Hardly a movie or TV production today is filmed without the use of drones. Chinese drone specialist DJI is bringing two models to the market for just that purpose.Stefan Bordel
DJI presented not just one, but two new camera drones to the public in Los Angeles: the new Inspire 2 model and the professional version of the Phantom 4 drone. Both models are equipped with various flight modes and an anti-collision system.
The Inspire 2 is specifically designed for use in the film industry, which is likely why Los Angeles was chosen for its public launch. The drone can be used to film chase scenes and similar footage, for which the Chinese manufacturer has equipped the quadrotor with a powerful motor that can speed it along at up to 108 kph in horizontal flight. The device climbs at speeds of 6 m/s, and descends at a rate of 4–9 m/s, according to the firm, with a maximum flight time of around 27 minutes. Action-packed images are the result.
This makes the drone quick enough for even the most lightning-paced footage – with the new Spotlight Pro flight mode doing its part to keep the camera focus automatically targeted on a specific object. The drone rotates automatically towards the target, independently of the flight path. Inspire 2 also recognizes objects such as people, motorcycles and other vehicles and automatically follows them with the ActiveTrack function.
TapFly mode uses the drone's internal camera to automatically fly towards a point selected by the user. On its way the drone scans its surroundings and independently avoids obstacles.
The new X4S and X5S Zenmuse video gimbal ensures high-resolution images with 5.2 K resolution at 30 fps or 4 K at 60 fps. And the CineCore 2.0 image processing system now supports the CinemaDNG, Apple ProRes 422 HQ, Pro Res 4444 XQ, H.265 and H.264 video compression formats.
Inspire 2 can be pre-ordered starting from €3,400, with delivery planned in spring 2017. The high-end Inspire Premium Combo model with X5S camera and licenses for CinemaDNG and Apple ProRes commands a price of €6,900.
In appearance, the Phantom 4 Pro looks just like its predecessors. The differences are in the details: The pro version has a camera with a 1" wide, 20 megapixel sensor that records 4K videos at up to 60 fps.
Additional infrared sensors allow the Phantom 4 Pro to recognize flight obstacles automatically in every direction, and circumvent them. The navigation system makes use of six cameras that permanently detect the drone's position, enabling precise maneuvering even without GPS. Complex environments can be navigated independently at speeds of up to 50 kph, promises the manufacturer. The drone generates a 3D map of its surroundings in real time, and uses this data to calculate its route.
The Phantom 4 Pro is available immediately at a price of €1,700, or €2,000 with the new remote control.
The film industry is just one of many examples of how drones are used in professional fields. New applications are added almost daily, from logistics or medicine to testing industrial facilities. The use of drones and other unmanned systems – the official terminology – will be a major focus at CeBIT 2017 in Hall 17.