The more and more that I watch of drone racing, I become filled with a weird mix of excitement and disappointment. Racing drones is such an amazing feeling both for the pilots and the spectators. Riding along by tapping into the video feed with your own FPV goggles is incredibly cool, and most other people would agree. Unfortunately, the exuberant feeling you want from the sport is more often bogged down by awful video presented to the audience.
Drone Racing will never be able to grow as a sport unless a good feed can be shown. Take a look at the Drone Racing League’s (DRL) videos. The production quality on these things is ridiculously high! The images are crisp and clear, the content is presented to the audience in a way that’s interesting; people want more of it! Comparing that to something like the World Drone Prix’s video, and you immediately realize what the problem is. Grainy, grayscale, low-resolution footage just simply isn’t interesting to watch. On top of that, no matter how interesting an announcer tries to make it, this type of footage will only appeal to those already invested in the drone racing scene.
Alright, before anyone gets their panties in a knot, I realize that the DRL takes a ton of time preparing and setting up for every race, every heat, and every camera shot. The meticulous planning that is self-evident in those videos isn’t going to be matched by any small group trying to host their own race. However, I do believe that a standard should be set for the higher profile cases.
Take, for example, the DR1 invitational. Now, I don’t want to pick on this group, because they do a lot of great work on the drone racing scene, but there needs to be a little more for the average spectator. Cameras need to be working, they need to be calibrated correctly, but most of all, they need to be good. Perhaps this means a standardized setup is required or something else that I haven’t considered, but whatever it is, it needs to happen soon.
Note the quality of the feeds, and the duplicated video between BanniUK and Charpu.
I have very high hopes for the future races, and I anticipate that the folks over at DR1 Racing take this opportunity to plan their next event to look even better (despite the poor video, it was one of the cooler tracks I’ve seen!), and to have fewer hiccups. As the Drone Nationals and Drone Worlds comes closer, I hope my trepidation eases. A good, well-edited showing of the Drone Nationals on ESPN could spark a huge boom in the racing scene.
But… if the average spectator tuning in gets 360-480p resolution, grainy, grayscale video, it could also spark disaster.
Leaving on a happier note, Luke Bannister (the 15-year old winner of the World Drone Prix) took home first place in the DR1 invitational finals.