When to Use Velocity Clamps on the Alta

Today’s drone tip is going to be when to use velocity clamps on the Alta.

I’ve said this before, but the number one main thing I find so helpful about the Alta, is how Freefly has tailored it to maximizing camera movement with velocity clamps.

Now out in the film world when we’re on set, a thing we tend to do a lot of, is repeat shots.  Directors can be quite meticulous, and repeating shots over and over again until their happy with the talents’ performance is not uncommon.  Using velocity clamps will make your life so much easier during these circumstances.

Those of you who don’t know what velocity clamps are, they’re basically cruise control for the Alta.  The slider velocity clamp on the left of your radio transmitter controls the overall speed of your throttle on your vertical speed, and the clamp on the right controls the overall speed of the drone’s horizontal speed.

Now remember you can use the throttle clamp when you’re in either height (ATTI) or position hold (GPS).  The pitch and roll clamp works in position hold (GPS) only.

So when do you use these clamps?  Well, image a shot that requires you to elevate or descend very slowly and precisely.  Set the clamp to the proper speed, then you can elevate at full throttle, but have the speed clamped.  It’s common for directors or DPs to have you reverse the shot.  So what do you do… just throttle from 100% down to 0%… and the Alta will drop at the exact same clamped speed.

Works the same way with the pitch and roll.  Set your speed, and dolly to the left and then reverse the move and dolly back to the right.  Excellent for repeating shots over and over again at the same speeds.  Makes things easier for us drone pilots.

Velocity clamps really come into play when shooting with long lenses.  You may know by now, when shooting with a long lens, like a 50mm or longer, a drone pilot needs to typically fly slower on most shots, because it’s a lot harder for the gimbal operator to keep the shot framed correctly.

So when shooting with long lenses, I usually will use velocity clamps.

Now just a word of warning… these are great tools to have, but if you use them in the wrong situation or forget to disengage them when you’re done with them, disaster could knock at your door.

Lets just say hypothetically, you’re doing a slow descend and you complete your shot, and you’re 30 ft off the ground, and instead of throttling back to 50% to maintain a hover, before reseting your clamp back to 100%, your throttle stick is still at 10% and you put your clamp back up to 100%.  What’s going to happen?  Your Alta is going to fall to the ground.  Or let’s say your dollying left at a very low and slow speed, but then a car comes out of no where and you’re about to hit so you pitch hard to the right… your Alta may not react fast enough, because the clamp is too low.

So just a word of warning… use the velocity clamps in the correct environment.  And learn to turn them off when you’re done with them.

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