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Chasing a windsurfer... would you do this with a Spark?

JoostGT3

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Nov 9, 2017
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Netherlands
Hi all,
Last weekend, I was out windsurfing with a friend of mine. After a while, I decided to exchange board for drone and tried filming my friend while he was out on his board.
As there was nobody else on the lake, I was flying low. Because my friend was sometimes (gusty winds) going more than 50km/h, I was flying in sports mode all the time, and often a couple of hundred meters out...

To me, it was a really magical experience, as it was so cool being able to fly next to my friend at full speed, low above the water, and keeping him in sight (more or less), but it was also nerve wreckingly scar every now and then. Now, I filmed this with my Mavic Pro, and I was absolutely stunned with the reliability, but cost-wise, I would be much happier doing this kind of stuff with a Spark, rather than with the Mavic (The day after, I nearly drowned my Mavic when I tried to get some extra shots and was flying full speed at about 50cm above the water... :-0 )

Would you guys do this kind of filming with a Spark? Do you feel it would be up to the task (fast, low, accurate, distance)? I keep looking for classifieds for the Spark, but still not sure if it would be something I would really use, or just something that I really want, but end up disappointed with when I finally get it...

Oh, btw, here's the footage! Feedback appreciated! I'm quite proud with some of the shots, especially considering how difficult it was to fly smoothly when in sports mode, low, fast, nervous and on collision course with the subject... :-D

 

Bob Radford

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Jan 29, 2018
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First of all I love windsurfing. It seems no one is doing it anymore, I just sold all of my gear, great shots, this is a great way to show the capabilities of the Mavik. I would do the same with my Spark, but the quality of video would be nothing like this. In sport mode the gimbal would not stay level, your horizon would keep tilting, you will not get the same dramatic high speed passes, but you would still get some amazing shots.
 
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willardsSpark

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Apr 1, 2018
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IMO, the Spark is not up to the task for fast paced action videos. It is much slower, has less flight time, and its 2 axis gimbal will make the shots far too jerky and unnatural. The Spark is a great little drone for less action packed videos.
 
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JoostGT3

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Nov 9, 2017
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Netherlands
First of all I love windsurfing. It seems no one is doing it anymore, I just sold all of my gear, great shots, this is a great way to show the capabilities of the Mavik. I would do the same with my Spark, but the quality of video would be nothing like this. In sport mode the gimbal would not stay level, your horizon would keep tilting, you will not get the same dramatic high speed passes, but you would still get some amazing shots.

Thanks for the reply mate! I’m not very good at windsurfing myself, but my buddy always mentions how utterly relaxed it makes him feel (hence the name of the movie)

Don’t overestimate the capabilities of the Mavic gimball btw; no way the horizon is staying level if you’re going to vary your sideways speed... I had to do a lot of correcting in post.

I’m looking forward to seeing some of your Spark footage btw!
 

JoostGT3

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Nov 9, 2017
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207
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Netherlands
IMO, the Spark is not up to the task for fast paced action videos. It is much slower, has less flight time, and its 2 axis gimbal will make the shots far too jerky and unnatural. The Spark is a great little drone for less action packed videos.

Thanks for your reply! I am guessing the battery life in this case would be the most limiting factor; most of the time I had to fly out at full speed in sportsmode to overtake my buddy, then position for a nice composition and make the shot, only to find out that the wind had dropped...

As for the gimball... is the 2-axis really that jerky with sideways movements? In the beginning there were a lot of comments about that also for the Mavic. I dialled down the setting on sideways stick input (EXP? GAIN?), which makes it a bit better controlable. Can you do the same with the Spark?
 

elmar

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Oct 26, 2017
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The wind force is the main problem. Last week I wanted to test my spark how much wind it can handle. It was wind with force 4. I took off and cruised around with no issues or shakes that the gimbal can't handle. The problem was when I was flying back against wind. Switched to sport mode and was coming back with some effort yes. Then I decided to press the return to home button ( a very big mistake in my case) and it began to increase the altitude to 30m. At that point the wind took it the opposite way around 100m far but then it managed to come back with very little power in battery. I thought it was not going to make it. My lesson is not to underestimate to power of the wind and the spark is not ideal for these situations although you can still do it but you are risking it.
 

Kevin Kirby

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Jan 9, 2018
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I have taken some video in sport mode and it is true the gimbal can't always keep up. However, what I've noticed is it does okay if your speed is relatively constant. The problem only occurs with jackrabbit stops and starts, snap turns at full throttle, and gusts of wind over 20. Smooth is the key, then I think you could get that video at 30mph. While I agree the Mavic Pro would be better suited for the task, I would love the challenge of shooting that with my Spark! Also, I have flown it at full speed, about 1 foot above the water. I was nervous as hell, but the water was very calm and the footage was exciting. ...and I only did it for about 20 seconds.
 

