/restrictions-uas-categorie-ouverte-et-aeromodelisme; there are restrictions in large parts of Trois Vallees, Les Arcs, Tignes/Val D'Isere etc. Local operators will know exactly where they can and cannot fly, but visitors can easily get caught out.
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@Richard_Sideways, yes a 360 cam would give better results most of the time.

This is a bit of actioncam on a ski pole footage, it would have looked quite reasonable with a 360 camera


http://youtube.com/v/Q7uu3-ld4zg

The problem with drones in the EU is the none pro ones are transmit power limited to 500mw (I believe) which limits how far you can fly and also potentially the video quality for fpv especially where there are sources of interference: wifi, transmission lines, ski lifts etc. You are also very restricted where you can fly them: not near helipads or airports and not over ski runs, buildings, infrastructure.
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The OP never mentioned follow me mode- but if that is the most important feature you want - then when I last did my research (6 months back) this was after the mavic air 2 was released, the skydio 2 was the best in market for follow me mode - https://skydio.com/


http://youtube.com/v/-hJJDWw0VoU
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extremerob wrote:
The OP never mentioned follow me mode


Quote:
I like the idea of setting it on a follow me function and letting it do its own thing
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
I stand corrected though my view on this is that the technology is not where you need it to be to have the trust in the device to follow you on a mountain.

There are a lot of comparison videos on youtube demonstrating the tracking ability for some examples of what is / is not possible and what happens when the tracking goes.
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Sorry i should have been more clear. Its the follow me function that appeals to me most and collision avoidance would also be of a interest. We are looking at remote places for catskiing ie Georgia so no problems with ruffling the feathers of the local ski company.
The 360 degree cameras also look of a interest.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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@WASHOUT, as far as a I recall all the mavic drones require you to keep the remote controller (+phone) enabled for the follow me mode- there are stories of people skiing with the remote in a backpack and purchasing 3d printed guards for the joysticks not to knock them out of place. Or using a lanyard round their neck with the controller (+phone) on their chest. This for me makes the follow me mode useless.

There is an example here of what I mean with the guy setting up his drone to follow him on his motorbike - look what he does with the controller:


http://youtube.com/v/ePb1Nlnj7H0

On the other hand why I mention the skydio 2 is that it doesnt need a controller to operate - you can control it directly from your phone or with a beacon - which is great for action sports.


http://youtube.com/v/8W8Q785n_X4
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WASHOUT wrote:
Sorry i should have been more clear. Its the follow me function that appeals to me most and collision avoidance would also be of a interest. We are looking at remote places for catskiing ie Georgia so no problems with ruffling the feathers of the local ski company.
The 360 degree cameras also look of a interest.


IMO the Mavic Air 2 is perfectly transportable in a 30l avi pack and would be perfect for your use, if you have a group with a couple of people who can take turns flying the drone. If you’re riding in off piste terrain you’re anyway frequently skiing one at a time so the first or last rider sets up the drone (2mins), films everyone and then brings the drone back, packs it and catches you up (2 mins). It takes a bit of practice to get efficient and work out the best angles / modes to fly the drone in but you can certainly get footage which IMO is miles better than from any GoPro/360 device
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For me this issue isn't 'follow me' - it's 'don't hit anything while you're flying'. Even now, hobby drones simply don't have the collision-avoidance needed to safely follow someone who is skiing around public pistes, or in an area where rescue helicopters may suddenly materialise. On top of that, My drone hits some sort of software bug around once every 18 months that causes it to simply stop and return to the ground. It does the same if it thinks it's about to run out of power. Which is not so bad in the countryside - but on a piste? As an owner I can see that if you were really careful and conscientious you can probably choose the right terrain and operate one with a low degree of risk. But I would feel that sooner or later, I'd just make a bad choice or circumstances act against me and then I've got a skiier doing 20-30kph who collides with it. The problem isn't going to be the core of experienced owners who understand the issues, its going to be the PR and marketing by the manufacturers that convinces people they can use it to get stunning footage, without any effort and very little thought or planning.
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BobinCH wrote:
... if you have a group with a couple of people who can take turns flying the drone. If you’re riding in off piste terrain you’re anyway frequently skiing one at a time so the first or last rider sets up the drone (2mins), films everyone and then brings the drone back, packs it and catches you up (2 mins). It takes a bit of practice to get efficient and work out the best angles / modes to fly the drone in but you can certainly get footage which IMO is miles better than from any GoPro/360 device
I don't believe that's practical, but how about posting the footage you're referring to to show me where I'm wrong?

