Time Lapse In Your Films

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I have recently gotten addicted to the TV show "Breaking Bad."  One of the things that I love most about it is the cinematography.  The show is very raw and the camera matches it.  Rarely will you see a stable shot on a tripod.  Even the establishing shots are handheld.  It adds a great aesthetic to the show that goes with the theme of unbalance in the main character's life.

One thing that I have also noticed about their cinematography is their consistant use of time lapse.  I can't think of another TV show that uses this technique.  The thing I like about it is that it looks amazing and it conveys the passing of time a lot easier than other techniques.  For some reason not a lot of people use it.

I have started getting into time lapse video to see how well I could do.  This was my first attempt at it.

In this one I plugged my camera (Canon Vixia HF20) into the wall outlet and hit record. I filled up the 32 gb hard drive of the camcorder with about 11 hours of one continuos shot. I then imported it into Final Cut and sped it up to something about 1,000,000%. It took a lot of time to export and it wasn't worth the time I spent on it.

This was the next one that I tried doing.

It was with a Canon 60D hooked up to my computer through EOS Utility. This took a picture every 15 seconds for about 6 hours. Once again I put it into Final Cut and exported it. This was a lot easier because I didn't have to work with a 30 gb file. However the problems I faced in this one was that I left it on autofocus on so every picture the camera refocuses. Each picture then looks a bit different from the other.

The other problem with this method is that you are bound to your computer. There are many places that I would like to do a time lapse but don't want to bring my computer there. With DSLRs you can buy an intervalometer that controls how often your camera takes a picture.

Finally my latest test was with a GoPro. I set the time lapse feature on the GoPro for once every five seconds on the shots outside and once every two seconds on the shots inside.

The easiest out of all three of these methods was definitely the GoPro. A full tutorial on how to do a time lapse with a GoPro will be coming shortly. The thing I also liked about it was how tough it was. If you look at the video of the GoPro at :21 you notice that it starts leaning. What you don't see is that the camera actually fell off the roof because I didn't secure it right. Even though it fell from a two story building it still works great with no problems.

What ever way you do your time lapse make sure that it adds to your film other than a beautiful camera shot. A great Aspiring Filmmaker can properly balance camera shots that add to their films aesthetic and look amazing.

I also found this site that has a pretty good tutorial on how to do time lapses. He talks about how to improve your photography so if you want to learn more about that go check it out at www.improvephotography.com.


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