My first week with the DJI FPV

So it’s safe to say things have been pretty mental and it’s been hard to take any time off this year but as I’ve been working non stop I’ve noticed and have been thinking about the bits of gear that sit on my shelf and never get any use. So I decided to sell a number of items and one of them was my DJI Mavic Pro.

This is a drone that was an absolute work horse for me, it’s is an incredible piece of technology and I have had so much fun flying it over the years. However since upgrading to the Inspire 2 it has pretty much sat on the shelf gathering dust only being wheeled out for small corporate gigs that didn’t want the bigger drone. So I decided to trade it in for DJI’s shiny new FPV drone.

Why did I pick this one in particular, for a number of reasons. First reason is manly for the acrobatic moves that aren’t possible with the Mavic or Inspire series, it will definitely add a few extra options there. My second thread of thought is that if it turns out that I am utterly crap at flying an FPV you still have the option of flying it like a regular drone anyway. The Camera isn’t the best but I can always attach a GoPro to it if needed or use my inspire.

Fiona K Graham on location in Derry shooting with metal band Darkest Era 2021

So my first experience of the FPV has not been amazing, straight out of the box it is not flyable and I was particularly annoyed by the fact you can’t mount a monitor to the controller. I really don’t see why it’s not an option. Another thing that annoyed me was the battery for the goggles is neither in the goggles or attachable to the goggles, why do you have to hang a battery via a cable from your face and why is the power button for the goggles on the battery.

I have a lot of shoots on at the moment so I get about an hour in the evenings to myself to relax and having heard that the FPV has a simulator I thought brilliant I can sit down and give it try before going to bed….no.

I could not for the life of me get the goggles, drone and controller to all connect at the same time and I kept getting error messages saying the drone needed to be updated before it can be flown despite the fact that I updated it twice through my phone. I gave up.

Night two more of the same shit only this time I was using my laptop to update everything. More problems cause DJI don’t seem to be able to get their software to work properly with Mac computers (I recently sent my inspire back to DJI because of what I thought was a fault with the drone that turned out to be their software not working properly on the three different Macs using three different operating systems I tried it on. This needs to be sorted out) I eventually managed to get everything updated but they still wouldn’t connect with each other. Very angry I gave up again.

Night three I powered everything up and it just worked, I have no explanation as to why but it did and I decided not to question it. So sitting down on the couch very excited I downloaded the separate simulator app and took off.

The simulator is quite good and the controls are very responsive. I started in normal mode just to get a feel for it (stick mode 3 cause it’s the same as a playstation controller, my time video gaming had to come in handy for something) I quickly switched to sport mode which is a little looser then normal but still the same controls and quite fun.

DJI FPV

When I switched to Manual (not full manual I haven’t unlocked that yet) the propellors stopped and the drone simply dropped out of the sky. Lesson one. So the controls are drastically different. You don’t pull diagonally down on the sticks to start the props you pull directly down on one then double tap the start button, not sure if this would happen outside of the simulator I will be starting M mode from the ground from now on. The drone then just starts rising and doesn’t stop cause you have to lean the drone forward for forward movement. Best to stick it into hover straight away and work from there.

Once I got the hang of it and started flying something became very apparent….. My motion sickness which limits me to the driver seat of a car kicks in very quickly when using the DJI FPV Goggles. So after throwing up for a bit and an hour on the couch recovering I began to google the issue to see if it was a thing…..yes it’s a thing.

The internet recommends a few things for this issue, first take a dramamine…… I don’t personally want to be taking drugs every time I want to fly so probably not the solution for me. Next up the suggest starting in normal mode and very slowly introducing more movement to get you body used to it and hopefully overcoming it. Aside from that there doesn’t seem to be much else you can do.

The solution I have decided to go with is to mount an iPad to a lighting stand and mount the goggles below, this way I can start small keeping my line of sight with the drone and learning to do the moves by watching the drone while slowly introducing the goggles to the scenario.

So that’s how my first week with the new FPV drone went I’ll do an update when I’ve played with it a bit more and actually flown it.

Drones, Docs and Dojos

So we’re entering another week of lockdown and people are getting frustrated and stressed, I’m not going to suggest what people should be doing or things to do to keep positive or anything like that, everyones circumstances are different and there is no one fits all . But on the upside the film industry is working and there appears to be a lot of work out there.

Things do seem to be very last minute and a lot of stuff is being rescheduled and pushed back even as I write this another shoot I’m on has been moved for the third time but the industry is moving and that’s not nothing.

So what have I been doing since my last post. Well, not a huge amount to be honest there’s been a few day work on Dramas and corporates but a lot of them keep getting moved due to the current situation. So to keep myself sane I have been going for evening runs and learning how to play Dungeons and Dragons. Anyway back to the film stuff, I took my drone out to soldiers point and the Cooly mountains for a practice run then brought the footage into Davinci Resolve and used Lookdesigner by colour lab to try out different looks

And when not shooting stock footage on my drone or working on corporates or dramas, I’ve been working on a few personal projects. The edit for my documentary “In The Shadow of The Bull” is very close to being locked. This doc has taken me years to get near the end of and has broken my heart more then once but it’s nearly there, we’re about to enter the scoring and grading phase and I’m looking forward to getting it out there. Hopefully there’ll even be an “in person” festival run.

A Still from interview with Alex Meehan of the Namiryu Dojo

I’ve also started a new project, a documentary on martial arts namely Bujinkan with the Bujinkan Namiryu Dojo. The Doc is about the evolution of the art from ancient Japan to modern day, it’s place in western and modern society and the people who study the art. I have been training there for four years now and aside this is a subject I am passionate about it’s more then an excuse to study more about the art. Last Wednesday I shot an interview with Alex Meehan the Sensei of the dojo which was absolutely fascinating. here is a still from the shoot showing the RAW Footage from the RED Scarlet Dragon and the LUT I designed for it in Davinci Resolve. The LUT is a Kodak5217 Vision 2 200T film stock emulation printed on 2398 modern stock. ( +4 C, 0 M, -3 Y).

For more info on current projects or to discuss new ones feel free to get in touch. I’m always looking for things to shoot or colour, I’m especially interested in shooting more drama at the moment.

fionagraham@singlecellfilms.com