Show me some real user-generated footage created using "follow me" in the manner you suggest on a catskiing trip.
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@philwig, there is no good follow me drone footage because DJI who have 70-80% of the consumer drone market share until the release of mavic air 2 were unable to track and descend, and the biggest issue I mentioned earlier is that you need a bulky controller to be operational while tracking. Skydio address this but they are a startup based in california that until recently had huge delays in shipping and backorders.

The truth is the drone will keep disconnecting and losing the skier - mavic 2 pro tracking test @5:01 the drone loses tracking, imagine now you're in powder or offpiste with avi risk, having to hold a remote in your hand or keep checking the drone is following you


http://youtube.com/v/Jm2yormsvkQ?t=253
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extremerob wrote:
@philwig, there is no good follow me drone footage because...
<laughs>Yeah, those things too.

We just need to see some of this "miles better" footage and then we'll all know where we're wrong.
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@LaForet, the Skydio linked above has the best collision detection.

@BobinCH, your videos are impressive enough from the GoPro, have you got any skiing ones you've done with the drone?

I thought long and hard about it and went for a 360 camera, which I think gets pretty impressive results, the only thing I can't get is the lovely panning shots or where it flies away/to you. First 2 vids are taken with the GoPro Max by an unskilled old guy!!


http://youtube.com/v/9McJDj6lRH0


http://youtube.com/v/P6Pfp-Tn7Wk

Skydio Customer Highlights


http://youtube.com/v/4rdrtEU-9Bw
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philwig wrote:
BobinCH wrote:
... if you have a group with a couple of people who can take turns flying the drone. If you’re riding in off piste terrain you’re anyway frequently skiing one at a time so the first or last rider sets up the drone (2mins), films everyone and then brings the drone back, packs it and catches you up (2 mins). It takes a bit of practice to get efficient and work out the best angles / modes to fly the drone in but you can certainly get footage which IMO is miles better than from any GoPro/360 device
I don't believe that's practical, but how about posting the footage you're referring to to show me where I'm wrong?

Show me some real user-generated footage created using "follow me" in the manner you suggest on a catskiing trip.


No I’m saying operator controlled, not follow me. I’ve never got the follow me to work well on Air, but believe it’s better on Air 2. Even if you use it you need the operator in control to react if it loses the target or to reduce altitude (which it can’t do on its own). I have some footage that I’ve posted on here before. Will have a look for it this evening
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I have the Mavic air. Great if you are controling it. Pretty much useless in follow me mode for ski and mtb
Best I've managed -
http://youtube.com/v/oiMb25SWYJw
But strangely fine if running. Guess it the lack of change of alititude + much lower speed. Portability no issues, finaly solved the cold problem - before use (but not ages to avoid moisture) transfer to an inner pocket (yup fits in a fleece pocket). Have dragged mine on multi day treks without any issue.

http://youtube.com/v/OPfNMg-ATKM&t=5s
Huge difference in range depending on which country you are in, it limits the output power dependnig on local regulations - getting 1km at best in France - 4km no problem in Japan
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@philwig, that Skydio youtube above has some decent follow me shots IMHO
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Yes, I can see the tech is improving all the time. And as a drone owner, I am very much pulled both ways on this. But if it's a case of keeping the air clear versus clouds of drones following skiers around, then I'd opt for clear air. I'm there to ski, not to be a film producer. I'm a tech guy as well and I know that there's no way to suppress innovation, but I just worry that, as with everything, a minority of careless/stupid owners are going to cause enough accidents that we get a general prohibition, which would be a shame.
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@LaForet, well said

