Orbit: Get insane drone shots without going insane

You may have heard the popular myth that only the insane can draw a perfect circle by hand. Or that trying to do it will drive you insane. Or that it’s actually impossible to draw one freehand (it’s not). Or the legend that Michelangelo drew one for the Pope to earn the commission to paint the Sistine Chapel (it was actually Giotto and Saint Peter’s).

All mythology aside, it’s really, really hard to draw a perfect circle without some trickery.

Luckily, 3DR specializes in trickery.

Nothing’s impossible — except maybe manually flying a drone in a perfect, steady circle while keeping the camera faced on a fixed central point. Ask any cinema pilot: It takes a lot of experience to even approximate one of these smooth, steady wraparound shots, or even a section of one — especially if you’re flying by yourself without a second operator to work the camera. Several things stand in the way: shaky thumbs, nerves, environmental conditions, coordinating the camera’s pan with the copter’s arc, etc.

With Orbit, however, we’ve eliminated all of these variables by putting all the skill into Solo’s computer, making it easy for anyone, even a brand new user, to capture an iconic wraparound shot.

Other drones can Orbit. However: What’s even more tricky, though — and what other drones can’t do — we’ve made a perfect circle elastic.

More than just an Orbit drone

So sure, Solo can automatically circle any object of your choosing while keeping the camera pointed in at the center. But right in the app, you can adjust the circle’s radius in real time to get the exact frame you want — even make these adjustments midflight for more sophisticated shots. You can also adjust altitude through the app as you fly.

And you can adjust them both at once — this gives you real time control over incredible corkscrewing shots, where Solo controls camera pointing so you’re always focused on your subject. Because other drones can’t control the camera in this way, these shots are not only mindblowing, but also inimitable: 5-axis shots, captured automatically. Check out the video below for a great example.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/gcnYYgljs-s

Now 1/3 of your mobile screen becomes an overhead map view — similar to Google maps — so you can see geographically exactly where Solo’s camera is locked. If you need to, you can adjust this location up or down with your finger to make sure the camera is looking exactly where you want. The copter itself is on a virtual track, locked into a circle around the object. The radius of this circle is defined by how far away you were when you first entered Orbit mode. Now moving the left stick right and left will make Solo orbit to the right or left around the lighthouse while the gimbal works to keep it perfectly in frame.

Or just tap “play” on the app and Solo will do it all for you — both the flying and the camerawork — with you adjusting the speed, altitude and radius.

With Solo humming along automatically, you’re free to just play with radius and altitude — not only can you create these amazingly cool and brand new corkscrew shots (which we call “spiral” mode), but it’s a ton of fun to shoot with. You can improvise, create new motion and action as you go. Solo is a full-on video system, with the computer controlling the gimbal and the camera direction, so you don’t ever have to worry about what you’re going to be looking at.

Plus it’s super easy: Simply move the stick forward and back to increase/decrease the radius of the circle, increase or decrease the altitude of Solo with the altitude stick on the controller (the gimbal will automatically adjust its tilt angle to keep your “point of focus” centered in the frame). You can even change the altitude of the “point of focus” (the center of your circle) by simply adjusting gimbal tilt with the paddle on the controller’s left shoulder.

These additional features are unique to Solo, thanks to its computer processing power. Now you can use your drone as a storytelling device: React to the moment and to elements coming in and out of the frame; or, choose when to make your own reveals and bring elements in and out of the frame.

Now you’re capturing incredibly dynamic and steady wraparound, spiraling shots with no uneven or jerky movements. Insane shots without going insane.

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