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DJI Osmo Mobile Review for Final Cut Pro X

November 2, 2016 Tags: , , ,
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In this article, read our DJI Osmo Mobile Review and learn how to use it with Final Cut Pro X.

Going Steady

For those of us shooting and editing our own projects, there’s a constant tradeoff between compact, portable (and affordable) production gear and final image results. One production category that has seen a lot of innovation in recent years is camera stabilization— specifically 3-axis automated brushless gimbals.

These devices steady compact cameras (as well as smart phones) to produce incredibly smooth handheld shots, previously requiring a complex and expensive steadicam rig. Here’s a quick working definition from DroneFlyers:

The word gimbal can be used to describe any adjustable camera holder designed to keep the device level. It uses brushless motors (powerful and quiet as well as long lasting) to adjust the position of the camera. 3-axis describes that the camera is adjusted in all directions – up/down, left/right and forward/backward (3 dimensions or, as we call it, the real world).

And here’s a quick demo video to show what footage can look like with and without a stabilizer:

 

With that out of the way, let’s take a quick overview at some of the better known camera gimbals currently available:

•Quick Gimbal Survey

The Feiyu G4 Plus 3-Axis Brushless Handheld Gimbal is one of the more popular smartphone gimbals. It’s a bit unfriendly on the Mac side and is aimed more at the PC world as evidenced by the hoops you need to jump through in order to update the firmware. It doesn’t include it’s own iPhone app and when we get to the DJI Osmo later in this review you’ll understand why this is a problem.

Feiyu G4

However, the G4 can capture really nicely stabilized shots and the handle has the ability to shift into several modes combining roll and tilt with stabilization. Since it relies on the smartphone’s camera app you can shoot with the iPhone’s built-in camera app or grab one of the higher end ones like MoviePro. This is a greater starter rig to help get your head around what is possible with a gimbal.

If you prefer to shoot with a compact camera such as a GoPro instead of a smartphone, Feiyu also offers the Feiyu Tech G4 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal. This unit is slightly less expensive and simplified specifically for these smaller units vs. the G4 Plus. As it has no onboard app at all, your workflow route to Final Cut Pro X will depend on the camera itself and which format it shoots.

In terms of the GoPro to Final Cut Pro X workflow , you’re starting with highly compressed MPEG-4/H.264 files which are great for capture but pretty lousy for editorial. So you’ll want to follow a simple workflow: First copy the entire card structure to your system. Then ingest into Final Cut Pro X and optimize media.

•DJI Osmo Mobile Review

Finally, let’s look at the DJI Osmo. The first thing you’ll notice about the Osmo is the level of finish compared to a lot of other brushless gimbals. The Osmo is built like a tank and feels more like it belongs on the instrument cluster of a sports car rather than its selfie stick cousins.

DJI Osmo Mobile Review App

This is also trickle-down technology from DJI’s bread and butter drone/quadcopter products like the Mavic Pro. But what really sets the Osmo apart from the rest of the gimbal pack however is the app that comes with the product: DJI GO. This app is actually used for several of DJI’s products including the Osmo 4K which includes its own camera vs. a smartphone mount.

What’s awesome about the app is that it enables object tracking. This means you can select an object in the frame and while you move around it, the app will automagically control the gimbal to keep the position of that selected object centered. This means you can achieve super sophisticated multi-axis camera moves with very little effort.

DJI Go Object Tracking

DJI Go Object Tracking

You can achieve super sophisticated multi-axis camera moves with very little effort.

•Taking it for a spin

The Osmo Mobile includes hardware controls to start/stop video recording, shoot still frames, reset the gimbal to neutral and control pan/tilt.

DJI Osmo Mobile Review controls

DJI Osmo Mobile Onboard Controls

For this next portion of my review, I shot some video. In the following clip you can get a taste of how the Osmo operates both in stabilization mode and in object-tracking mode shooting in the highest 4K resolution my iPhone 7 can muster (then down-converted to 1080p for this demo). Take a look:

 

 

•Back to Final Cut Pro X

Once you’ve got your amazing shots, here’s where things got a little bit clunky but workflow is what we do. The DJI GO app is great for syncing up the gimbal to the video but you’ll need to jump through a few hoops to get those shots over to FCPX intact.

Using DJI Osmo footage in FCPX

Osmo footage back in Final Cut Pro X.

Number one concern is that DJI expects you to edit directly in the app. There’s a couple of issues with this: their editing functionality is super basic and barely good enough to slap a few clips together. Second and more importantly you’re taking a major hit in quality because you are unwrapping and rewrapping MPEG4 video in the editor and the resulting image quality.

So getting clips from the phone to your Mac is a little more cumbersome than it should be. GO stores each clip in its own library rather than automatically going into the phone’s photo library. And you have no other way to get shots out other than getting them to the phone library first. And instead of just multiple selecting of every clip you want to save in one step, you instead have to open each clip and manually hit save. Hopefully DJI will address this in an update.

DJI GO Save Image

Saving an image with DJI GO is a little painful.

Once the clips are saved to the device’s library you can get them onto your Mac the usual iOS ways. If you happen to be near your computer I highly recommend using AirDrop, it’s super fast and you’ll be ready to drop the results into FCPX right away and get cutting. Otherwise you could sync through Photos or even email yourself clips. And that’s about all there is to it.

Airdrop back in OS X

Airdrop back in OS X

•Executive Summary

Next-generation camera stabilization products like the DJO Osmo Mobile can add a huge level of production value to your video content. This can translate into higher satisfaction with your clients and the ability to produce better content than you previously thought possible. With just a little tweaking, you can make the footage available for use in Final Cut Pro X. It’s just a quick Amazon order away, give it a shot so to speak. If you do, please sound off in the comments.

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