Lets not forget when things go wrong ... maybe its another reason to wear a helmet NehNeh


http://youtube.com/v/xeviAWB0i4Y
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To get yourself a Skydio2 with the follow-me kit you're looking at a $1500 outlay, but agree it does look pretty cool.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
The Litchi app does a better job of following a target with the Mavic drones. Whether the footage is actually usable is another question but I think if you mixed this in with some pov and ground shots it could make a nice little 2 minute video.


http://youtube.com/v/7TGtMON1Jv8
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This is one from the Bec de Rosses a while back. 2nd half was one of my first attempts at following someone. I’ve got better I think but struggling to find the vids. Will have another crack this weekend with both follow mode and operator controlled and report back

http://youtube.com/v/z5KRDZ2p1Nc
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kitenski wrote:
@philwig, that Skydio youtube above has some decent follow me shots IMHO
It's a marketing video, and if you look the shots are very carefully chosen and professionally edited.
There's a very brief overhead shot of some snowy forest, but nothing remotely like follow-me cat skiing footage.

I've not worked with Skydio marketing, but have been on multiple catskiing tours with the GoPro marketing people over the years.
Those budgets and professional riders make things easier and you can fix some of the legal issues noted, but really they
aren't relevant to the OP. You have to look at real user footage to know what purchasers can expect.


davidof wrote:
The Litchi app does a better job of following a target with the Mavic drones. ...
Yes, but again, you have to look at precisely what they're shooting and think about the differences between
that and what the OP would need the machine to do, even if you ignore all the other reasons it's not going to work.
These are all really rather old marketing samples.

BobinCH wrote:
This is one from the Bec de Rosses a while back. 2nd half was one of my first attempts at following someone. I’ve got better I think ...
Yeah that's obviously a good direction, but it's not what the OP asked about.

It's specifically using a drone in a guided public group; in a catskiing tenure; and with "follow me" that I'm saying isn't really going to work.
But it feels like telling people that their favourite snowboard will be crap in powder.... sometimes people have to learn the hard way.

I would use a mix of heli / drone stuff and ground-based stuff myself if it worked in these conditions.
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@philwig, ok fair point,

how about this one? I'm genuinely interested in finding a video from a Joe Avg user!


http://youtube.com/v/sXxijpHqs10
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@kitenski,


http://youtube.com/v/YL1ShK9mSwo


http://youtube.com/v/OHs9xgb9FeU
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kitenski wrote:
@philwig, ok fair point,
how about this one? I'm genuinely interested in finding a video from a Joe Avg user!
Yeah, saw that one when they went for funding... I'm not sure they even built the thing. It caused a stir at the time, but that was then... never seen any since wink

Interesting though, isn't it? How things can exist in marketing form, but possibly not at all in the real world?
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@philwig, sorry don't follow you, what doesn't exist in the real world?? As @extremerob, has shown they are out and even in Europe??
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@kitenski, they were very hard to get your hands on, they shut down manufacturing last year during the first covid out break, there use to be a waiting list as well. The current shipment time is 45-60 days on their site. I tried to find one in summer in the UK/EU and no one was stocking.

I think a lot of what is out there has shipped to influencers etc

Highly recommend www.mavicpilots.com it’s the like drone equivalent of snowheads if you want to do some research / read reviews / see what issues people are having
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@extremerob, thanks, I darent go on that website FOMO Shocked Laughing
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Reading this i think the cameras a few generations away from what I am looking for. The 360' degree cameras more tick the box.
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@washout, Check out white hearts.de, they have some great drone vids of cat skiing in Georgia last winter
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If someone slowed us down on a cat skiing trip messing around with their drone or anything else, we'd bring that to a swift end. If you have all the votes in the tin can, then no problem.
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