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How Close Can Drone Follow an Active Tracked Subject?


New Member
Nov 27, 2023
Los Angeles
I'm looking into buying a Mini 4 Pro, partially for music videos. How close can you get to a subject using active track? Whats the minimum focus distance? Could you get any cinematic pans of a subject where you can actually see details of their face and it's not super far away? I'm wanting to film myself using active track, also can you use active track indoors well (not a place with a ton of obstacles, very open room but is it able to track a subject indoors?) I've heard some people say it can do this and some say it can't, here's a video I found of someone active tracking with a Mavic Air 2 indoors:

He's also in a pretty crowded warehouse whereas I'd be in an open room free of obstacles. If it's not possible to use the obstacle avoidance, could I use active track without it and instead just use the propeller guard for safety? I know there are also third party apps like Litchi which enable drones without obstacle avoidance to use tracking features, so could that help me achieve this?

thanks :)
Greetings from Birmingham Alabama USA, welcome to the forum! We look forward to hearing from you!

I have never had the need to use a drone indoors. I use a DLSR or GoPro for indoors video work.
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You might get better responses if you specified actual distances and descriptors rather than "not super far away" and "with a ton of obstacles."
Here's a screencap from a music video example, close enough to make out details of face, perhaps 5 feet from the subject. Like this sort of frame/distance while panning etc
I'm guessing that there is a certain distance for tracking just to give the drone the ability to react and compute the motion. The only sure way to know is to try it, then post the results of your test here.
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Some buildings( not every one) prevent GPS signal from reaching you if you are inside, in which case the drone cannot take off to begin with...also you don't get any audio with drones, so you would have to get that aspect using different equipment
You may be looking at the wrong tool for the job. You mention 'close to subject' and 'cinematic pans' - neither of which will a consumer drone do using active track unless you're okay with mediocre results. Not to mention all the pitfalls you will discover along the way trying to launch a drone, set up active track and everything else your going to do on camera.

I take it you want the camera in the sky (hence a drone) high angle shot, but when you say close, that brings into the realm of ground based tools.

Look into camera following devices. You can find single axis (panning) followers that use a cell phone that cost under 200 dollars or get into multi axis/function followers for not much more than a drone.

Personally, if it were me and I wanted to get fluid dynamic shots of a human subject, I would use a dedicated camera on a three axis gimbal with a camera operator and a drone would be my last resort.
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My first thought when he said close proximity, active track, and indoors. I would not want a drone flying 5 feet from my face indoors with the drone flying autonomously. If he is flying in ATTI mode, or if he is not in ATTI mode and loses the GPS signal and it goes into ATTI mode, you do not know what reaction the drone will be taking. And with five feet in front of someone's face, you will not have a fast enough reaction time to stop the drone from running into the subjects face should it decide to fly in that direction. A very bad result.
As mentioned above there are many other camera options to achieve the desired result.
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This is going to be tough with the Mini 4 Pro given it's wide-angle lens.

The Air 3 is a much better solution, as it has dual cameras, one telephoto, and supports Active Track with both cameras. The telephoto camera will allow capturing details like a face, without having to be that close.

Here are the supported ranges for Active Track for the Mini 4 Pro and the Air 3 from their respective user manuals.

Mini 4 Pro:

Air 3:
Thanks for all the replies!
As I mentioned this is only a partial use-case for the drone, I still certainly want to purchase it. I was just hoping I could additionally use this for that purpose, rather than also getting a motorized slider or some sort of tracking mechanism for my mirrorless camera. I do wonder though if I could get close enough, this is a drone thats getting the types of shots I mean (though it's a much lower quality image) and I could use the prop guards for additional safety as well

Even if the software limitations set by DJI don't allow it, I wonder if they can be overruled by one of the third party apps like Litchi. Here's a video where a guy having a Mavic Mini track him very up close

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