DJI Mini 3 Pro Spotlight Intelligent Flight Mode

One of the most important new functionalities of the Mini 3 compared to the Mini 2 is the availability of the three intelligent flight modes grouped under the name Focus Track. I use them constantly, as they enable very complex and precise moves

The intelligent flight mode Spotlight with the DJI Mini 3 Pro can be used in two different ways:

  • To maintain a static target in the same position on the frame while performing all sorts of movements
  • To track moving targets in a dynamic way

I have done several related articles you may find interesting:

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How to Enter Spotlight Mode

After drawing a box around the target, a small window appears with the three intelligent flight modes of Focus Track. The default mode is Spotlight, so we are immediately ready to go

Mini 3 Pro: setting a target in Spotlight mode
Mini 3 Pro: setting a target in Spotlight mode

These modes can be used with both color modes of the Mini 3, Normal and  D Cinelike

It is also possible to use the wheel of the RC controller to apply a smooth zoom of up to 200% while using Spotlight for very interesting effects, but being a digital zoom there is a loss of resolution, so this functionality should be used only when the project will be encoded at a resolution of 1080p

Sadly Spotlight, like all the modes of Focus Track, is only available at frame rates up to 30 fps. The availability of 60 fps would have been handy for slow motion

The Mini 3 Pro doesn’t have omnidirectional obstacle sensors, so some attention is needed when using Spotlight. In this article, you will find details about the obstacle avoidance system of the Mini 3 Pro

How to Use Spotlight Mode with Static Targets

Classic Spotlight Moves

When a static subject is selected, the camera will maintain the target in the same position on the frame regardless of the movements of the drone. In other words, using this method, the camera is disconnected from the direction of the flight

A classic way to use Spotlight is to fly diagonally to the target to reveal the background with some parallax effect. In this case, revealing Mount Etna behind the monastery in the foreground

Here, I am using it to show the width of this lovely bay in East Sicily with the camera locked on the Norman castle while the drone performs several moves

Another bay nearby, this time the camera is locked on a tiny lighthouse revealing Mount Etna in the background

In this case, raising while moving toward this village perched on the hills. Spotlight maintains the camera on the target despite the change in elevation

Spotlight is very useful in real estate videography, to show the surroundings of a property in a cinematic way

Advanced Spotlight Moves

A classic move hard to perform manually is the famous crane shot. The aircraft starts at a low altitude with the target locked in the middle of the frame, then raises moving closer to the target to end up on top of it for a bird’s eye view

The opposite move can be used for a reversed crane, revealing the background. I suggest choosing Cine mode for lower speed and more precise results

Waypoints is a very useful tool, but sadly it is only available on the DJI flagship model, the Mavic 3, andin the new Air 3

It works by setting two or more points. For each point, the position of the aircraft, the elevation, and the orientation of the camera are stored in memory

The software handles the smooth transition between the points. Please refer to my specific article about Waypoints with the Mavic 3   

Using Spotlight we can get similar results, as we have control of all the movement of the aircraft while the target remains in the center of the frame

How to Use Spotlight Mode for Tracking

How To Set Up Spotlight Mode for Tracking

Selecting a moving target by drawing a box around it can be challenging. In these situations, it is better to use Subject Scanning. We enable this option in the control tab of the settings

DJI Mini 3 Pro Spotlight mode, Setting a target using Subject Scanning
DJI Mini 3 Pro Spotlight mode, Setting a target using Subject Scanning

When Subject Scanning is selected the interface will show a box over suitable targets like people, bikes, cars, and boats. We can tap on the plus sign to select the target

Differences Between Active Track and Spotlight  

In Focus Track there are two tools particularly suited for tracking subjects. Active Track is designed to track a target autonomously. The drone will move to maintain a constant distance

This mode can be used without the controller, it is, therefore, the one to choose when it is not possible to operate the aircraft, for example in follow-me situations

More info about Active Track is in my specific article

Static 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

Dynamic Tracking Using Spotlight

Any time the controller can be used for tracking the most interesting mode is Spotlight

The target will remain in the same position in the frame while all sorts of moves can be performed using the sticks of the controller, for very dynamic results

Point of Interest, the third mode of Focus Track, also has some limited tracking capabilities, here you find my specific article about POI

Spotlight Mode for Vertical Footage

The ability to tilt the gimbal to shoot video and photos in portrait format is a main selling point of the Mini 3. After the latest firmware upgrade, the three modes of Focus Track are available in vertical format and this is a big plus for users active on platforms like Instagram, Tik Tok, or YouTube shorts

All that is needed is to tilt the camera to vertical format before selecting the target and then proceed as usual


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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