DJI Mini 3 Pro How to Use Active Track

Does the Mini 3 Pro Have Active Track?

One of the most important upgrades of the Mini 3 Pro compared to the Mini 2 is the ability to track moving objects and follow people, cars, cycles, boats, and so on

Active Track is the tool to use with the DJI Mini 3 Pro for autonomous tracking, in other words without the use of a controller, a situation often referred to as “follow me”. It is the mode to use when driving, cycling, hiking, walking and talking, or performing any sort of movement without an operator controlling the aircraft

The ability to track is one of the most popular functionalities in a drone, a significant selling point for the Mini 3 Pro, the first DJI model under 250 grams to offer it

I have written several articles relating to tracking. You may find them interesting:

If You Prefer To Watch It As a Video

Does the Mini 3 Pro Have “Follow Me”?

The term “follow me” is nowadays used for autonomous tracking: following a target walking, cycling, or driving while the remote controller cannot be used

Follow me was the default tracking mode in older DJI models. It used the GPS signal to track the device used for controlling the aircraft. Active Track in the Mini 3 Pro is much more advanced, as it also uses visual recognition and the APAS (Advanced Pilot Assistance System) to detect and avoid obstacles

How to Set up Active Track

To enter the three intelligent flight modes of Focus Track, simply draw a box around the target. A small window will appear with the three modes available, by selecting Active Track it is then possible to choose one of the two modes, Trace or Parallel

In the menu control, we can select the option Subject Scanning. In this case, the software recognizes specific targets like people, cars, bicycles, boats, and vehicles and puts a plus sign around them

The option Subject Scanning in the Control tab of DJI Fly
The option Subject Scanning in the Control tab of DJI Fly

To enter the three Focus Track modes we can simply tap on the Plus sign. This method is particularly suitable for targets that are already in motion

Subject Scanning is available at 4k with frame rates up to 30 fps, and in fact, the three Focus Track modes do not work at higher frame rates. This is a bit of a disappointment, as it means that we cannot apply true slow motion while tracking which would often be useful

Obstacle Sensors

Another major upgrade of the Mini 3 Pro compared to the Mini 2 is the presence of obstacle sensors. The tracking functionalities are strongly linked to the ability to detect and avoid obstacles. There are a pair of sensors at the front, toward the back, and at the bottom

Here is my in-depth analysis of the obstacle avoidance system in the Mini 3 Pro

It is not an omnidirectional system like in the Mavic 3, as there are no sensors at the sides and at the top. The front and back sensors have a wide-angle view and partially protect the sides and above, but obstacles placed near 90 degrees to the side or straight above will not be detected

Maintain the Mini 3 Pro above all obstacles while tracking
Maintain the Mini 3 Pro above all obstacles while tracking

For this reason, I would recommend using the Mini 3 for close-range follow-me only in wide open areas without any obstacles. I would not use it under canopies of trees or in dense forests. When tracking action I would remain above any obstacle. The only model of the current DJI line really suitable for close-range tracking is the Mavic 3, thanks to the omnidirectional sensors

Active Track for Autonomous Tracking

Let’s start with situations where we cannot use the remote controller and the drone is operating entirely by itself. These situations are often referred to as autonomous tracking and are the ones where Active Track really shines

It is suggested to choose a wide-open location without any obstacles, maybe a beach or a scene with an interesting background. Wooded areas are to be avoided for obvious security issues. Assuming that we don’t want to carry the remote controller, it is possible to adjust the distance from the subject and the height before starting

The interface for tracking is not as sophisticated as the one for the Mavic 3, where we can set 8 different positions compared to the target. With the Mini 3 Pro we have a choice between two tracking modes: Trace and Parallel

Mini 3 Pro, options for Trace and Parallel mode in Active Track
Mini 3 Pro, options for Trace and Parallel mode in Active Track

Trace Mode

In Trace mode, the aircraft will follow the target at a constant distance behind or in front of it. It is also possible to have the drone just above the target with the camera pointing down, for bird’s eye tracking

Tracking from behind works very well, even when the target changes direction. It is possible to place the drone in front of the target for a more interesting scene

With the Mini 3 Pro, it is possible to track at a lower height compared to previous models, about a meter or 3 feet. This is very useful for a closer view of the subject and to better reveal an interesting background

Parallel Mode

In Parallel mode, the aircraft tracks the target from the side, at an angle slightly larger than 90°, to help the action of the obstacle sensors, maintaining a constant distance

The drone keeps track of the target very well and manages to anticipate its position when it is covered by trees

It is also often useful to track one or more persons at a close distance, maybe someone telling a story, or singing, or two or more persons discussing while walking

Autonomous Tracking Using Spotlight

Autonomous tracking can also be performed using the mode Spotlight. In this mode, the drone will hover keeping the subject in the frame by panning laterally, behaving like a, well like a spotlight

This is also useful when following someone moving in a confined space, like a boxer in a ring, a comedian, or a rockstar on stage

Active Track for Vertical Video

Active track can also be used with the camera in vertical orientation. Tracking in portrait mode works just as well as in the traditional landscape format

Vertical video is a major feature of the Mini 3, and the ability to track in this format is an important selling point for users active on digital social media platforms

Zooming While Tracking

While tracking we can apply a smooth zoom using the right wheel of the remote controller

This is especially useful to get closer to the target because in most cases we have to keep the drone at some distance to stay away from obstacles

It is a digital zoom, therefore there is a loss of resolution, so it is only useful when encoding at 1080p, maybe for posting on social media

Tracking Using the Remote Controller

When using the remote controller, it is possible to add extra movement for a more dynamic tracking experience. It is possible to use either Active Track or Spotlight, the drone will behave differently

The RC controller for the DJI Mini 3 Pro, Air 2s, and Mavic 3
The RC controller for the DJI Mini 3 Pro, Air 2s, and Mavic 3

More details about the RC Controller with a built-in screen in my article

With Active Track

Using Active Track the distance from the target will remain constant. It is not possible to get closer or further away, but the elevation can be modified and some lateral movement is possible

It is the mode to use for precise tracking while adding a little extra movement

With Spotlight

In Spotlight mode, the target will be maintained in the same position in the frame, but all sorts of movements are possible

It is a very effective mode for very dynamic tracking revealing the background with an interesting parallax effect

VicVideoPic

I am Vittorio Caramazza, aka Vicvideopic, the founder of this website and author of all the posts. I am a videographer and photographer contributing to several stock agencies. I am an Adobe Certified Expert in Photoshop and Lightroom. I have 10 years of experience with dron videography and photography. I was struck by drone syndrome in 2013. I have owned and tested in depth the following drones: Phantom 3, Phantom 4, Phantom 4 Pro, Mavic 2 Zoom, Mavic 2 Pro, Mavic Mini, Mini 2, Air 2, Air 2s, Autel Evo Nano Plus, Mavic 3, Mini 3 Pro, Mini 3. My home has turned into a breeding ground for drones. I am the owner of two YouTube channels specializing in Videography and Photography, with a focus on drones My main channel is VicVideopic (in English): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgaBlrFDONJ4BSEUHa2cLKg My other channel is Drone Mitico, the Italian version.: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkeoY8rPPj-fypUKHckTtwQ I am currently based in Sicily (Southern Italy), but I tend to move quite often. After all, this is one of the main benefits of being a digital nomad…

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