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Aerial 360 video with MA2 + Insta360 One X2 + bracket + Oculus Quest 2

Thmoore

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Having conquered "dropping items via parachute from my Mavic Air 2," I have had a lot of fun over the last week stringing a few new toys together, and I thought the group might like to hear about it.

The combination of the Mavic Air 2, a 360-degree camera (in my case, an Insta360 One X2), and a bracket to strap those two things together creates some incredibly striking immersive videos when viewed on an Oculus Quest 2 headset.

The bracket, tailor-made for the MA2, is $16.89 on Amazon:

MA2-underbelly-bracket.png

You don't have to hold it with your hand – it will fly on its own.

It's a nice piece of work. It looks like it's 3-D printed, but it's above-average construction. I think I may snap it in half one of these days putting it on or taking it off, but it does not look like it would fail in mid-flight:

bracket.JPG

The camera hangs from the shaft hanging from that screw on the bottom, but note that there's also a 0.5" screw up top, so you could conceivably bolt two cameras onto your MA2 at a time.

The shaft includes some nifty small white shock absorbers to insulate the camera from the drone's vibrations:

hanger.jpg

(there's a 0.5" screw you can't see on the bottom of that, to the right...) One thing to note is that the bracket comes totally unassembled, with no instructions, and you have to take your best guess at how its 14+ pieces go together. The photos on the Amazon item page are helpful.

The MA2 flies pretty well with all this hanging from its belly. The bracket weighs 35g and the camera weighs 151g for a total of 186g, much less than the 350g DJI-recommended maximum load, and a tiny fraction of the MA2's 830g real-world maximum lifting capacity.

The camera swings a little, but not too much, and only front and back, and it doesn't look like it's possible for the camera to ever hit a prop. You're not going to want to pull to a sudden stop in Sport Mode, but if you can keep the movements reasonably gradual, you are likely to (b) keep the drone from crashing and (b) keep your audience from throwing up when they watch your movie.

The Insta360's camera is as well-stabilized as the aircraft's. Once you pull the video from the Insta360's camera, you can process it in the phone app, but you lose a lot of resolution and control. You have to run it through Insta360's stitching software to get the full resolution (5.7k, or 5760 x 2880, which sounds more impressive than it is, because those pixels have to cover 360 degrees around three axes).

Here are a few tests:

This is the most finished one I have so far. The drone has been removed from the top of the shot in Final Cut Pro, and pretty music has been added:

The drone is still in the top of the shot in this one, but it has pretty music:

This video is in the process of uploading to YouTube. I haven't surgically removed the drone from the video yet, or modified the sound. Thought you guys might like to see a pretty raw version. All you can hear is the drone, occasionally muffled by the camera's noise cancellation:

These look pretty cool on a phone or computer screen, but on an Oculus, they are totally immersive and stunning. You are there. If you 'subscribe' to these videos on YouTube on your computer or phone, you can pull them up in the YouTubeVR app on the Oculus.

The effect is so stunning that I think DJI will be building 360-degree cameras into its drones sooner rather than later.

Hope this is helpful.

Tom
 
I have an old Samsung Gear360 laying around - Just purchased the bracket from amazon.

Going to give it a shot.

Thanks for posting and giving me a new idea.
 
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Interesting. Thanks for posting. Have you had any problems with the drone vibrating during flight? Motors overheating? I've seen a few reports of those problems with a camera suspended below the drone.
 
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None! It's definitely feeling the weight, and I imagine my flight time drops pretty dramatically, but it works nicely. The 360 camera isn't super-happy about stabilizing everything, but the footage is pretty good.

This was a 10+ minute flight that was edited down:


The drone was not gasping for battery when it flew back home after wrapping the shot.

I will note this: When I tested a major variation on the theme, and suspended the camera from that bracket PLUS a selfie stick, in the hopes of getting the drone further away and thus less prominent in the top of the videos, the 360 camera + selfie stick turned into a pendulum, swinging increasingly out of control until the whole thing crashed. It did not destroy the drone, but only because it was at a pretty low altitude. I've had no issues like that with just the bracket.
 
Having conquered "dropping items via parachute from my Mavic Air 2," I have had a lot of fun over the last week stringing a few new toys together, and I thought the group might like to hear about it.

