In this guide we're going to learn all about Cinewhoops. It is a relatively new style of drone created to provide smaller and safer option while flying in various environments. We'll go over the pre build options and suggest a few tips to get the best cinematic footage.
What is a cinewhoop and who is it for?
Cinewhoops are drones specifically designed for capturing chrisp, stable, high-definition video that DJI drones can’t capture. They are small, stable and much safer than your 5” FPV drone. They usually run 3” propellers that are protected in ducts that give them more lift*.
Cinematic whoops fly quite different from a regular 5” FPV drone. The power to weight ratio is much lower, hover/cruise is at around 40% throttle (depending on the HD camera), that doesn't leave much room for correction or throttle punches.
Since they fly slow and steady it’s pretty easy to fly in and around objects, since the props are protected you can fly with more confidence around your subject and get those amazing close up shots you always wanted to do.
Cinewhoop FPV platform design
There are a few factors that make a 3” ducted drone compelling. The first one is obviously the ducts. While the ducts act more of a bumper than a real airfoil duct. Learn more.
Clearance between the duct and the prop is much bigger than NASA described in their research. The ducted design doesn't add much thrust to an already underpowered drone, making the ducts obsolete in performance aspect but give an unbeatable advantage compared to a open prop design, SAFETY!
The ducts can offer some performance boost but only with a custom made and balanced prop. Since most of the BNF options ship with a slightly larger than 3” duct set you cant use 3” props since they must have 0-1% clearance to get any performance boost.
So why do we need the ducts then? Newer designs of the cinewhoop follow a trend of adding foam to the sides making them bounce off obstacles and protecting the frame. These designs make them almost impossible to break since they don't fly that fast.
Classic duct design
This design was made popular by Andy Shen with the shendrones Squirt and his TPU ducts. His idea was to print 3” ducts out of TPU and custom cut props to fit the ducts. The props were a few mm bigger than the duct so they would dig into the TPU and get that clearance for extra thrust.
This design has shaped the cinewhoop scene and provides one of the best platform for cinematic flying. This design allows the Squirt to carry a lot of weight and be really smooth.
One thing that the Squirt lacks is durability, since the ducts are TPU when you bump stuff it takes the hit but also damages the duct since the props are made to fit just barely and you lose some of the performance and often brake a prop. This problem is solved with the second design trend.
Foam bumper ducts
Where this design came from is disputed, the earliest design we found was the Bumper Frame from Armattan Quads. This design was made more popular with the Bee-Bumper from Laurent Athenol (Frame-Concept). It takes what is good from the classic Squirt and improves durability and fun factor since you can bump stuff and not damage anything.
For a more casual flyer this is the way to go, designs like this don't utilise the duct thrust gains and go with a more mainstream road. There are 2 BNF options on the market right now but more will come really soon.
iFlight has actually partnered with Frame-Concept and made the BumbleBee hence the name. While the Diatone Tycan “borrowed the design” it improves on the gripes of the Bee-bumper and BumbleBee like maintenance arm replacement.
Best Cinewhoop RTF BNF OPTIONS
There are dozens of BNF cinewhoops on the market, all of them have their quirks and advantages. There are 2 main design trends designers follow, foam bumpers that are getting so popular these days and the classic duct design.
Pavo25 Whoop Quadcopter
The Pavo25 comes in both Analog and HD Digital – Caddx HD and Walksnail HD - FPV systems, catering to all segments of the audience. The Pavo25 adopts the pusher configuration for increased efficiency. The frame is made of high-quality carbon fibre and plastic making for a strong and durable design and the rigid construction results in a stable flight, minimizing vibrations. The DJI HD Digital version comes equipped with the Nebula Pro Nano camera and the VTX boasts of 720P transmission at a high 120FPS frame rate. The Analog VTX version comes with the Caddx Baby Ratel2 camera that comes with an HDR sensor with 1200TVL resolution, and A03 VTX adjustable power outputs. The Walksnail HD VTX version is equipped with the Walksnail Avatar HD Kit. This setup is capable of 1080P recording with the built-in 8GB storage coupled with a claimed transmission latency of 22ms. The dual-antenna design aids for up to 4km range.
DJI Avata Cinewhoop
DJI Avata is a bridge between traditional FPV, which is mostly about DIY/Manual-Acro mode, to cinematic videography for the above average drone pilot who is still behind FPV learning curve. The Avata falls into Cinewhoop-style drone category, but with extra capabilites as you would expect from DJI. The camera is placed in protective cage with gimbal and battery is mounted behind. RockSteady & HorizonSteady, Ultra Wide/Wide FOV are similar to DJI Action 2. Wider camera tilt angles are great. I find no fault so far. This is well thought design - the drone is just ready to fly as soon as you take off the lens cap and power it on. The overall learning curve to enter the FPV got more easier to wider audience, and that is maybe most significant approvment DJI offeres with Avata. Well done DJI.
iFlight ProTek 35 HD
The ProTek 35 is equipped with an F7 AIO flight controller, 45A 2-6S ESC, and the 2203.5 motors and Nazgul 3535 propellers combo results in a claimed top speed in excess of 120km/h by iFlight. iFlight has refined the overall CineWhoop experience with the Protek 35. With claimed flight times of up to 9 minutes without a GoPro and up to 6 minutes flying time with a GoPro equipped is a high benchmark that other manufacturers will find hard to live up to. Out of the box, the Protek 35 is set up to fly as a normal quad but can be configured for a pusher configuration for increased efficiency. The stock 2203.5 motors, which result in a bump in power output and a lot less heat generated, are larger than the competitors. The increased diameter lowers the current draw and provides a substantial increase in the torque. This is especially significant for pilots who wish to equip aggressive props.
