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Category Archives: Education

When a post focuses more on learning the craft of photography

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.

Time Lapse Narrative Talk

This week….

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 11.11.37 AM

Hyper Lapse & Time Lapse: Tools, Definitions & Examples

Time lapse is the art form I cultivate

In order to create better collaboration between creative and business types, I’ve put together this list of time lapse definitions with accompanying examples when appropriate. Although there exist some differences from the norm, for the most part these definitions are common and familiar within the time lapse and motion picture industries.

I hope you find this informative, invaluable and motivating enough to call me to discuss your pie-in-sky project. Hello? 818-422-0696…

The following definitions are common. If the definition is one I’ve come up with vs. what is commonly used, I’ll let you know with a • before the definition  While there are some truisms, rules are made to be adapted by the creator and that’s part of what you’re buying from a professional time lapse director/producer/photographer: a willingness to jump off the deep end for the sake of the project.

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why-Time Lapse?

I'm a huge fan of these helicopter POV's.

I’m a huge fan of these helicopter POV’s.

In the interest of furthering overall knowledge about the process of making short time lapse films (or narratives as I like to call them), the 3 distinct phases of production and why I like to make them, I’ve prepared an 18 minute presentation online.

Knowing none of us has that much continuous free time anymore (right?), I took the liberty of identifying 14 key points and making them into much shorter videos bits.

There’s a lot of great info contained within….time to watch!

why-Time Lapse?

Thanks for reading.

Michael
The Visual Sage

 

Well Hung Hardware 2

In the previous post, “Well Hung Hardware”, I blogged and showed how I hang a variety time lapse rigs used for short and long term assignments. The reaction was very positive and I decided to add to the collection:

This one I call Spidey.

Gorilla Pods are great for the odd situation.
Gorilla Pods are great for the odd situation. But you have to rig it pointing down for stability. The sequence lasted about 45 minutes.

 

I really like my Syrp Genie and Lil’ Mule so why not put them together? The sequence is sweet but you’ll have to wait for the video to post….

That's a 12 volt lead acid battery for powering the 6 rpm motor. The weights add stability.
That’s a 12 volt lead acid battery for powering the 6 rpm motor. The weights add stability.

 

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Well Hung Hardware

Time lapse photography is very hot right now and I’m grateful for the amount of commissioned work that’s come my way on a steady basis. My clientele have been generous, supportive and appreciative of the stories I’ve produced for them.

On most set ups, I take BTS snappers of my camera rigs. These photographs are used for reference and for the many talks I give on shooting commercial time lapse assignments.

C-stands, Gorilla Pods, Magic Arms, adjustable A-Clamps, segmented tubes, sandbags, apple boxes and tripods are fair game, especially when I have to rig in odd, out-of-way places: on scaffolding, attached to structural beams, wrapped around tree trunks, setting on soft earth or resting on rocks and boulders.

So without further ado, here’s a rogues gallery of my hanging hardware…

Moving cameras along a vertical axis requires a 27:1 stepper motor.

Moving cameras along a vertical axis requires a 27:1 stepper motor. Real power for driving up and down in a controlled fashion.

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Experiment with Time Lapse Editing

I’m enamored with time lapse and all that is has offered me the past three years. Here’s a snappy little PIP project for you. (picture in-a-picture effect)

I was giving a talk at the Apple Store in Santa Monica a few weeks ago and since it was not practical to bring all the gear I wanted to for the talk, the next best thing was to time lapse my favorite motion control device in its’ place. The TB3 from eMotimo in combination with the Dynamic Perception Stage 0 Dolly, two mefoto tripods, a li-on battery from Anker and a sandbag are what I use to create my signature motion effects.

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Look, Imagine & Go. Pull the story out of any digital file…

This excerpt is from an interview I did with Nigel Merrick from the Zenologue professional photography marketing website. One of my favorite informational websites dedicated to helping photographers live their dreams…

It’s The Little Things…

Working with a professional photographer is a little like buying catastrophic insurance…you don’t really want to think about what could go wrong on a shoot but it’s nice to know you’ll be covered. For instance, it’s the little things that will stop a shoot completely: broken connector cables, dead batteries, failed media cards, missing quick release plate, etc. It’s like when the timing belt breaks on your car, it stops right there, there’s no nursing it to a mechanic, you’re stuck until a tow truck comes. Hello Auto Club…

The photography professional you select must be prepared for many contingencies, especially on location where a quick fix can be difficult to come by…

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Decisions That Drive The Time Lapse Narrative Forward

Dynamic Perception Stage 0 Dolly and the eMotimo TB3 Black

Dynamic Perception Stage 0 Dolly and the eMotimo TB3 Black

What should be your guiding principal when planning shots, especially when it comes to motion control time lapse sequences? The four keywords I keep in mind are: education, documentation, preservation and entertainment. Every decision I make rides on the backs of these four words.

I jumped into time lapse photography in ’03 and have been hacking away at it ever since. During this time, I realized I was developing a new specialty: the commercial time lapse narrative. Now I offer a boutique experience to my market in that I shoot time lapse projects with the mindset of a movie director. I offer and provide multiple camera set ups daily, weekly and monthly. In addition to the usual fixed or static camera that records all that happens in front of it I also place what I call rover units throughout a site in order to tell the complete story, whatever it may be…thus the decisions that come with this approach.

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