In this new series of posts, we will be looking into DJI's intelligent flight modes to learn why they its exist and how or when to use them. This article contains some affiliate links which helps Dronemade keep free and power ever more drone resources to you.
ActiveTrack was a real success and is until today a really good reason for buying drones made by DJI. Have you ever tried to film somebody (or yourself) while doing an activity? It is really not easy to have the person or the object in the middle of the picture, especially if you change the speed or the direction.
What is DJI Active Track mode?
The DJI ActiveTrack flight mode started with the Phantom 4. It was designed to give you an easier and safer mode to realise cinema grade shots with your drone. Its objective is pretty simple, choose your subject to film such as a car, a horse or anything moving really, press on your screen and the camera locks in position following your subject.
While tracking your filming subject, your drone will use its vision and sensing systems to maintain safe flight (not available on all drones), letting you focus more on getting the right shot. Since its release in 2016, it became a staple of the DJI App and equipped every drone model released since - find out which ones
How does DJI Active Track mode work?
To work properly, you will need to enable your drone's P-mode (Positioning mode) which is your standard/default flight mode. In this mode, all the sensors on your drone are active, GPS and any available vision or infrared sensors. This results in precise hovering of your drone, even if you stop controlling it with your remote controller. The Active Track intelligent flight mode requires a strong GPS signal which is only available under this P-mode.
Once you’re in ActiveTrack mode, go ahead and tap or draw a box around the subject onscreen while using DJI GO 4 app or DJI Fly app. 💡 Try your best to include the whole subject within the box, while keeping out as much of the background as possible. This will help maintain the most accurate tracking of your subject.
What are DJI Active Track mode options?
Once your subject is selected and recognized, you can begin using the powerful feature for making creative, cinematic footage. When choosing this intelligent flight mode, consider that you have 3 options to choose from:
Your drone will follow your chosen target as it moves, maintaining a distance that you set. You’re still be able to move your drone and its camera around your filming subject using your remote controller.
Your drone will fly in front of your filming subject, staying at the set distance. Like Trace Mode, you can also circle the subject using the remote controller.
Active Track Spotlight
In this mode, your drone will keep the camera on the subject but allows you to move the drone as anywhere you want.
🚨 Note, not all drones will feature every option, depending on their release year and integrated features.
How to use DJI Active Track mode?
We've been using this mode quite a bit for our recent aerial movies. We find this mode specially useful when on a road trip following our car, bike or when playing sports for example.
🌊 When filming over water, this is a little easier although make sure you allow enough battery time for a safe landing. Too often, we let our drone flight in Active Track mode to be reminded a few minutes before of the low battery levels. 💡 Smart! Water glare is a killer when flying above coastal waters, make sure you have a lens filter.
🚗 When following any vehicle in movement, make sure to be a safe distance from others and/or surrounding infrastructure. It can be very unexpected for other drivers to see a drone coming their way and the last thing you want is to distract another driver for example.
🏄♀️ The Active Track mode is perfect for outdoor sports. Never worry about keeping the surfer in our lens anymore, film yourself paddling down the river or running as fast as you can (Let's be honest, we've tried to outrun our drone and failed). ActiveTrack will recognize and keep up to give you an action shot all your friends and social media fans will love!
What to be aware of when using DJI Active Track mode?
Remember, ActiveTrack only works in P-mode, which is considerably slower than Sport mode. For example, the Mavic Pro can reach 40 mph in S mode but is limited to 22 mph in P-mode. Make sure that the subject you want to keep up with is moving within the drone’s P-mode speed.
The way Active Track is able to identify and follow its subject is by colour contrast between the subject and background. This means that the greater the colour difference, the better Active Track performs. Make sure that your subject is wearing clothing that helps them stick out of the environment. For example, if your friend is snowboarding, a red outfit will do much better than a white one.
If your subject gets out of view during filming, such as enters a tunnel or group of trees, your drone will do its best to relocate the subject when they pop back into view. However, if the subject is out of site for too long, the drone could “lose” sight of it. If this happens, re-select the subject to resume tracking.
While filming in Active Track mode, your drone will use its sensors to estimate its surroundings. Note that some models only have front sensors whilst others will feature side and below sensors to help the drone avoid obstacles. In every case, try to fly in a clear area at all times.
Which drones have DJI Active Track mode?
The following drones all feature DJI's active track intelligent flight mode:
Phantom 4 Advanced
Mavic Pro Alpine White
We hope this little intro helped you understand a more about this intelligent flight mode. If you want to learn more, check out all our tutorials and become an expert. If you're considering buying your first drone or upgrading your current one online, then feel free to click on our Affiliate links below before you do so. We will get a small commission and will be able to keep on powering more free content to you.