GepRC Cinelog 25
Both cameras shine in different areas – If late evening flying is your preference, then the Polar Micro should be your pick and the Nebula Pro offers second to none image quality during daytime flying. To lower the cost of the quad, GepRC went ahead and equipped an F4 AIO FC - an F411 flight controller and 20A ESC sandwiched in a single board and comes with upgraded GepRC GR1404 4500kv motors. GepRC also claims that the redesigned frame, especially the FPV camera mounts and that of the GoPro Lite eliminates vibrations and noise, with little to no jelly present during flight. The pusher design also ensures that the Cinelog 25 gets at least 5 minutes of casual flying before needing to land and swap the batteries.
Diatone Taycan C25 MK2
The Diatone Taycan C25 MK2 again comes with 2 flavours – Analog and Digital HD FPV systems. The C25 stands in one aspect – its ability to switch between an open and closed duct Cinewhoop effortlessly. Open and Closed Cinewhoops have their pros and cons. Open duct Cinewhoops are light and flexible, efficient and offer more flight times. Closed duct Cinewhoops due to the nature of redirecting airflow from the top to bottom - produce more thrust at the cost of a slightly increased flying weight. The Analog FPV system can be used with as a small 2S and up to 4S Lipo Batteries. The 2S is helpful for pilots who plan to do indoor flying.
SpeedyBee Flex 25
The small size ensures it is lightweight and the rigid unibody protective duct results in greater durability of the quad. The RunCam Falcon Nano Camera coupled with the Link Digital FPV system provides 120fps video recordings and the F745 35A wireless AIO allows WiFi connectivity to the SpeedyBee App. There is a plug for powering HD cameras which makes it super easy to power the camera, a solderless solution on a cinewhoop. The port also connects to a UART, enabling users to turn off the HD cameras from their transmitter. It’s well-tuned out of the box, and the carbon fibre frame ensures that it absorbs crashes and impacts very well. If a small whoop that’s capable of carrying an HD camera and can go through tight gaps is your requirement, the Speedy Flex 25 is a solid option.
While at first it was just a frame, you can buy the BNF with the DJI system only. This is one of the drones that made cinewhoops popular, it is the most tested and supported platform of them all. If you want professional grade performance this is it, but at a professional price point. Note: No electronics included (camera, antenna, motors, etc.)
Tune and rates for flying smooth
Cinewhoops can seem quite unstable at times. since they have such low power to weight ratio they too often rely on ground effect which makes unwanted air vortexes and make the air coming into the prop “dirty” resorting in wobble and unstable hover.
That's why the tune is the most important thing when flying a cinewhoop without ReelSteady. Since they are quite heavy the P and the I have to be raised, in our iFlight BumbleBee quick setup guide we explain the nuances of tuning a cinewhoop, and share our tune for the drone, taking it from unflyable out of the box to a cinematic beast able to do freestyle without propwash with stock props. Check iFlight BumbleBee guide.
Wind can be a huge factor in flight performance, since cinewhoops have ducts the wind has much more surface area to push the drone in unwanted direction. What you do with the sticks is going to help you alot in combating these problems.
Cinewhoop pilots often describe flying the cinewhoop like flowing with the drone instead of fighting it and making jitters and more movement, with cinewhoops less is always more.
To get super smooth footage you must give in and let the drone do the work for you, let the drone drift in a controlled manner and when doing corrections make them as slow and small as possible, cinewhoops are small and bounceable so don't stress too much if you hit something. Confidence is key!
Cinewhoop Camera options
Cinematic whoops usually have a GoPro mount, while there are a lot of cheap options it is always recommended to go with a GoPro rather than any of the alternatives.
With the Hero 7 black and Hero 8 having software stabilisation like hypersmooth and hypersmooth 2.0 they are some of the more compelling options for shooting smooth and stable shots and skipping over the reelsteady stabilisation step in the production workflow.
You might think that stabilisation is cheating but keep in mind that cinewhoops are not made for freestyle and showing of your skill of how smooth your drone can fly, but capturing the subject or shot as smooth as possible.
To get the best footage possible out of the camera use protune settings in your GoPro. Frame rate, shutter speed and ISO are parameters that you want to lock down in your protune settings to get good results. Your ISO should always be locked to as low as possible. High ISO numbers make your footage grainy and generally bad looking. Lock it to 100 and go from there, if you are using a GoPro with a screen you can just look at the image and check if its properly exposed.
If you are using a Session you can use the App to set protune settings. If your image is overexposed or all blown out white, you need an ND filter which we cover in a guide as well. SEE DIY ND Filters
If you want to learn more about camera settings and how to get professional footage to youtube SEE OUR "HOW TO GET GOOD FOOTAGE GUIDE"
Plan your shoot
Even if you are just flying for fun, always first look at your surroundings before taking off. Make note of any obstacles you can fly trough be creative in the way you present your shot.
Cinewhoops offer something that no other camera system can do, go trough stuff and change elevation, make sure your shots have some kind of story don't just orbit around and expect to get good footage, since this kind of filming is pretty new you can get away with more mistakes than you think you can, just make sure you fill up your frame with something interesting and just have fun!
A good and fun practice shot is to go through a tree canopy, this is possible because of ducts soo branches and leaves wont go into the props and take you out. Just make sure there isn't anyone below when you fly, cinewhoops are safe but they are really heavy.
By going through tight spaces you will learn to avoid and go through obstacles, practice going in a spiral up and down a tree, you will get the hang of it and get really cool footage. Have fun!