Time-lapse Photography – Shooting 4K and Beyond

Remember the time back in the late 2008 when the Canon 5D mark II was announced. It was a fantastic stills camera widely adopted by professional photographers all over the world.

However, soon enough, many filmmakers  were stunned by its great capabilities of capturing gorgeous HD images in video mode. According to some, the HD video mode on the Canon 5D Mark II was added to the camera by Canon in response to many photojournalists, who wanted a way to capture quick videos and upload them to the web instantly.

Acclaimed commercial photographer, director and DP Vincent Laforet released his short film “Reverie” in  October of 2009. This was the first 1080p video widely announced as shot with the Canon 5D mark II. It was viewed more than 2 million times in the first week of its release.

Reverie from Vincent Laforet on Vimeo.

Nevertheless, the first generation of DSLRs suffered severely from line-skipping, aliasing and moire patterns while recording in Full HD video mode. On the other hand, 5D mark II was (as yet is) a great stills camera that captures 5K (5,616 × 3,744) 14-bit raw still images. Many videographers adopted this feature and started to experiment with the so-called “Time-lapse photography”.

Time-lapse photography is a technique whereby the frequency at which film frames are captured (the frame rate) is much lower than that used to view the sequence. When played at normal speed, time appears to be moving faster and thus lapsing.

There are many great examples of breathtaking time-lapse videos. Here is one of my all-time favourites:

Landscapes: Volume Two from Dustin Farrell on Vimeo.

One of the first filmmakers who considered the idea and decided to shoot a full-length time-lapse film is the award-winning cinematographer and director Tom Lawe. His debut film – “TimeScapes” features stunning slow-motion and time-lapse cinematography of landscapes, people, and wildlife of the American South West.

Lowe spent two years roaming the Southwest in his Toyota pickup truck shooting the film.  He edited “Timescapes” on his own home gaming PC. It is the world’s first movie that was sold to the public as a 4K file back in April 2012. Tom Lowe has earned more than $200,000 selling “Timescapes” so far.

TimeScapes 4K from Tom Lowe on Vimeo.

In order to shoot at fixed time intervals, you’ll need an intervalometer. You’ll find this feature on some DSLRs, point-and-shoot cameras, and GoPros. Some cameras have those built in such as Nikon DSLRs. Stills cameras from Canon may need an extra accessory like the TC-80N3 Remote Controller, but there are cheap alternatives on eBay for about $20. The MagicLantern firmware also provides intervalometer functionality for Canon.

Sony DSLRs may need an accessory as well.  Here is the first episode of  “The Basics Of Time-lapse Photography” series  presented by Vincent Laforet:

If you want to see the other episodes click here!

Here’s an additional HDR (High Dynamic Range) tutorial from Dustin Farrell for all of the advanced users out there:

How to HDR Timelapse from Dustin Farrell on Vimeo.

So, if you still don’t own neither of the latest models of 4K video capturing DSLRs, maybe it’s time for you to take out your old one and to start shooting great time-lapse 4K images right away.

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