The combination of the Mavic Air 2, a 360-degree camera (in my case, an Insta360 One X2), and a bracket to strap those two things together creates some incredibly striking immersive videos when viewed on an Oculus Quest 2 headset.

The bracket, tailor-made for the MA2, is $16.89 on Amazon:


You don't have to hold it with your hand – it will fly on its own.

It's a nice piece of work. It looks like it's 3-D printed, but it's above-average construction. I think I may snap it in half one of these days putting it on or taking it off, but it does not look like it would fail in mid-flight:


The camera hangs from the shaft hanging from that screw on the bottom, but note that there's also a 0.5" screw up top, so you could conceivably bolt two cameras onto your MA2 at a time.

The shaft includes some nifty small white shock absorbers to insulate the camera from the drone's vibrations:


(there's a 0.5" screw you can't see on the bottom of that, to the right...) One thing to note is that the bracket comes totally unassembled, with no instructions, and you have to take your best guess at how its 14+ pieces go together. The photos on the Amazon item page are helpful.

The MA2 flies pretty well with all this hanging from its belly. The bracket weighs 35g and the camera weighs 151g for a total of 186g, much less than the 350g DJI-recommended maximum load, and a tiny fraction of the MA2's 830g real-world maximum lifting capacity.

The camera swings a little, but not too much, and only front and back, and it doesn't look like it's possible for the camera to ever hit a prop. You're not going to want to pull to a sudden stop in Sport Mode, but if you can keep the movements reasonably gradual, you are likely to (b) keep the drone from crashing and (b) keep your audience from throwing up when they watch your movie.

The Insta360's camera is as well-stabilized as the aircraft's. Once you pull the video from the Insta360's camera, you can process it in the phone app, but you lose a lot of resolution and control. You have to run it through Insta360's stitching software to get the full resolution (5.7k, or 5760 x 2880, which sounds more impressive than it is, because those pixels have to cover 360 degrees around three axes).

Here are a few tests:

This is the most finished one I have so far. The drone has been removed from the top of the shot in Final Cut Pro, and pretty music has been added:

The drone is still in the top of the shot in this one, but it has pretty music:

This video is in the process of uploading to YouTube. I haven't surgically removed the drone from the video yet, or modified the sound. Thought you guys might like to see a pretty raw version. All you can hear is the drone, occasionally muffled by the camera's noise cancellation:

These look pretty cool on a phone or computer screen, but on an Oculus, they are totally immersive and stunning. You are there. If you 'subscribe' to these videos on YouTube on your computer or phone, you can pull them up in the YouTubeVR app on the Oculus.

The effect is so stunning that I think DJI will be building 360-degree cameras into its drones sooner rather than later.

Hope this is helpful.

Tom
Does the Insta360 provide the view/angle control in the final video? Is that something that is exported with the video out of the insta360 software?
 
The camera hangs from the shaft hanging from that screw on the bottom, but note that there's also a 0.5" screw up top, so you could conceivably bolt two cameras onto your MA2 at a time.

(there's a 0.5" screw you can't see on the bottom of that, to the right...)

In case anyone is heading for the hardware store to get parts to cobble up a bracket, that's a 1/4-20 fitting (1/4", 20 threads per inch) on the camera and on the bracket, same as standard camera and tripod hardware. (Larger, heavier pro-style gear uses 3/8-16.)
 
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Does the Insta360 provide the view/angle control in the final video? Is that something that is exported with the video out of the insta360 software?
All of this is Insta360 video. I did not do any fiddling with the view or angle control, although you can in the Insta360 software.
 
Does the Insta360 provide the view/angle control in the final video? Is that something that is exported with the video out of the insta360 software?

The functionality to pan around the 360-degree image is built into the image. The user just clicks on a point and drags the view to move around the image. You can upload them to Youtube.

The Insta360 Studio software (free download) allows you to create normal "flat" videos from the 360-degree videos the camera produces. You can select the direction and field of view.

This video on youtube is what prompted my interest in 360-degree cameras.

 
In case anyone is heading for the hardware store to get parts to cobble up a bracket, that's a 1/4-20 fitting (1/4", 20 threads per inch) on the camera and on the bracket, same as standard camera and tripod hardware. (Larger, heavier pro-style gear uses 3/8-16.)
Hey, thank you for that, Yes, it's a 1/4" screw, not .5" as I inexplicably said in the original post. I'll see if I can edit that.
 
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