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.
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.