September 26, 2017

My Favorite Cinematic Video Settings For DJI Mavic Pro

By: Ben Farnham

So, after much testing, experimentation and overall fly time... I believe I can adequately talk about what I feel the best video settings are for the DJI Mavic Pro. Now, with that said, please understand that while I believe this is a great starting point for most cinematographers / videographers, I don't believe this is a 'one size fits all' solution as there is no perfect cinematic settings. This is just what I use in my workflow and this is what I have found gives the greatest creative freedom in terms of post production. So, without further to do, allow me to share my settings.

Ok, let's just list everything out and if your interested to hear my thought behind it, you can 1) keep reading or 2) just watch the video.

  • I shoot in manual mode
  • ISO set from 100 - 200 (Use PGYTech ND filters for my Mavic Pro)
  • Shutter at 60 (I'll explain why next)
  • 3840 x 2160 (4k) at 30fps
  • .mov (.mp4 works great too, haven't noticed a difference at all)
  • Style - Custom (0, -2, -2)
  • Profile of Cinelike-D
So why these settings?

Well, let's tackle them one by one. It is pretty easy to figure out but still, I am more than happy to explain my logic and with that said, I will try to keep it relatively short.

With shooting in Manual, this gives you the ability to have greater control of your shutter speed so you can have it set to be double the desired cinematic frame rate of 24fps (normally that is 50 shutter speed but I have mine at 60 which I will explain soon). I also strive to keep the ISO as low as possible to keep as much noise out as possible. Now maybe I am crazy but I have noticed a little less noise in the ISO 200 range BUT that could be my shooting conditions. All in all, manual allows you to set your settings to achieve the standard cinematic shutter speed and keep your ISO low for reduced noise in your shots.

For resolution, I am shooting standard 4k (3840 x 2160).

Now, why on earth would I have my frame rate set to 30 rather than the cinema standard of 24fps? Well, this is strictly preference. I like to have the ability to either change the frame rate IN post to the 24fps OR be able to slow down the 30 fps if I need to smooth out the small jitters you might experience in flight. So do you need to shoot 30 fps? No. But it does offer additional creative freedom should you want. IF you want to stick the the desired 24fps then by all means, set your frame rate to 24fps and set your shutter to 50.

For file format I shoot in .mov because it works best for my post production workflow. I have yet to notice ANY difference between .mov and .mp4. I know there are many debates about .mp4 compression but again, haven't noticed any difference at all in my countless comparisons. 

Now with the picture style, this is where I would like to dig in a bit (and I mean only a little bit). So, you will notice right away that I do not turn down my sharpness at all. Why? Well, for some reason the DJI Mavic Pro's reduced sharpness adds this weird 'de-noiser' effect to some of the images shown. I mean it. I was filming over trees a few times and noted it and thought that maybe it was just the angle / light but it proved consistant with every shot. With my sharpness set to -2, I introduced a de-noiser / watercolor effect which is NOT at all what you want when filming. So, I tried -1 and it didn't work either and finally bumped it back to 0 and noticed it went away. So, yes, you do get a sharpened shot with the Mavic Pro BUT it is very malleable and allows you to work with it in post with ease. For the other two (contrast and saturation) I set each to -2 to create a relatively flat image profile so I can inject color and contrast in post.

Finally, for my picture profile, I chose D-Cinelike. Is this the end all be all of picture profiles? No BUT it is what allows me to easily match my GH4's Cinelike-D shots as well. Is this important to you? Well, maybe. If you shoot on a GH4 then yes it is but all in all, what I want you to pull from this is that you need to find what picture profile fits your workflow best. Some may need to use the D-Log that the Mavic has to offer for more dynamic range (a tiny bit more but still it may be worth it) to match their flat profile that they may have on their camera. All in all, D-Cinelike is a perfect hybrid where it offers some additional dynamic range, offers a solid (relatively flat) color profile and doesn't take as much data to write so you aren't potentially introducing more noise in to your shot because of the 60mb write speed.

But, there it is! My cinematic video settings for the DJI Mavic Pro. Hopefully this helps you get started and on your way to creating powerful shots.

 

Benjamin - Teacher At Pure Presence Creative
Post Author

Benjamin (Creative Dork)

I am true nerd to the core, believer in quality design, Horde player, and an all around creative dork. I create films, photos, websites, and music and honestly believe that the saying 'Jack of all trades, master of none' is an excuse. I do what I want really.