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Tag Archives: time-lapse

TAKING SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL AND BROKEN AND MAKING IT WHOLE AGAIN

One fully restored Faux Bois tree at the Huntington

Faux Bois Tree Huntington Gardens

A beauty shot of the final Faux Bois tree rebuilt by Terence Eagan.

I’ve specialized in 3-5 minute construction time-lapse films for about 8 years. In 2018 I produced my first construction documentary film. It’s 26 minutes long and includes music specifically written for the film.

What It Is

Faux Bois At The Huntington is the story of taking something beautiful and broken and making it whole again. This film features the work of Terence Eagan, a sculptor who restored and improved the original 100 Faux Bois trees dating to 1915. Faux Bois is the French Decorative Art, dating to 1860, of making imitation wood structures out of iron rods, wire mesh, barrel bands and concrete. In 2010, Terry began repairing a century of damage to the trees that replaced the Victorian Rustic Movement native oak log and timber arbors that Henry Huntington loved but frequently needed attention. Not so with concrete trees.

Getting Educated

Incorporating hours of video and time-lapse footage, location sound recording, purchasing original music and mixing sound effects was me punching above my weight class. Exhausting. Fun. But exhausting. I brought in several experts throughout but knowing when to do so and vetting the folks I hired was a new experience for me too. Love the life-long learning stuff when you’re self-employed!

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Weber Metals Heavy Transport

The following short film depicts the transportation of an extremely heavy part for the worlds largest privately owned 60K press. It moved very slowly through the city streets of Long Beach, at night with a full compliment of Highway Patrol vehicles and personnel. This very mundane process has been livened up quite a bit through the manipulation of time, (speed ramping) dramatic music and my overwhelming love of things construction and industrial related…

The press arrived in 39 pieces at the port of Long Beach. Due to their tremendous weight, each piece had to be moved via a specialized transport.

This short film depicts the transportation of one of four specialized pieces called a guide cannon. A guide cannon supports the guiding tolerance of the moving press frame. The press frame is composed of the lower crosshead, the tie rods with the pressure sleeves, the foundation crosshead and the upper crosshead with a overall weight of 8,818,490 pounds.

BOOM!

I know too much lingo but the thing to remember is that each guide cannon weighs almost 610,000 pounds and as such requires a very special process for moving from the port to the factory.

Hope you like it as much as I do!

Trimming My Trees

Tree_Trimming

Good-Bye Tree

After several years of putting off the inevitable, it was time to deal with two of our aging and annoying trees, trim one and take down the other. A perfect subject for a time-lapse! And this was the rare occasion for me, where no money was involved nor was there a client. (except me)

I used three cameras, that were relocated several times each during the six hour job. As I reviewed some of the footage, it was clear to me that this was going to be a black and white film.

Black & White

The right ingredients for a black and white story were in place: lighting angles of the sun, (height in the sky) the contrast of the light, (no clouds per se) and color. (bright sun at 5200˙kelvin) Whenever I can, I arrive on location for my time-lapse construction films as early as possible. Beautiful morning light cannot be beat. Its’ color, lighting angle and contrast are simply ideal for time-lapse film making.

As my stories unfold, one day leading into the next, early morning light affords great opportunity for sequencing a story together logically, naturally and emotionally. And my clients love the look. Perfecto!

Plan B

But when morning light is not available, plan B goes into gear; how to turn less than ideal light into a watchable film? Color is going to be my first choice due to electronic photography’s ability to separate colors into discreet levels of hue, saturation and brightness. But this same feature can be used effectively by removing saturation and using hue and brightness only to push and pull values.

I added a few effects at the beginning, (titling) middle, (forward and reverse) and end, (music, no rooster this time!) of this film because it’s different subject matter and being short needed to be different.

Enjoy.

 

Michael

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!

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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

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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

It’s Magic When Things Move

It’s the motion that makes me do what I do. As anyone who reads my blog…(both of you, where ever you are, thanks!), you know that after 31 years as a still photographer, I switched to time lapse in 2011. It’s what I specialize in now and as part of that specialization, motion control is a huge part of what I do for you. Done while in the field during principal photography, (but sometimes or in addition to), motion control can also be done in post production:

password: post-effects

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Related Images:

Time Lapse Narrative Talk

This week….

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Sangfroid

Rebar

The definition of cool under fire, this is one quality you definitely want your professional photographer to possess when commissioning a time lapse project. Especially if your project is located at a construction site with heavy equipment moving about. Safety first is crucial of course but the dynamic nature of medium and large scale construction sites guarantee that unexpected opportunities arise and as a time lapse specialist who spends a lot of time on site, I’m present to time lapse those unexpected moments, danger notwithstanding.

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