High-tech drones have a myriad of settings to adjust to match your flight style. Adjustments can be made to accommodate different goals or purposes and have total control.
With that in mind, DJI has created a few flight mode settings that allow the pilot to quickly switch settings, including a cinematic or Cine mode for video capture.
DJI Cine mode changes how the drone maneuvers by slowing its rate of braking and rotation, creating more fluid movements and video captures.
In this step-by-step guide, we will cover:
- 4 basic drone flight controls
- What role the gimbal plays
- What settings are changed in Cine mode
- How to adjust the settings
- Sample settings to capture smoother video footage
4 basic drone flight controls
The first thing about aerial videography that a pilot needs to understand is how drones maneuver. More specifically, controls that are used to fly quadcopters up and down, left and right, and turn in the air.
The 4 basic controls for a drone are throttle, pitch, roll, and yaw. We will go into a little more detail about each of these functions.
Let’s cover the throttle control first. Throttle is the control that provides more or less lift to your drone and can also impact the speed of your drone in flight. Throttle controls the vertical lift of the drone, both up and down.
Reducing throttle by pushing the stick down allows the drone to descend by slowing the speed of the propellers. Throttle creates equal propeller rotation to climb directly up in the air. When no throttle is applied, the drone hovers.
Pitch controls the drone flying forwards and backward and is done by pushing the right controller stick in the desired direction of flight.
When pitch is increased forward, the rear propellers will receive slightly more power than the front, creating forward movement.
Conversely, when pulling down on the pitch control, the drone will fly in the reverse direction as the front propellers will receive more power than the rear.
Roll is when the drone is flown left or right from a stationary position and is controlled by pushing the right stick on the remote control to the left or right.
In this side-to-side movement, the drone may tend to tilt in the direction of its movement if the sticks are pushed quickly.
When the control sticks are pushed gently or slightly to the left or right, the drone will appear to simply drift left or right.
By increasing roll to the right, the left propellers get more power creating the desired movement. The opposite applies to rolling the drone to the left.
The last of the basic controls is yaw, which changes the direction or heading of the drone and is controlled by pushing the left stick to the left or right. Control of yaw changes the direction you are pointing the drone towards when flying.
When used alone, the drone will simply rotate in the air while maintaining its height and position relative to the ground. When capturing video, use this control to pan the camera left or right.
Combining these maneuvers to fly your drone with precision and comfort will take some practice. Becoming more proficient with your flying is an essential part of capturing cinematic footage and will be the basis for positioning and movements that you capture with your camera.
One more important component of your drone controls that we need to cover is the gimbal.
What role does the gimbal play?
The camera on most DJI drones is attached to the aircraft by a gimbal to aid in capturing smooth footage and maintain a level position when the drone is in flight.
A gimbal is a complex mechanism that stabilizes a camera using a system of sensors and motors that communicate with the drone and react based on the attitude or orientation of the drone.
As with handheld cameras, movements in any direction will result in shaky or bucking footage. Stabilization with a gimbal is imperative to reduce this.
Without a gimbal, the camera would tilt up, down, left, and right following the slightest movements. Even minor changes in the wind will result in shaky footage.
The gimbal allows rotation on an axis to offset drone movements and maintain a level position. This is essential for drones to capture smooth video footage while flying in different directions.
The combination of various flight directions and the gimbal is how interesting cinematic shots are captured. Capturing cinematic footage is one of the primary uses of drones, so DJI created the Cine setting to make it more efficient for filming.
In addition to stabilizing the camera, the gimbal can also be adjusted to tilt the camera up and down.
The full range of tilt control varies between DJI drones, but it ranges from slightly above or up from the horizon to straight down to capture a bird’s eye view.
What settings are changed in Cine mode?
Drones are highly precise, and they need to be to ensure they can be flown safely and provide the pilot with all the control they need to accomplish their mission.
DJI drones have a Normal flight mode that provides the pilot with standard settings. This mode is commonly used to fly from point to point and capture great photos and video right out of the box. It’s a great starting point for each and every flight made.
There is also a Sport mode setting that bumps up the performance for throttle, pitch, yaw, and roll to take full advantage of the capabilities of the drone.
Cine mode essentially places thresholds or limitations on control settings to limit the ranges of speed at which the drone can be manipulated.