JoostGT3

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Nov 9, 2017
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Netherlands
The wind force is the main problem. Last week I wanted to test my spark how much wind it can handle. It was wind with force 4. I took off and cruised around with no issues or shakes that the gimbal can't handle. The problem was when I was flying back against wind. Switched to sport mode and was coming back with some effort yes. Then I decided to press the return to home button ( a very big mistake in my case) and it began to increase the altitude to 30m. At that point the wind took it the opposite way around 100m far but then it managed to come back with very little power in battery. I thought it was not going to make it. My lesson is not to underestimate to power of the wind and the spark is not ideal for these situations although you can still do it but you are risking it.

Ooof, that must have been a brown pants moment! As for myself, even when the Mavic wants to come home due to low battery, most of the time I fly it back manually. What I normally do is try to fly back in a straight line and in a constant descent, hoping that the descending makes for less battery consumption. The effect that you mentioned; due to the friction with the earth's surface *most of the times* the wind is less strong at the surface than it is higher up... so if you need to struggle against the wind, drop it down as low as you can, and fly back in a straight line.
 

JoostGT3

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Nov 9, 2017
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207
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Netherlands
I have taken some video in sport mode and it is true the gimbal can't always keep up. However, what I've noticed is it does okay if your speed is relatively constant. The problem only occurs with jackrabbit stops and starts, snap turns at full throttle, and gusts of wind over 20. Smooth is the key, then I think you could get that video at 30mph. While I agree the Mavic Pro would be better suited for the task, I would love the challenge of shooting that with my Spark! Also, I have flown it at full speed, about 1 foot above the water. I was nervous as hell, but the water was very calm and the footage was exciting. ...and I only did it for about 20 seconds.
Whoa, that sounds like awesome footage! I did that the day after most of these shots were taken. I was back in the same spot because I wanted to take some extra shots of the landscape in case I needed them for editing the surfing movie. I was flying low and fast, when I notice the drone was slowly descending... because I was flying at about 50cm, I quickly ascended, because it became a bit too critical for me.

As regarding the smoothness... I always try to fly as smoothly as I can. Yesterday, I flew the drone around a bit and then got in the car to drive home, and I noticed that I was still in the smooth mode, trying to make my car steering and throttle inputs as smooth as possible! Hahaha weird experience.
 

Bob Radford

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Jan 29, 2018
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Thanks for the reply mate! I’m not very good at windsurfing myself, but my buddy always mentions how utterly relaxed it makes him feel (hence the name of the movie)

Don’t overestimate the capabilities of the Mavic gimball btw; no way the horizon is staying level if you’re going to vary your sideways speed... I had to do a lot of correcting in post.

I’m looking forward to seeing some of your Spark footage btw!
I have no experience with a Mavik, just assuming it is on par with Phantom and Inspire, I do a lot of shooting with them. Unfortunately it is for commercial purposes and I am not able to share. Good editing, the video looks great!
 
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soapbrain

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Feb 15, 2018
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25
Wow. I appreciate all the input here I learned a lot!

I was just planning to do this (shoot windsurfing with a spark) soon! seems like I have to take special note of wind force. I was planning to use activetrack to follow the surfer, with mild adjustments with the remote as it rotates. thank you for your comments

let's see what comes of it!
 

JoostGT3

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Nov 9, 2017
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Netherlands
Wow. I appreciate all the input here I learned a lot!

I was just planning to do this (shoot windsurfing with a spark) soon! seems like I have to take special note of wind force. I was planning to use activetrack to follow the surfer, with mild adjustments with the remote as it rotates. thank you for your comments

let's see what comes of it!
Good luck, and looking forward to hearing your experiences! I might have another go at it Friday, and in that case will also do some more trials with active track.
 

JoostGT3

Well-Known Member
Join
Nov 9, 2017
Messages
207
Loc
Netherlands
Wow. I appreciate all the input here I learned a lot!

I was just planning to do this (shoot windsurfing with a spark) soon! seems like I have to take special note of wind force. I was planning to use activetrack to follow the surfer, with mild adjustments with the remote as it rotates. thank you for your comments

let's see what comes of it!
And? Did you get around to filming windsurfers with the Spark?
I just finished my second windsurfing video. This time, I did have both my Spark and my Mavic Pro available, but chose to leave the Spark in the bag; winds were quite high and gusty, and due to the kite surfers around, I had to fly quite far out.... so, maybe next time I'll try with the Spark! :)

 

Richard Ruckert

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Sep 4, 2017
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Sure, Whoever' video that was kept a respectable distance... no risk to the athletes
I didn't think it was Spark because of the smooth yaw.

I used to windsurf. the sails looked to 6.5M2 to 7.5M2, and being that the boards were not sinkers, based on the beach start technique, I guessstimate the wind to be about 20mph to 25mph

Kite surfers have less drag on the water, so they can do more with the same wind.

fun video..took me back to a time.
 

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