2016 Time-Lapse Showcase Reel

 

It’s always a struggle to keep current in the marketplace. I was especially busy with new and interesting work this past year and 2016 is looking even more interesting. But that’s no excuse when prospective clients tool around the web looking for someone like me and decide to go to my site. The work has to be fresh and relevant.

I had an abundance of material to cull through and at first this 2016 reel was 6+ minutes long. No way I would even watch it. So the trimming and clipping began. It’s still a bit long for my taste but I do think the time you’ll spend watching is going to be worth.

Hope to hear from you. Call me to discuss your ideas on how to professionally document, present and preserve your story.

I’ll be glad you did! :()

Thanks for reading.

Michael

From Zero to Hero in 31 Days

Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 3.01.01 PM
click on thumbnail to view film

Beginning on March 16th and ending on Grand Prix day in Long Beach, my newest film was commissioned by Downtown Long Beach Associates. They wanted a time-lapse film documenting the reclamation of an unused parcel that had been vacant for over a decade.

Unlike my traditional approach to construction time-lapse films, this one was process-oriented in that what you see are snippets of the work that went into transforming this barren locked up space into a vital gathering spot for locals and tourists alike.

Remote Time-Lapse System

My installation platform can be installed just about anywhere and function correctly.

I took a different approach to sound design also, adding crowd noise and other sounds that wouldn’t be happening at a construction site: the sounds of a roller coaster.

Can you pick the scene where those sounds occur?

Lastly, this film was shot over a 31-day period and delivered within 10 days of the last photograph taken. A record performance in that regard, usually post-production takes several weeks after-the-fact.

Construction time-lapse films go from zero to hero. This is no different. At the end we get to enjoy the beautiful scenery of downtown Long Beach with the Queen Mary in the background, lights, shadows, colors and of course The Loop.

Thanks for reading.

 

The Time-Lapse Challenge

The looming and constant challenge in my niche market is how to explain to potential clients why I do what I do. It’s not the photography but the thinking and feeling that goes into each film I deliver that is the ultimate challenge to get across the great divide. I’ve found this approach helpful to many of clients:

photograph of a gravel pit made to look like a jigsaw puzzle

It’s Like A Jigsaw Puzzle

The main camera provides provides context. I refer to this as the master shot. It is the border, the outside piece that forms and defines the boundaries of your story. The rover days, (the ground-based time-lapse footage gathered with moving cameras) video footage and drone work are individual pieces that I fit together in order to make your story flow. These pieces can be fitted in a variety of ways: the order in which they appear, the amount, (in seconds) each section of footage runs, the speed at which a clip plays back, how the head and tail (beginning and end) of each clip is connected to the piece that came before and the piece that immediately follows.

photograph of Michael e. Stern, time-lapse photographer scouting a location

On location scouting for the best master camera spot and our agreed upon choice.

And the beauty is, this process isn’t fixed. One can always revisit the master movie file and move things around, change a jump cut to a dissolve, ramp up or slow down a clip, raise or lower a the audio level of a sound effect or music track. This is your prerogative as the client when viewing rough cuts, to ask that the puzzle be fitted together differently. Although the work is so thoroughly finessed by the time you see the film that little if any changes are necessary. But you have the option. That is my guarantee as the puzzle master, that it fits together as you desire.

After Effects CC 2015 interface

This interface screenshot is from After Effects. This is typical of my films, many little pieces adding up to a cohesive whole.

Lingering Clouds Peak

Well it took awhile to finally get this film to a point where I can own the end result. An experiment in tone, color and softness, I have taken construction time-lapse work to a new place in the industry.

Enjoy!

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 12.03.43 PM
Lingering Clouds Peak

THE BIG TWO OF TIME-LAPSE FILM PRODUCTION

Be it indoors or out, demolition, grading or construction, when I’m hired to produce your time lapse film, there are two things on my mind: data collection and data management.

Granted there are four sub-sections inside the two and that’s the purpose of this article, to flesh out exactly what needs to happen to do it right:

1)     Fixed Camera
2)    Aerial Video
3)    Rover Days
4)    Post-Production

Continue reading »

IT’S SHOWTIME!

After several years of amazing construction time lapse projects, I finally had enough great footage to put together this clip/sizzle/demo/showcase reel. There was some great footage left out because like a complete time lapse project, this sample reel had to tell a clear and compelling story in as little time as possible.

Grab your favorite drink and sit back for 2 minutes and 19 seconds…

Time Lapse Showcase Reel

 

I Get It

You’ve never met me. You’ve never done a time lapse. And want to know how to make one. And the investment is in the thousand’s of dollars. You didn’t even know I existed before keywording “construction time lapse photographer in Los Angeles, California.” And did I mention your investment will be in the thousand’s of dollars? Scary I know. And to top it off, you won’t know what you’ve paid for until weeks and usually months after the shoot. Really scary.