These limits for the control sticks allow for slower and more fluid movements when pushing them all the way.
On some drones, like the Mavic 2 Pro, pilots can further dial-in these limits and set ranges to match their style to achieve the smoothest flight movements and video footage.
For the DJI Mini 2, Cine mode smooths out the range of flight controls by reducing braking distance and allowing the drone to drift more in rotation, regardless of the sticks.
So, when you yaw and release the control stick to its neutral position, the drone will continue rotating slightly and come to a smooth stop. In this case, the gimbal needs to provide very little compensation to maintain a smooth panning shot.
By default, in Normal and Sport modes, this braking is very precise and the gimbal helps compensate for the motion.
Similarly, when pitching forward and backward or rolling left and right, releasing the stick will cause the drone to no longer accelerate. It will drift slightly further and come to a stop smoothly.
Care needs to be taken when flying in this mode so that there are no potential obstacles nearby since there is the possibility of the drone drifting into them before stopping.
Understanding how those flight controls are changed in Cine mode, there are additional controls that control the gimbal movement with the drone in flight.
How to adjust the gimbal settings
The gimbal settings can be adjusted for all modes to help the pilot achieve the video capture and flying style they are looking for.
There are two gimbal modes: FPV Mode and Follow Mode.
1. FPV Mode
In FPV or first-person view mode, the gimbal stays locked to the movement of the drone. This means your camera will tilt and pan relative to the orientation of your drone.
This creates a first-person view as if you are actually in the drone piloting it. The gimbal still helps stabilize the camera in this mode but maintains its orientation to that of the drone.
2. Follow Mode
In Follow mode, the gimbal maintains a level position or remains horizontally fixed when the aircraft is pitching, rolling, and yawing.
In doing this, there is some fluidity to the direction changes of the camera. It catches up with the drone whenever quick movements are made at a smoother rate.
The gimbal also does this in normal and sport modes, but results are best achieved in cine mode.
Ultimately, the style of footage you are looking for will dictate if or how much you need to adjust the gimbal settings. This will take some time, practice, and adjustments to dial in, but the great thing is that it is all up to you and your preferences as the pilot.
Here’s a summary of how you modify those settings on the DJI Mini 2:
- Once your remote and drone are powered on and connected, tap the settings icon on the remote control screen (3 dots in the upper right).
- Tap the Control tab at the top of this screen to access the control settings.
- Scroll down and tap the Advanced Gimbal Settings tab.
- On this screen are 3 sections, allowing you to modify the settings for each mode.
- Scroll down to the Cine Mode to view and change the settings
- Pitch Speed adjusts how quickly the gimbal rotates when manually tilting it with the wheel.
- Pitch smoothness adjusts how the gimbal eases in or stops when changing its rotation.
- Yaw Rotation Speed adjusts how quickly the drone rotates when the sticks are pushed.
- Yaw Smoothness adjusts how smoothly the drone stops in the desired direction.
Sample settings to capture smoother video footage
DJI provides default values. You can always reset all the settings you change by clicking the link at the bottom of the page.
There are no exact ideal settings for capturing cinematic footage. That is something that you will tailor to your style of flying and what you want your video footage to look like.
But, many drone videographers will have settings close to the following.
- Pitch Speed set to 10°/s.
This creates a slow gimbal rotation up and down with the wheel control on the remote control.
The wheel allows for fine adjustment and variable speed, but keeping this setting low will help limit the speed and provide a little more forgiveness when adjusting it.
- Pitch Smoothness set to 20.
This will soften the rotation start and stop points to create a more natural tilt effect.
- Yaw Rotation Speed set to 30°/s.
This will limit the maximum rotation speed that affects panning shots.
With this setting, you can push the stick all the way for more consistency without sacrificing a smooth capture or creating too much blur.
- Yaw Smoothness set to 20.
This adds softness to the yaw control of the drone when starting and stopping its rotation.
This reduces sudden camera movements and results in fluid footage.
Over time and with practice, you will find what works best for you. A lot of the fun of flying drones and capturing your own video footage is the flexibility to experiment and try new things.
DJI has given pilots the tools they need to do just that, so don’t hesitate to tweak these settings until you find what works for the scene you are capturing.