In this article, we’re going to learn what Active Track is, how to use it and how to achieve the best results possible.
What Is Active Track?
Active Track is one of the new features available on the Phantom 4. It allows you to track subjects automatically (without using a GPS reference) by using advanced image recognition algorithms. You can also use it to effortlessly orbit around subjects. For more info about how Active Track works behind the scenes, check out the Phantom 4 Machine Learning post.
How To Use Active Track
To use Active Track, you will obviously need the DJI Phantom 4, and any capable smartphone or tablet. One thing to note is that you don’t need a good GPS signal to use Active Track. As long as you are less than 30 feet from the ground and in a decently bright environment, it should work just fine.
To Activate Active Track, make sure that the flight mode switch is in position P, then select the Active Track option. Once you are in Active Track mode, tap on the subject that you want to track, and press the Go button when you’re ready. at this point, the Phantom 4 will continue tracking the subject until you tell it to stop. If it loses connection with the controller or gets low on battery, it will automatically return home (just like any other flight mode).
While Active Track is running, it will try to follow the subject that it’s currently tracking. If the subject is moving in a particular direction, the drone will stay behind the subject so that it can sense and avoid obstacles along the way. If there aren’t any obstacles to worry about, you can use the sticks on the Phantom 4 Remote to control the orbital position of the drone around the subject that you’re currently tracking. Using the right control stick, you can push it left and right to rotate the drone around the subject. Pushing the same stick up and down will control how far away the drone is. You can also push the left stick up and down to control the hight of the drone while tracking.
How To Get The Best Results Possible
Active Track is a visual based tracking system, so by keeping that in mind there are a few things you can do to dramatically improve the success rate of your shots.
The first and most important thing to think about when using Active Track is visual line-of-sight. When the Phantom 4 is tracking you, it’s important for it to always see you clearly. What that means is if you’re running and then you go under a bridge for a second or two, it’s not intelligent enough “yet” to know that you will be coming back out from the other side. After it loses the track, it is capable of finding you again if you become visible in a reasonable amount of time, but in general it’s better to just avoid these kinds of situations. Another example would be if it’s tracking you, and then you decide to get in a car. It’s not going to understand that the new object to track is the car (not you).
The next thing you should consider is color. The Phantom 4 has a few different methods that it uses for figuring out what you look like, but it relies heavily on color information. Since most objects in the real world don’t change color randomly, this won’t be a problem in most situations. We humans are vary strange creatures though, so if you’re wearing a blue shirt and then you put on a red shirt a few seconds later, your Phantom 4 will probably be very confused. Problems can also start to occur when the subject you are tracking is very similar in color to it’s surroundings.
It may seem like relying heavily on color information is a bad thing, but it’s actually not. Out of all the parameters that you could keep track of for an object in a frame of video, color information is the least likely to change. The good news is, after learning all of this, you can now start using color to your advantage! If you want to get even better results than average, Try keeping the colors of the subject you want to track in direct contrast to the colors of the background. Even DJI understands this, which is why they have their actors wear bright colorful clothes when they do live demos.
The last thing that you should think about is the relative speed of the object that you want to track. let’s say that you’re filming yourself running in a circle around the Phantom at 13mph and the distance between you and the Phantom is 25 feet. In a situation like this, it’s going to be easy for it to keep you in the frame. At the same time, if you were running at the same speed as before but were only 8 feet away, it probably won’t be able to keep you in the frame. So for really fast moving subjects, Active Track will work better if you stay farther away.