How to create a Drone Video Timelapse of building a house

Does anyone have experience with premiere pro and drone time lapses?
I’m using litchi to have my drone run basically the same flight every time, which means that If I line up the starting points of the video exactly and cut between them every few moments, it looks somewhat like the build progress is happening.

Here’s a rough demo I put together with 0 premiere skills: Quick Timelapse Demo - YouTube so you can get the idea

My key question: does anyone have a good method of syncing up the videos? In the ideal situation all videos would start in exactly the same position (waypoint 1, say) at 0:00 and at 2:00 all videos would end, but in reality, well the drone sometimes takes longer because (wind?) it didn’t manage to get a specific spot in a given amount of time, sometimes shorter etc. Any premiere pro wizard who can tell me their process?

While I don’t have any experience using Adobe Premiere Pro, I have done something similar to what you are doing.

I documented the construction of a water tower by flying the same mission over the course of a few months and then blended the footage together using smooth transitions between the various clips. I found that because each flight varied slightly due to GPS tolerances, no two clips ever registered perfectly with each other. Each new clip had to be shifted slightly horizontally or vertically. As a result, I needed to scale all footage to around 110%. This allowed me to shift the position of each clip to align it with the previous clip without exposing the edges of any clip in the output. It was a bit of work, but it can be done.


I have used a video editor named OpenShot Video to sequence videos.
You could:

  1. fly orbit missions,
  2. sequence them (you can speed up each video clip in the software),
  3. adjust the X,Y position of each clip
  4. add titles, music, etc.

I agree with @wesbarris it will be a lot of work, but it should prove to be gratifying

Thanks both, yes as you can see with my little demo the ‘basic’ idea is fairly straightforward, I guess the crucial part is to have the crossfade happen when the drone (incl wesbarris’ point around 110% zoom and then using the leeway to line things up) is looking exactly at the same spot.

I suppose my key question is - what controls and tools do video editing tools have (premiere or openshot video or…) have to line those shots up as exactly as possible.

My plan is fairly ambitious. I expect to make 50-odd flights, not timed (eg once a week) but instead basically ‘when something interesting has happened’, and then indeed spread those across the 2 minute full litchi path around the plot.

One thing I already noticed doesn’t really work is to just try to line up the start (e.g. when the drone passes a particular waypoint) and then just pray. It’s close-ish but I suspect I will have to modify and shift/zoom/pan every single video.

A couple of screen grabs from the OpenShot website (Features)

Plus more

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The reason they don’t line up is because you are only using GNSS/GPS.

If you want things to line up, you need to incorporate RTK. Without RTK, your RMS error is about 3ft …with RTK, its about 0.1ft

Fair point, didn’t even know RTK existed but well my amateur (249g) mini2 won’t do that and can’t carry 3rd party RTK kit without becoming too heavy to legally fly. Still, I think that with a little bit of work I can actually make something reasonable and repeatable. The demo video that I put together in under 5 minutes can be much improved by itself to at least an interesting level. Hyper smooth amazeballs is not required for me to be happy.

Crucially I’d love some (more) tips on how to make the process to import and edit these videos as quickly as possible. Thanks @Sam_G already for a few items there! I think crucially I need to:

1/ Find an easy way to quickly sync the start time of videos so (theoretically) you can fade between them and it will look like the drone is in the same place.

  • My current plan is to sync the drone flying past a particular hedge, and pre-cutting the videos at exactly that spot.
  • Worried about the drone taking longer/shorter than normal on flights and messing up the sync

2/ Somewhat compensate for the accuracy variation of a poor non-RTK drone.

  • Someone mentioned zooming the videos to 110% which gives me 10% margin I could use to shift the frame around where needed

3/ Dealing with weather - fading between sunny days and overcast days

  • No idea how to handle yet. I guess I can turn down the bright days and turn up the light days a little

Remember that windy days can affect the timing of the mission and can slow down the approach to a waypoint in a headwind and speed up the approach to a waypoint with a tailwind. Try to fly on days that have the most similar flying conditions overall.

I too have been trying timelapse of the building shopping complex and found some program glitches that I don’t seem to get right with Litchi on site and have to go home and sort it out on Litchi Hub. Maybe I must simplify the Waypoints to something less complex. Just hover slowly from point A to point B at 5km/h and take pictures every 3 meters.

I fully agree, thus the reason I prefer to set to Meters instead of Seconds. This way the GPS will decide to take the shot.

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Sorry for the late reply to this thread. I do an increasing number for construction timelapses. Happy to advise if you have any questions. UAV Works