Getting smooth, easy orbits

I want to generate smooth orbit videos.

What I have tried so far
Currently I have tried two options and I’m not quite happy with either:

  1. Use the Orbit mode

    1. While this is probably the easiest, it doesn’t have an option to start an orbit from where the drone is currently with respect to the Homepoint (assumed to be where I still am). I have to manually set the altitude and radius options and even then I get slightly jerky yaw motions.

    2. Example orbit settings I used:

      • Altitude = 50m (the drone is lauched from about 20m high building wrt to the ground, if it matters)
      • Radius = 50m, 30m
      • Speed = 5 degrees per second
      • Follow touch mode, with the marker on the homepoint (where I stand with the controller).
      • Android 6 on a Redmi Note 3 Pro
  2. Manually fly the drone in FPV mode
    Definitely more challenging, but I can get noticeably smoother orbits with manual control when I actually nail it, but its a lot more work with many, many failed attempts.

Questions:

  1. Is there a better way to get orbits? I’m looking primarily at improved smoothness and then ease of use: ie, to start an orbit from where (Altitude, Distance from homepoint) the drone currently is.

  2. Does the Orbit mode in Litchi respect the limitations of yaw-rate and yaw-smoothness set in the DJI app? Can that be the cause of the ocassional jitter in yaw? I think I have Normal mode gimbal limits of 10 degrees per second with smoothness of 15 in the DJI app.

I can try to verify Question 2 tomorrow, but I’d love to hear from the dev’s who would obviously know much better. (can we please add this control to Litchi app - its tedious to have to switch apps and reconnect each time I want to change a value there like for this experiment)

Tagging @vico if they have any suggestions/advice.
(I’m assuming you are a dev, and I hope you dont mind :slight_smile: )

I don’t know if you red the Online User Guide, but your list of settings is confusing and incomplete.
-Altitude is always relative to the take-off point.
-The Radius can not have 2 values.
-Follow touch mode… I asume this is the center of the orbit.
Missing are:
-Entry Point
-Heading Mode
-Direction
-Gimbal Control
-Subject height

Smoothness in general highly depends on the type of drone you use.
Drones older than the Mini-1 fly much smoother in all automated modes because they are not controlled by Virtual Stick Commands (search this forum for ‘VSC’).

I am flying a Mini 2 on Android 6.

I have read the online user guide and usually try to remember it when I fly (as I am still learning).

When I put 2 values for radius I meant that I tried those 2 values separately one after the other. I tried those two values because I thought that the jitter might be caused by an aggressive yaw needed when I was close to the centre (30m) so wanted to see if moving away (50m) would help reduce the intensity of the yaw and thus hopefully avoid the jitter.

-Follow touch mode… I asume this is the center of the orbit.

Yes, I mean that the name of the setting in the app for that.

Missing are:
-Entry Point
-Heading Mode
-Direction
-Gimbal Control
-Subject height

I forgot to note these other values because as I understand they should have no bearing on the jitter I see in the yaw operation.
Entry point was always set to nearest (to save me time)
I cant remember what I used for heading (meaning I didnt change whatever was the default),
Direction I tried both clockwise and anticlockwise (made no difference)
Gimbal control was left at default setting
Subject height I used 0m, 1m and 2m in various runs - didnt seem to make any difference

Virtual stick controls

Thanks, so if I understand correctly, these are simulated inputs from the controller being sent to the drone. So I guess they are certainly going to be affected by the “rate” and “smoothness” values set for the yaw setting for Normal mode within the DJI app? I mean Litchi has no settings for this rather important control so I assume the setting gets set in the drone from the DJI app and continues to be used even when I use Litchi?

I guess that can cause jitter, because the Litchi app-code might want a certain amount of yaw and sends the VCS commands to it to the drone, but that doesnt happen immediately since I have smoothing turned on rather strongly during yaw (smoothing = 15-20 IIRC, in the DJI app in my Normal mode) and now Litchi realises the camera is not pointing at where it thinks it should - and then overcompensates with a stronger yaw command and so on.

In fact that sits better with my observations - the jitter is not continuous - It feels like so - consider each word below describes the footage for 1second of time:
smooth > jitter > smooth > jitter > jitter > smooth > smooth > smooth > jitter > smooth etc

So I know its possible -uisng whatever controls litchi is using - to get smooth footage over several seconds (2-4s I think) - but eventually the jitter returns and kind of ruins the smooth shot I was trying to take.

