While waiting for my replacement camera gear to arrive in the mail here in Oregon, I’ve been doing some browsing online, researching more info on how to shoot timelapses and viewing other people’s work for inspiration and ideas, and I want to share with you guys some of the videos that really stand out for me, videos that really get me feeling excited and giddy, eager to go out and do the same. So here’s a collection of some really cool videos, as well as my commentary as I think out loud about pulling something like this off. 🙂

Walk Across New Zealand

Sweet! A guy hiking across beautiful landscapes in New Zealand, kinda similar to what I’m doing! and this is a really fun and unique way of presenting this sort of experience. How would I go about creating something like this though? A group of guys creating the same sort of project in the States posted a behind the scenes clip, so let’s find out how they made this!

Behind the Scenes of Walking Across America

Okay wow, so definitely not something I’d wanna pull off alone, and definitely a lot more planning than I thought. They mentioned that they tried to kinda wing it at first and that didn’t work, so instead they wound up recording the guy walking in real-time, breaking it down frame by frame, marking out the distance he should move in every frame, and having him move in small increments according to his actual walking style slowed down.

I really like that there was a whole crew involved. Lots of people to bounce ideas off of and come up with creative solutions to problems. Plus trying to set up the camera and run in front of it and pose for each individual picture, trying to do something like that solo over and over and over and keep everything aligned, well… that’s just not very practical. Having a good crew looks like both a lot of fun, and really helpful in terms of developing a more advanced project!

Most of the timelapse work I’ve been doing so far has been stationary, meaning you just plant the camera on a tripod and let it click away. You can fake movement like pans and zooms by shooting extra wide and then zooming in and out of the frame during the movie or panning across from one side of the images to the other in software. This saves you from having to lug out lots of heavy gear, but if you’re actually going into the backcountry, there’s some looks that you can only get if you have a dolly system

Timelapse on a Dolly

Basically a dolly is a set of rails that a camera slowly slides over. You can set it up so that it slides horizontally across your subject, or point the rails towards your subject so that it slides towards it or away.

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In addition to a dolly to move horizontally, you can also set up a crane to go vertical.

Timelapse on a Crane

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Pretty cool, huh?

and speaking of moving the camera through nature, some guys did a shoot through Norway and had some really impressive timelapses through there. Let’s take a look.

Drivelapses and Nature in Norway

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Okay, so Norway is absolutely beautiful, and these guys did a great job capturing it both stationary and while moving in a car or on a boat. I’ve been experimenting with driving timelapses and these guys are much closer to the look that I want than I have been able to achieve thus far. The tunnel shot near the beginning for example, playback is actually pretty slow, something like 8fps with a smooth transition between frames. Playing the frames back so slowly lets you actually see each individual frame instead of having everything rush past you in an unrecognizable blur.

The driving timelapses through the mountains look fantastic in terms of interval and playback speed. Again, it looks like they’re shooting individual frames pretty quickly to make a nice smooth video. When I leave the gaps between frames too large, wanting to visually cover long distances in a short amount of time, it’s not a very smooth drive. Instead of trying to capture long stretches of the drive at once, I’m thinking it’s better to shoot lots of little scenic sections and stick them together.

The boat scenes are awesome… I don’t have any experience doing that yet, but after seeing what they’ve done, I’d love to give it a go. 🙂

There’s a trick in this video that I haven’t seen anyone do before. You see, shooting a transition from day to night or night to day is actually pretty tough. For you photographers out there, it’s over a 20 stop difference, and adjusting the camera for the changing levels of brightness and doing it in a smooth way that matches the fading or building light, that’s actually pretty tricky. Something these guys did at the end of the video is they shoot an evening/morning combination. If you watch closely starting around 2:20, you’ll see then shoot a transition over the city from sunset directly into sunrise, skipping the nighttime altogether. You can tell when they do it when a boat vanishes from the water and the lights flick off. Anyways, they skip over the stars at night altogether and shoot evening and morning and stick the two together in software quite seamlessly. Cool idea!

Finally, the scene immediately following it where they drive into the back of the boat at 2:37, it’s impressive how they did a smooth transition from the bright outdoor drive to the dim parking job inside the boat. I guess they shot in Av mode to have the camera automatically adjust the exposure for the change in lighting. Different than shooting full manual to keep exposures consistent. I’m gonna have to experiment with this too… 🙂

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