How do you make an informed decision?

Please allow me to jump start the process for you…

First, this video. I was found via a keyword search and this company went through exactly what I’ve written about above.
This FAQ covers many areas but if you don’t see your question asked, by all means let me know via the “Contact Us” link to your right and an answer will be forthcoming. I’m here to help.

Another interesting link, (is there any other kind?) is, why-Time Lapse? I’ve broken down this 18 minute video into 14 key points. Full of visual examples and tidbits, I think you’ll find it immensely helpful.

After all is said and done it’s important to become as comfortable as possible with your decision because you’ll have to live with it for a long time.

Ready?

Let’s go!

Rode Hard And Put Away Almost Dry

I generally spend the extra money on professional grade equipment so my gear holds up when put through less than ideal conditions. Which I do often because it’s where my muse leads me. To wit: I spent one afternoon first and the next morning second shooting a time lapse slider sequence behind a handmade waterfall.

Using my trusty TB3 Black, Dynamic Perception Stage 0 Dolly, Canon 70D and Sigma 10-20mm wide angle zoom lens, it was moist to say the least…

No, the camera did not go into the water but it got wet. Oh well it needed a good cleaning anyway.

No, the camera did not go into the water but it got wet. Oh well it needed a good cleaning anyway.

My first inclination was to set the camera horizontally behind the waterfall, move it forward and stop just before it got drenched. Of course in that scenario no matter how hard I tried using magical thinking, my gear would have been ruined. Wrapping everything in protective plastic would have made the move so difficult to pull off cleanly, it would not have been worth the effort. Think THX-1138.

(If you get the movie reference and are local call me for a free headshot session. 3rd caller only. Operators are standing by.)

I revisited my set-up and decided this point-of-view works better with the time lapse sequence photographed several weeks earlier that this waterfall sequence cuts to. All of this is for the ending to a particularly stunning and all consuming five-month time lapse shoot.

I don’t want to think too much about whether or not my gear will hold up. I want to be careful of course but I want to get the shot even more. Especially when I’m being paid what I think is an appropriate fee. So it’s off to the danger zone I go…with towels, rubber-soled boots, sandbags, straps, a small ladder and whatever else I need to ensure my set up is righteous.

The video is in post-production and was waiting for these last pieces when I decided to revisit some edits. I plan to have this piece completed in a month or two. Stay tuned.

Or better yet subscribe to my blog and you’ll be sure to see it as soon as it’s live…

 

 

I tell stories about how things get built…

Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project

I was called to work on the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project last May and every so often they reach out to ask me to install various cameras at selected sites to record the process of building the “Century Bridge.”

This latest time lapse depicts 30 days of work on the pile caps. The piles are the underground bridge supports. The pile caps are built on top of the piles and are the structures the overhead roadway will eventually attach to.

The challenge of this particular time lapse was locating and installing the two camera systems. They were attached to two temporary platforms attached to two temporary light poles overlooking the yard where the work took place. Double-strapped for safety, these custom built mounting platforms rock!

BTS_Photos

Solar-powered and double strapped for safty. OSHA anyone?

The poles were in excess of 40′ in height and being temporary, they swayed during the shoot. No problem as the back and forth movement was addressed during post-production. The software tool is called warp stabilization. The software is After Effects. Great name, eh?

Continue reading »

The Marriage of Stills and Motion

A cinemagraph is the marriage of a single still photograph and either a real time video or a time-lapse video.

Or both…

The technique of combining still photography with a motion clip to create engaging visual treats has been around for several years. Since I first discovered this amazing trick I’ve been looking or the appropriate time and place to produce my first one:


Press the play button to see it again and again and again…

The story behind this is simple: working with my client, we decided to end the first part of what we hope to be a 2.5 year time-lapse film with a simple yet elegant group portrait of the heavy equipment operators in their employ. While shooting this epic group portrait, (one of my specialties) I had an epiphany: this was the time and place for my first cinemagraph.

And so it went. After the photography session, I took the file into post-production to tone colors, add a cloudy sky, add an employee who was photographed separately and finally, added the company logo and date of operations:

time lapse group construction portrait

A look at what the camera records, (left) and the artists application of his vision afterwards. (right)

And just like that, my client has the perfect ending to the first chapter of their time-lapse construction film. Note: the cloudy skies in the still photograph above were used specifically for the framed prints given to each person in the photograph. The cloudy sky motion clips blended together in the cinemagraph had a different look and feel.

I’m planning on adding cinemagraphs to future time-lapse construction films.

Will yours be next?

Thanks for reading.

Michael