I’ll try with low values of smoothness for yaw set under DJI app for the Normal mode today.

  1. Place orbit center on homepoint (either tap on HP on map or use “POI at device” custom function)
  2. Use “Orbit at Aircraft” custom function to start orbit from where drone is

For DJI Fly drone models, orbit and waypoint curves can be a bit jerky, this is something we hope to improve in future versions

It should apply yes but it still may not get you the results you want.

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I have had some pretty good success using this tool. Using Mission Planner you can make perfect circles of waypoints. In this one I used 90 waypoints with a point of interest in the center which I needed to add in Litchi hub.


Unfortunately my neighbors house blocked my signal near the end of the orbit so Litchi stopped the mission but I got enough of the Orbit in video to give you an idea what it looked like.

Thanks everyone for your suggestions :slight_smile:

I have gotten a bunch of test runs with various settings - a sweep of settings on yaw-smoothness [0, 5, 10, 15], radius of orbit [30m, 50m] and radial speed of the orbit [3.5 degrees/second, 7 degrees/second].
I’ll report back on what I see after inspecting the video on my PC.

From the live feed I saw on the mobile phone smoothness improved noticeably around yaw-smoothness=10. Yaw was also smoother when I tried angular speed of 3.5 degree (as opposed to 7 degrees). Thats expected, but I want to figure out some standard values that work well so that I dont have to experiment when I am out on the field with limited time to get my captures :slight_smile:

@vico - One observation: The “POI at device” and “Orbit at Aircraft” functions dont seem to do anything when I tried it. Here is how i tried it:

  1. I bound them to the C1 Orbit (left) and C2 Orbit (right) buttons under Settings > Keys (pressed back to get to main screen)
  2. Switched the Mini 2 to Orbit mode,
  3. Launched and flew the drone to a point in the sky I wanted it to be at, adjusted the camera to point towards me.
  4. Short pressed C1
  5. and then short pressed C2 about a second later
    and nothing seemed to happen - ie, it didnt start orbiting me.

Am I doing anything wrong?
(Also it was annoying to have to land the aircraft when i needed to change the yaw-smoothness values since its not cahngeable via the Litchi app. Would be nice to be able to change this setting from inside the Litchi app - even though its not a setting that a lot of people will routinesly change I suppose)

@l985xj6 - is it possible to “relocate” that circle to wherever I am on the map (like a new city) when I start flying using just my phone and the drone? Or is it fixed to the location it was created on the map?

As far as I know once it is in Litchi you can place it any where you would want.

The gist of my observations is this:
The smoothest orbit - so far - was obtained with the following settings in the Litchi app:
Altitude = 50m
Radius = 50m
Speed = 3.5 degrees/second
Yaw smoothing = 15 (set from the DJI app for Normal mode)
Yaw max speed = 15 degrees/second (set from the DJI app for Normal mode)

Or in other words, spin slowly, and as far from the subject as possible. Not too surprising, but I was hoping that I would be able to get a smooth orbit under 50m radially away from the subject - which I havent yet succeeded in.

Which, btw was also my very last run - so I guess I’ll start off another sweep of settings from this point tomorrow increasing the radius and maybe checking out increasing the smoothing further still.

Not sure if its anecdotal, but it also appears that the jitter is worst near the starting phase and improves noticeably about quarter of a orbit in.

Note that while the orbit was noticeably smoother with the above settings, it takes a long while to get a complete orbit - and you cant really speed it up in post production. Because as a whole there is still some slow-jitter in the camera yaw and that gets worse (more noticeable) when you speed up the footage in post-production.

@vico: Does Litchi send virtual stick commands to just control to the drone orientation - or does it also separately control the gimbal direction/orientation (in this case only interested about yaw) as well when orbiting? Because it almost appears to me - in some of my footage - that the jitter is really caused by the gimbal snapping to move/reorient, and not by the motion of the drone itself. As if, if there was an option to not move the gimbal (meaning like using follow mode on the apps) - then the footage would be smoother already - since in an orbit the the camera is always looking at the center of the orbit by default…

@l985xj6 - I’ll check it out. Just learning litchi right now, and so learning things one by one each day :slight_smile:

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C1 should have placed the orbit center on yourself (mobile device location), then C2 should set the orbit radius. Then you still need to start the Orbit in the orbit settings, it won’t start automatically

We are aware of this and will try to add them in a future update

It controls the drone pitch/roll/yaw. It also controls the gimbal pitch but does not touch the gimbal yaw, that one is automatically controlled by the DJI firmware and supposed to follow the drone yaw smoothly but we know that is not smooth enough with current implementation.

