Telemetry Overlay: total control over gauges and data

Telemetry Overlay is a new tool for creating telemetry visualisations on action camera and drone videos. It’s a user-friendly tool that focuses on the design and video output, supporting GoPro, DJI, Insta360, Garmin and others.

Telemetry Overlay uses a video’s GPS metadata to help you create a number of overlays such as speed, altitude, trajectory, bearing, etc. The app includes support for GoPro action cameras including the HERO9 Black, of course, all the way down to HERO5 Black cams. The DJI Mavic Air 2, Mavic 2 Pro, Mavic 2 Zoom, Mavic 2 Enterprise, Mavic Mini, Mavic Pro, Phantom 3, Phantom 4, Phantom Pro, Inspire 2, Matrice 200, are supported too. With these drones, telemetry is recorded in subtitle format, either as a separate file or embedded in the video file. Telemetry Overlay supports both.

Also supported are the Insta360 One R, One X, and Pro. For these, accelerometer and gyroscope data are generally recorded when shooting in INSV format. Further down the support chain are Garmin watches and trackers that record metrics to the .FIT format, with some of the data streams supported including GPS, Heart Rate, Cadence, and Power. And finally, GPX files with valid tracks are supported too.

Unique to Telemetry Overlay is that it offers gauges for everything these devices record and that you can add Elements, which are not based in data, but in user input, such as custom titles and images.

Not all devices support all gauges, of course. With my HERO9 test unit, I had access to the Speedometer, which gives you the speed of travel in 2D (latitude and longitude) or 3D (which includes vertical speed), and of which you can change the design, including its shape. Other gauges that were pre-populated for me were the GPS Path, which has plenty of map and satellite options, an Accelerometer that shows forces and vibrations by axis or total magnitude, an Altitude gauge that gives the current altitude relative to sea level or to the lowest point of the path, a Distance gauge for current and total distance travelled, and a bearing gauge.

Yet many others are available, but most were greyed out as a HERO9 Black does not, for example, monitor your heart rate.

The focus of Telemetry Overlay lies on the design and the output of a completely designed project. The app therefore lets you change the design in almost every conceivable way and lets you set In/Out points for some gauges. That means Telemetry Overlay has to support multiple videoclips and be responsive when using it. For that purpose, gauges can be set to have multiple telemetry sources, or just one if you loaded a clip with the sole purpose of having that metadata for one gauge, for example.

Responsiveness is taken care of when you load clips into Telemetry Overlay; the app will first optimise the clips so they will play fast and without stuttering as you go on customising the different representations of the metadata overlaid on the video.

A very nice feature is that you can save a project to come back to it on a later date. The only thing that would make that even better is when you could just double-click on the project file in the Finder to start up Telemetry Overlay. As it is now, you need to load the project from with the app; the Finder will not recognise it as belonging to it — of course, you can associate the file extension in the Finder with the app using the Info panel.

When you save a project, you’ll be able to see which videoclips you have saved with it — and that will include individual clips as well as clip ranges that you might have loaded.

An advanced feature is that you can synchronise any telemetry with your videoclip by changing its time offset and speed so it matches the video footage.

A very useful feature is that you can save the visual appearance of a project as a pattern (template) and reuse it later in a completely different project with different video and telemetry data sources. This will save the visual appearance of the project and Gauges sections, but nothing that depends on the video or telemetry data.

When you have finished the project, it’s time to export to a video, complete with gauges or to a video with only the gauges so you can import those in your NLE (or Adobe After effects, or Apple Motion). There are three options in the export screen, a transparent MOV file with only the gauges reacting to the telemetry data, which can then be overlaid on the footage in your NLE, the complete footage with gauges included and transparent frames containing only the overlay in PNG format.

You can even select one of two codecs — ProRes and QuickTime RLE — of which you’ll probably prefer the ProRes version for its best quality.

The exporting process of a transparent ProRes movie takes a long time, especially on a slow machine, as the entire overlay has to be rendered in 4444 format. A 14-minute clip took well over 2 hours to export.

Telemetry Overlay is pretty unique and offers great flexibility in terms of customisation and export capabilities. It’s inexpensive at $199 (at the time of writing $99). It’s a must-have for all footage shot with action cameras or drones.