Safely taking video at sporting events just got a whole lot easier with this simple trick

Safely taking video at sporting events is hard for many reasons:

  • The subject is constantly in motion with no pre-determined path
  • We must avoid flying over people
  • We need to avoid obstacles such as trees and flood lights which can be very inconveniently placed

If you are watching where you are flying then you really can’t keep an eye on the action and tend to lose sight of the ball. This does not make for interesting footage.

The alternative is to hover in place and hope that the action comes to you.  Murphy’s Law is very clear on this last option.  “Only once you move from a location will the action on the field move to the location you were just at.”  I can personally attest to the validity of this law.

This has meant that taking video of sports is a two person job and requires a drone with dual controls.  Until now…

Working with Laurence Seberini of the Phantom Filmschool we created a technique called the Sports Railcam.  This amazing shot means you can be 100% certain that your drone will stay on a pre-defined rail, avoiding obstacles, people etc.  while still allowing you full control of the camera direction and angle.

Finally, a single operator is now able to safely take shots of any sporting event safely while still getting great shots!

Learn more at the Phantom Filmschool and get a 10% discount on the courses by clicking on this link.


9 thoughts on “Safely taking video at sporting events just got a whole lot easier with this simple trick”

  1. Pingback: How to Create Tilt-Shift / Miniature Worlds From Video - Avios Aerial MediaAvios Aerial Media

  2. Thank you for the wonderful instructions for filming field events like soccer. I am a high school video production teacher and I have I spent the last few days at my school practicing and fine tuning some routes for soccer and football.

    Is there a way to make my route be one continuous route? In other words, after waypoint 6, is there a way to have it go to waypoint 1 without going backwards through the route (5, 4, 3, 2, 1)? This would be for filming track events such as relay races where contestants go around the track several times.

    Is it as simple as choosing “Back to 1” instead of reverse?

    Nope. Just tried it. When it goes from the last waypoint “back to 1” it ends the route and I have to start it all over again. This won’t work if I’m filming a multiple lap relay race.

    Any suggestions?

    1. Hi,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      I don’t know of a way to have the software go back to point #1 and start again, but I can offer two methods that might do what you want.

      Option #1 Creating a loop is an option if you are using Autopilot, which is a competitor to Litchi. This would mean buying and learning another system. I’ve been playing with it recently but, so far, I have found the UI confusing so I need to spend a lot more time with it to become proficient.

      Option #2 While you cannot get Litchi to create a loop, you can create a mission with lots of waypoints that would basically give you (say) 5 (or more) times around the field at which point you could then stop the mission, re-upload and start again. There are two ways to do this:

      a. Set it up manually by using the app or mission planner. Easiest method.
      b. Set up the mission (I think you already have one). Then download it from the mission hub as a CSV file. Edit the CSV file and copy the rows as many times as you need by just adding to the bottom. Then using import to bring it back in using a new mission name. The advantage to this one is that if you are at home you can create it immediately and it will be an exact copy each time.

      I just tried this out (b) and within a few minutes went from a mission with 5 points (one at each corner and back to the start) to one with 20 points (4 times around the field).

      Here is the before:
      Here is the after:

      Hope that helps!

  3. Barry, I’m sure this is not the place to ask a question but I could not find a suitable place. I have been using Litchi and VLM to create waypoints but the limit of 250 waypoints in VLM is an issue for me. I decided to look around and came across this site: Sounds funny I know but this has been working very well for me. I can search for an address. Set a home point. Draw a polygon and it generates all the required waypoints. It has settings for overlap and shows you the actual FOV for your drone camera. When you save it produces a Litchi formatted csv file which you can import. Pretty much done with some minor tweaks. You opinion on this workflow would be greatly appreciated. I have been considering drone link but this seems to do the job and it’s free. Thank you.

    1. Hi Chris,

      Thanks for pointing this out. I had a quick play with it tonight. I’m not sure about the reference to VLM, since that is just a viewing mechanism – great for checking plans but you don’t need it for the actual planning.

      That said, by default Litchi doesn’t have a mapping option, so if you are looking for a tool that will allow you to generate mapping missions and upload them to Litchi, then this does look like it does the trick. Also, it looks like it handles “above ground” by default so, theoretically, you could even use it in any area with altitude changes, etc.

      Onoe thing to think about comparing it to “real” mapping systems. If your map is larger than one battery then you are going to have to know which waypoint you were up to so that you can go back to that after a battery swap. Not impossible but an extra step that other systems (dronelink, pix4d Dronedeploy) make easy.

      But, it’s free! Nice find.

  4. Barry, thanks for the quick response. The reason I mentioned VLM and the 250 waypoint limit is the latest version 2.8 something has that capability. You can draw poi’s and it will generate a waypoint grid for you. It works but the limits make it only useful for small areas. Trying to fly a 20 acre site with the resolution the customer needs means a max altitude of about 120 feet. This will generate a lot more than the max waypoints. I have been considering drone link for all the tools it brings to pre-planning and setup but it seems very expensive. What is your opinion of it?

    1. Hi Chris,

      Thanks for letting me know about that feature. I haven’t used VLM for a long time so it is nice to see it continues to evolve.

      I use Dronelink all the time and it would easily handle your 20 acre site.

      It is not the only system I use, but it is the one I use the most because it has so many features that I never have to use anything else for planning, or switch apps onsite.
      For example, I shoot at a 400 acre construction site every couple of weeks. The shot list includes an ortho of the whole site, 10 different 360s from pre-defined locations, a series of photos around the whole site, and a short video. In Dronelink this can literally be one mission and all I have to do is swap batteries – it handles everything else including going back to exactly where it left off after each swap. If I were doing that using other systems I might use Pix4D or DroneDeploy for the ortho, Litchi for the images, Litchi for the 360s (but with a mission to put it at a location first and then switching to the 360 area), and then Litchi again for the video. Battery swaps would be automatic in DD/Pix4D but would not be in Litchi.

      I don’t know if you are aware but I put out short videos on how to do different things in DL – you can find that here:
      You will also find some of my videos in the Phantom Filmschool, which is the closest thing to an official training video for Litchi.

      That said, there are other great options if you just want orthos. DroneDeploy and Pix4D are good ones and, depending on your drone etc. can also be free for the capture part. I don’t think you mentioned which drone you are using for this.

  5. Barry. I have been following your stuff for a while. I appreciate the videos and instructions you give. It has helped me get the basic proficiency I have now. I am at the point where drone link makes sense. I most certainly will be watching your videos and how to’s. As for me I live in Lawrence. KS. I own a mini 3 pro and an air 2S. I am in the market for a bigger drone but as you have commented I am not happy with DJI at the moment. I want something like the inspire range. On a side note I found out about you from you sister in law who also lives in KS. No names mentioned here of course. Oh and I also have the funny accent. Lol.

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