Litchi Mission Filming a Rowing Shell

I haven’t bought or used Litchi. I am hoping an experienced user can shed some light on my project’s feasibility.

I want to video a rower on a canal so the rowing technique can be analyzed with my DJI Phantom 4 Pro. The canal is a half mile long and 115 feet wide, tree, and building lined. The rower will be closer to one side or the other, depending on time of day and lighting and we can keep the drone 30’ away from the shore, trees, and bushes in our mission plan. The rowing shell moves at up to 11 mph. The rower wants the full boat plus some room 6-10’ front and back to be filmed from the side so the drone would be shooting the boat & rower while flying sideways. Drone height is best at 8 – 10 feet above the water. There is not full line of sight for the drone while following the rower. When I did this shoot prior, I was the rower and had a phone in the boat and a headset on so an eye could be kept on the drone for the safety of the drone, the rower, and the trees around the lake :wink:. A friend flew the drone who is a very experienced drone pilot and we got great video. This time I want to shoot my wife rowing and her me. I’m an okay drone pilot and she is inexperienced.

I am thinking that Litchi might make this shoot easier. My understanding is that the mission could have a waypoint at each end of the rowing course and the drone could fly the path +/- 16’ of error which would miss any foilage. The Litchi pilot would then just need to keep the rower framed in the screen by controlling the speed of the drone. My questions are would the drone be able to safely fly at 10’ above the water at 11 mph flying sideways while the Litchi operator just adjusts

the speed to keep the boat centered in the video? Is this how it would work? Any better solutions?

We tried follow me in DJI Go 4 app and it didn’t work well. I’m also concerned using follow me that the drone could hit something while flying sideways at 11 mph with no avoidance.


Take a look at the ‘Cookbook: Cable Cam’ section at the bottom of the Waypoint Tab in the online user guide:


A Litchi waypoint mission can indeed be constructed using a series of waypoints placed along the course of the river. To ensure that the canoeist remains framed in the picture, a series of Points of Interest can also be placed along the exact predicted course of the canoe, which will be slightly off to the side of the drone’s flight path. Each successive waypoint would then be stipulated to have the camera facing its corresponding Point of Interest marking the exact canoe path.

If the canoe can be relied upon to maintain a constant 11 mph for the entire course of the river that is being paddled, the Litchi mission cruise speed can be set to the same 11 mph, whereby synchronizing the canoe with the drone’s current position would entail allowing the canoe a few seconds to attain that 11mph speed, at which point the drone would need to be launched from a point along the riverside directly adjacent to the location at which the canoe attains its cruise speed of 11 mph.

The canoeist could then adjust the speed of the craft to remain in the picture frame while the drone’s Litchi waypoint mission and paddle are in progress.

Due to the very low altitude at which this Litchi mission will be flown, it might be worthwhile doing a quick calibration of the usual suspects, GPS, IMU, camera gimbal, optical sensors, and controller joysticks. Litchi missions do sometimes show inconsistency in adherence to users’ altitude settings.

Thanks so much for the tips so far! I’ve been practicing a bit with the Litchi app to which I am new. It’s pretty cool. It would be awesome if it had a geofence that could be used along with the missions just to make sure the drone stays out of trouble, but I think it will get the shoot done the way it is.

It’s best to do this mission a few times before tracking the boat. And when the mission trajectory is clear, just watch the boat manually control the camera.

Another way is to use focus mode. But the entire route is controlled by the drone manually.

As someone who likes to canoe and fly drones, it would seem to me that the critical part (excluding getting stuck in a tree) is syncing the canoe and drone together. What is a comfortable rowing speed? As the drone approaches , the canoe begins to match speeds with the drone but you want to have a little extra speed available in case the canoe started getting behind the drone. If you were rowing at 8 mph for instance, the reduced speed would make it easier to speed up to stay with the drone and reduce fatigue on the canoeist.

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