AI News, Camera-equipped drones preserve framing when shooting video

Camera-equipped drones preserve framing when shooting video

Those shots required separate operators for the drones and the cameras, and careful planning to avoid collisions.

At the International Conference on Robotics and Automation later this month, the researchers will present a system that allows a director to specify a shot's framing -- which figures or faces appear where, at what distance.

In the picture With the new system, the user can specify how much of the screen a face or figure should occupy, what part of the screen it should occupy, and what the subject's orientation toward the camera should be -- straight on, profile, three-quarter view from either side, or over the shoulder.

The key to the system, Alonso-Mora explains, is that it continuously estimates the velocities of all of the moving objects in the drone's environment and projects their locations a second or two into the future.

This buys it a little time to compute optimal flight trajectories and also ensures that it can get recover smoothly if the drone needs to take evasive action to avoid collision.

In one set of experiments, the subjects actively tried to collide with the drone, marching briskly toward it as it attempted to keep them framed within the shot.

MIT researchers develop a drone system that can do a camera operator’s job

Shooting professional quality video with a drone is not an easy task, and often requires multiple human operators.

The group calls the system “real-time motion planning for aerial videography,” and it lets a director define basic parameters of a shot, like how tight or how wide the frame should be, or the position of the subject within that frame.

While a few consumer drones like the DJI Mavic Pro already have object recognition and tracking, MIT’s project sets itself apart by adding in more robust versions of those technologies and a vast amount of granular control.

It’s a cool idea that’s both reminiscent and seemingly a natural extension of the virtual camera work that directors like James Cameron helped pioneer and others (like Gareth Edwards and Lucasfilm) have been using ever since.

Cinematography on the fly

In recent years, a host of Hollywood blockbusters — including “The Fast and the Furious 7,” “Jurassic World,” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” — have included aerial tracking shots provided by drone helicopters outfitted with cameras.

At the International Conference on Robotics and Automation later this month, the researchers will present a system that allows a director to specify a shot’s framing — which figures or faces appear where, at what distance.

In the picture With the new system, the user can specify how much of the screen a face or figure should occupy, what part of the screen it should occupy, and what the subject’s orientation toward the camera should be — straight on, profile, three-quarter view from either side, or over the shoulder.

The key to the system, Alonso-Mora explains, is that it continuously estimates the velocities of all of the moving objects in the drone’s environment and projects their locations a second or two into the future.

This buys it a little time to compute optimal flight trajectories and also ensures that it can get recover smoothly if the drone needs to take evasive action to avoid collision.

In one set of experiments, the subjects actively tried to collide with the drone, marching briskly toward it as it attempted to keep them framed within the shot.

MIT drone camera can move around to get the right angle

According to the researchers, as long as the drone's information about its environment is accurate, the system also guarantees that it won't collide with stationary or moving obstacles.  'There are other efforts to do autonomous filming with one drone,' says Dr Daniela Rus, a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT and a senior author on the new paper.  'They can follow someone, but if the subject turns, say 180 degrees, the drone will end up showing the back of the subject.  'With our solution, if the subject turns 180 degrees, our drones are able to circle around and keep focus on the face.  'We are able to specify richer higher-level constraints for the drones.  'The drones then map the high-level specifications into control and we end up with greater levels of interaction between the drones and the subjects.' With the new drone system, users can specify how much of the screen a face or figure should occupy, what part of the screen it should occupy and what the camera's orientation towards the subject should be - straight on, profile, over the shoulder or other orientations.  These specifications can be set separately for a different number of subjects - for example, in tests with the drone, the researchers framed up to three subjects at a time.  The researchers say that maintaining the specified framing is usually approximate - unless the subjects or actors are extremely well choreographed, distances between them, as well as their orientation and distance from obstacles will vary, so meeting all these constraints at the same time is impossible.  However, the user can specify how different constraints should be weighed against each other and which should take priority.  For example, maintaining an actors' location in the frame may be more of a priority than maintaining a specific distance.  According to Dr Javier Alonso-Mora, an assistant professor of robotics at the Delft University of Technology and a co-author of the research, what allows the system to do this is it its ability to continuously estimate the speeds of all the moving obstacles in its environment, and predict their location a second or two into the future.

MIT Develops Drone That Frames the Perfect Shot While Avoiding Objects

In their work with ETH Zurich, MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have developed a drone that simplifies aerial tracking by removing humans almost entirely from the equation. Aerial

director can use the system to specify the viewing angle, screen position and size of the target’s face on the screen, and the camera-equipped drone will stay locked on using those parameters while also avoiding obstacles.

The demo video shows how the drone deals with multiple actors moving through a scene, anticipating the collision and dodging out of the way while keeping the subject perfectly framed in shot.

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