Technical paper: This paper explores the director’s dashboard, a Human-computer Interaction tool, developed for media crew.

Abstract

The usage of drones for media productions is by now commonplace. Many live media productions can benefit from the use of multiple drones to achieve multi-view video sequences. The main issue of such a system is its operational complexity, in particular with aspects related to planning, logistics, safety measures and supervisory procedures. This work presents the multi-drone director’s dashboard, a tool for media production with autonomous drone fleets. This tool allows media people to focus on the artistic part of the job, rather than on the technical part. The dashboard was integrated into a full system and tested in actual experimental media productions in the context of the European Project MULTIDRONE. This paper overviews the tool developed for the media crew, i.e. the team in charge of the whole system from a production perspective, in order to interface with the robotic system and communicate general and concise cinematographic instructions. As a result of this Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), the system computes a shooting mission plan consisting of feasible flight trajectories that comply with any relevant artistic, logistic and legal restriction. Then, the mission plan is assigned to drones in order to autonomously fly and acquire the desired footage.

Introduction

Many media productions may benefit from the use of multiple drones to achieve multi-view video sequences. The main issue of such a system is its operational complexity, in particular for aspects related to planning, logistics, safety measures and supervisory procedures. The risk is that production people lose the focus on the creative part of their work, having to pay attention to the technical part too. To tackle this aspect, the MULTIDRONE project1 developed an innovative and intelligent platform for multiple drone media production, mainly for outdoor event coverage. An overview of the state-of-the-art in this area, along with a brief review of current commercial Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technologies and legal restrictions on their deployment is presented by Mademlis et al. (1). This paper describes the director’s dashboard, a Human-computer Interaction tool, developed for the media crew, i.e. the team in charge of the whole system from an editorial production perspective, in order to interface with the robotic system and to communicate it 1 https://multidrone.eu/ (Last accessed April 2020). general and concise cinematographic instructions. The result of the interaction with the tool is the computation of a shooting mission plan consisting of feasible flight trajectories that comply with any relevant artistic, logistic and legal restriction. Then, the mission plan is assigned for execution to drones, which (autonomously and harmoniously) fly and acquire the desired footage. The dashboard has been designed to be intuitive and simple. Among its functionalities, the dashboard allows media people to plan multi-drone shooting missions by using a simple Graphical User Interface (GUI), to describe shot geometry by clicking on aerial maps, and to validate and execute plans for the missions.

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