The Mavic Air QuickShots

One of the compelling features of the DJI Mavic drones are the quick shot capabilities. These are programmed maneuvers that the drone performs while rolling video. Properly used these pre-programmed shots can be stunningly effective.

Testing the boomerang quickshot of the Mavic Air
So far my favorite is the new boomerang shot, introduced in the Mavic Air. Check out the video to the right for an example of what these quick shots can do…

Boomerang is an elliptical maneuver starting close to the target, then sweeping out to a selected distance behind the subject, before sweeping in again. Thus the shot progresses from the target, to a wide view of the surrounding landscape, then back to the target. In editing I would likely use only the first or last half of this shot as needed to tell the story.

Two new maneuvers, Boomerang and Asteroid were added with the Mavic Air and are not available with earlier models like the Mavic Pro or Spark.

One of the key features that make quick shots work is locking onto the target. the drone performs image recognition to track the target throughout the shot. Be it a person, a vehicle, or even a landmark, the drone keeps the target in the view throughout the shot, even if the target has moved.

In the boomerang example above I walked a short distance during the shot, yet the drone comes to a stop right in front of me at the same distance it started. Locking the target properly is key to the success of the shot. Thus the maneuver is started by touching the screen to select the correct target to use for tracking.

How to use the dronie quickshot of the Mavic Air
Another good example of quick shots is dronie impressive is the dronie quick-shot. This is a simple, yet effective, sweep away from the target. The result is a zoom from the target to a wide view of the surroundings.

Several of the quick shot modes have selectable parameters. Dronie allows the pilot to select the distance to which the drone will fly to away from the start point The example here was set to 80m back from the start.

You have to be careful in using these modes. The drone will need clear airspace in which to complete the maneuver, so a little planning is in order. The first time you use these shots should be done in a completely clear area to allow you to experiment and learn what the drone will do.

As is amply demonstrated in a couple You-Tube videos of drones smashing into things, there is no obstacle avoidance to the side of the Mavic. Several of the quick shot maneuvers involve the drone flying sideways to keep the camera on target. A recipe for trouble if you do not plan the shot properly and there is a solid object in the flight path.

The trick is in choosing the right shot for the right situation. How does the shot further the story you wish to convey with the video? As noted above several of these shots are excellent means by which to set your subject in the landscape.

Like any video special effect, it would be easy to overuse these quick shots. I suspect they are best used in moderation, and to make a point at a critical moment in your video production.

I am looking forward to the vantage point the drone allows in my videos, and quick shots will probably be a significant part of the show. Now to take a voyage, get a lot of material, and see how I can really use it!

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on Mauna Kea, Hawai'i.

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