We are aware of this and will try to add them in a future update

Thank you! That’d be nice to have :slight_smile:
I see your point about the custom actions now - it’d be nice if the custom actions produce a small info popup (popup like the wind warning) that clarifies what just occured and that it actually executed when they execute (like when I press C1)

Back to orbit smoothness

I did one more sweep earlier today. The aim here was to see if increasing the smoothness and and increasing the yaw rotational speed (both settings to be changed inside the DJI app, not Litchi) will improve the smoothness of the orbit in Litchi.

While its hard to find a trend, my personal view after checking the videos is that there is minimal, if any improvement in orbit smoothness in going from smoothness 15 to 20 or 30.

On the other hand increasing the yaw-speed from 15 degrees/second to 30 degrees per second caused a slight, but noticeable decrease in smoothness of the orbit.

In all these runs so far, the orbit was designed such that there was enough room between the orbital anglular velocity and the maximum allowed by the settings for Normal mode (set under DJI app).

Up next I’ll try reducing the maximum yaw allowed to match/be close to the required angular velocity and see how that affects the smoothness of the orbit.

The best settings for me on the Mini 2 continue to be these:

The smoothest orbit - so far - was obtained with the following settings in the Litchi app:
Altitude = 50m
Radius = 50m
Speed = 3.5 degrees/second (this is a little too slow though)
Yaw smoothing = 15 (set from the DJI app for Normal mode)
Yaw max speed = 15 degrees/second (set from the DJI app for Normal mode)

Speed = 3.5 degrees/second is a little too slow though…

Well, that was a disappointing set of runs. Keeping the required angular velocity close to the maximum yaw speed did not help. If anything, its probably worse.

I got one of those runs with the camera set to FPV mode, and to my eyes, it looks marginally better than the follow mode video. Not sure if that was pure chance or if there is something really there. Might try this out next weekend when I have some time.

That said I did find something. There is a free (as in free beer) and open-source video editing application by the name of ShotCut and its stabilization choices seemingly do a good job to smooth out the yaw-jitter from my videos. Its not perfect, but there is a significant improvement over the raw capture in terms of yaw-jitter-smoothness. Of course it goes without saying that each re-encode/export of the video will usually cause significant loss of detail from the footage - particularly if you dont understand what youre doing wrt the settings of the export.

I used the “Stabilize” filter with the following settings - and I quite like the increased stabilization:

Analyze Options:
Shakiness = 4-5
Accuracy = 5-6
Filter Options:
Zoom: 0-5%
Smoothing: 20-40

You can switch apps while the drone is airborne. Just close Litchi and then open DJI-Fly. When you’ve changed the yaw smoothness settings and checked them with the Fly app, you can shut it down and reopen Litchi.

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Thank you, I wasnt aware of that. And I didnt have the courage to test it during the flight :slight_smile:

Back to the stabilization.

The stabilization approach in post processing works well enough for my needs for now. Linking some resources I used:
The following post from the shotcut forum is useful - although some of its explanations are wrong:

If you want to know the settings better, here is the project which it is based on - and it explans what the settings control better:

So as a concluding remark for this thread here is what I do to get smooth orbits on a Mini 2 using Litchi app:

  1. Before using litchi, in the DJI FLy app set the Normal mode Max yaw rate as ~15 degrees per second and smoothness 15 or more

  2. Switch to the Litchi app and use a reasonably slow radial velocity when orbiting - say 6 degrees per second (60 seconds for 1 full orbit) or lower.

    1. I use Radius and Altitude to be ~50m each when I wanted a lot of surrounding area to be in frame. For capturing more scenery drop your altitude so that your camera pitches up more (compared to 50m altitude). As always, keep an eye out for obstacles.
    2. Keep the video of the orbit isolated if possible - ie dont make the orbit a part of a long video capture - let the video clip begin when the orbit begins and end when the orbit ends with about 2 seconds of buffer at either end
      1. If you want to cut video without having to re-encode it (and lose quality) - use LosslessCut
  3. Use shotcut (free, open source video editor) and apply the stabilize filter. I have settled on the following values, generally using the higher end of these values if the video has large jitters:

    Analyze Options:
    Shakiness = 4-6
    Accuracy = 5-6
    Filter Options:
    Zoom: 0% (dont crop the video)
    Smoothing: 15-60

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