Similar to existing 3D animation apps that provide smart camera controls to help position a virtual camera in an animation scene, the drone software Horus provides pilots with tools that allow them to plan a flight and position the camera before lift-off. The interactive app allows users to control the motion of a camera during fight by specifying key frames in a video and assigning the proper camera orientation for each frame. The app also takes the physical limitations of the drone into account when it plans a flight, allowing the user to capture the best shot while still keeping the drone in the air.
Unlike existing flight planning tools that use a map-based view, the Stanford app provides a 3D camera preview of the footage and a 2D map of the flight to help users preview their video in Google Earth.”The real video footage is faithful to the virtual preview shown in our app,” said app co-creator Mike Roberts to Engadget. “The workflow is similar to how an animator at Pixar might set up a camera path for an animated movie.”
Drone photography professionals may disagree, but the Stanford team believes the tool has the potential to make pre-scripted aerial cinematography available to novice drone operators. “There are a hundred problems that our app doesn’t solve,” says Roberts. “But for the domain of pre-scripted aerial cinematography, we’ve made a step forward. You can use our app to express yourself and you don’t have to know how to fly a drone to do it.”