DJI Mavic Pro Color Grading Workflow in DaVinci Resolve 12.5

As a current owner of the DJI Mavic Pro drone, you should be well aware of the fact that for the most part it’s a fantastic, foldable quadcopter capable of capturing some stunning aerial footage in 4K. Many aerial videographers, however, wonder how to color grade properly those clips in post. One of the main differences that you would probably find when you compare the Mavic PRO videos to those captured on your Sony mirrorless camera, for instance, is the limited dynamic range you need to work with. So, to leverage the capabilities of your Mavic Pro camera in the first place, seasoned colorist and filmmaker Casey Faris recommends using the Art picture profile while dialing the sharpening to -1 alongside the contrast and saturation that should be set to -3. Also, adjust the white balance, ISO, and shutter speed accordingly before taking off. And, here’s the rest of the color grading workflow in DaVinci Resolve 12.5.

To balance your Mavic Pro footage, first bring down the Lift levels, but be careful not to lose much detail in the shadow areas of your shot. If the footage lacks brightness, you can tweak the Gain control to improve the highlights as a next step. Once you have a balanced and properly exposed clip, it’s time to increase the Saturation and bring back the natural look of your image.

Due to the limited dynamic range, it’s possible to have some blown out areas here and there. Don’t try to bring those back as odds are you won’t be able to. Instead, try to balance the overall look of the aerial clip while keeping it as natural as possible. As a final step, you can adjust the color balance by tweaking the Gamma a little bit. As a rule, try to look for a natural color and balance the rest of the image around it. After that, apply this basic color correction workflow to the other clips on your timeline to complete the process.

color_grading_mavic_pro_footage_01

In case you want to save some time along the way, you can utilize the FREE LUT provided by Casey Faris that should give you a decent starting point. Probably, you should still need to tweak the image after applying the look-up table, but overall, it’s certainly an easy way to make your footage look more natural and well-balanced right off the bat.

Ultimately, make sure your shadows and highlights are at a proper level, adjust the Gamma and add a bunch of saturation to taste. If your original MP4 Mavic Pro footage is a bit choppy and doesn’t play back smoothly in Resolve, it’ll be better to transcode it by using other more edit-friendly codecs such as ProRes or DNxHD to be able to play back and scrub through the Resolve’s timeline with no bulking while color grading.

[source: Casey Faris]

B&H Links:

DJI Mavic Pro Quadcopter –  $ 999.00

DJI Mavic Pro Fly More Combo – $ 1,299.00

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  • Jasonelmore

    ok so you guys lost me at the 1st paragraph.

    “filmmaker Casey Faris recommendsusing the Art picture profile while dialing the sharpening to -1 alongside the contrast and saturation that should be set to -3.”

    Art Picture Mode?!?! there is no art picture mode in the mavic’s settings. Under “Style” in the DJI Go 4 iOS app, there is 4 picture modes; Standard, Landscape, Soft, and Custom

    then your article goes on to say (this is where i’m a total noob)

    “dialing the sharpening to -1 alongside the contrast and saturation that should be set to -3. ”

    ok so where do i find sharpening and contrast settings? i think i know where it’s at, (custom picture mode) but i’m not sure what the Triangle, Half Moon, and gradient square mean.. I’m guessing Triangle = Sharpness, Half Moon = Brightness, and Gradient= Contrast, but tell me if i’m wrong.

    I am locking the exposure and shutter speed, however i’m getting really bad color popping using D-Log in Standard Picture settings with a locked exposure/shutter to ISO 200, shutter 4000, on a partly cloudy day.

    i cannot figure out where i’m going wrong. i need to get rid of the color popping, its interfering with my color correction attempts.

    • Vlady Radev

      With the release of the v1.03.0000 firmware update DJI has removed the Art color profile. Now, there are options for D-Cinelike, D-Log, TrueColor, and 9 labeled Film-A, Film-B… Film-I, etc. Before that point in time, the Art -1, -3, -3 was the way to go for many aerial videographers using the Mavic Pro. Hope that helps!

    • spoonlamp

      Agreed – this article needs to be revised. Secondly, I’m not sure setting the white balance, ISO and shutter before take-off is a good idea. It’s a drone – surely you’re better off setting them once you get to the height/location where you will be filming? Or at least setting it for the most demanding part of the shoot?

  • Jim Grimes

    The Art profile is still available in DJI GO (the older version, not DJI GO 4)
    Get the app, put the Art profile on your Mavic, then delete App and go back to DJI GO 4.
    The profile will still be on your Mavic!