Hyperlapse How-To

Cover photo by Paul Shears.

Lately we've had some pretty incredible videos going up on our Primelapse website, timelapses of all kinds from speeding traffic to the northern lights to the 2013 Chelsea Garden Show. Then we saw this incredible piece of work from Ozgur Pektas… 

And we thought, this looks too fun not to try!

What is Hyperlapse?

Motion in a timelapse is more often than not achieved through using a motion control rig or a slider, there’s some huge limitations such as cost and the fact that sliders are limited by their size: Even a very long boom will only give you a few meters worth of range at the very most.

Hyperlapse is a type of timelapse with a huge amount of movement, achieved through moving the camera (on a tripod) at the same interval in both time and space! This makes the hyperlapse a really affordable method for adding motion into a time lapse, although (like all timelapse photography), it's pretty time consuming!

What do you need?

How's it done?

  1. Figure out subject and camera movements - Using Google maps/street view is a good way to pre-location scout. My advice is to do the walk whilst filming on a smartphone if possible on the day to see where movement may be a complication.
  2. Set intervals - time & distance need to remain same. Interval will depend on scene, however small movements are often better than long. The time interval can be controlled with Triggertrap Mobile in Timelapse mode. The time interval needs to be long enough so that the camera can be moved the correct distance and aligned after each shot. The speed of the motion can be changed by changing the distance interval, for example, a hyperlapse could begin with increasing intervals to give the feel of acceleration, then, at the end of the hyperlapse, the intervals could begin to decrease to give the feel of deceleration. We used a time interval of ten seconds and a two pace distance.
  3. Take shots - ISO, shutter speed and aperture needs to remain the same. To make motion look smooth and realistic, 180 degree shutter recommended, so if the interval is 10 seconds, a 5 second shutter would be ideal. To get a 180 degree shutter speed, ND filters will probably be required!
  4. Avoid Flicker - Use a manual aperture lense or disconnect the electronics. This works really well with Canon Lenses, set the aperture then hit the depth of field preview and hold this down, next press the lens release button and rotate the lense just a little. This locks the aperture open and removes any chance of flicker due to the inaccurate aperture blades.
  5. Post Process - Process the photos as desired, either as a batch in software such as Lightroom or in video software such as Final Cut Pro.
  6. Assemble the timelapse - drag the files into video editing software such as Final Cut Pro or Premiere Pro. There is usually some sort of 'select numbered stills' option for importing. Make the duration of each photo worth one frame. Then adjust if appropriate.
  7. Stabilise in After Effects using stabiliser. You might need to use both Track Motion and Stabilise Motion, obviously depending on what you have shot and the motion involved.

Here is a rough little hyperlapse going across the Millenium bridge towards St. Paul's Cathedral we made ourselves here in London...

Some Extra Tips (or: lessons learned the hard way)

  • In busy areas it's definitely good to work with someone who can be your spacial awareness due to all of the moving you have to do and the fact you'll be focusing on not dropping your camera at the time, so that you still have an eye on the crowd and also someone who can keep an eye on the ground you're about to land on.
  • A sturdy and secure tripod is pretty much essential. You don't want a wonky leg when you're pacing forward all the time.
  • Some kind of tripod clamp or attachment for your phone, will be a huge help.
  • Do not underestimate the battery power and memory space you'll need. Hyper speedy results definitely takes hours to make!
  • As annoyingly time consuming as it will be, applying the stabilisation to smaller sections of the video instead of trying to stabilise long stretches of movement all at once generally does pay off.
  • Take your time. More frames per second will always be better than less frames per second if you want to make that motion look smooth. That way St Paul's Cathedral won't look like it's sitting over an earthquake quite as much as it does in our video...

Some more inspiration

Mr Geoff Tompkinson is currently Hyperlapsing his way around the world. Take notes.

Some seriously cool camera movements here from Andy Blalock.

Some great night time work here from Mayeul Akpovi.

Additional Hyperlapse Resources

Mirrored Hyperlapse of Tokyo (stunning!)

How to use After Effects Warp Stabiliser (CS5.5 and CS6)

Some great sunset Hyperlapse shots and a record of making