Not to be mistaken by timelapse, hyperlapse is an exposure technique in photography. It captures the moving flow of a subject and its surrounding by gradually changing the position of the camera between each exposure.This creates a tracking shot in timelapse sequence, which rewards the photographer an incredible moving set of photographs. Very much like this one.
So, how does hyperlapse work and how is it done? Well, it’s great that you asked because Interesting Engineering will give you 5 easy steps on how to produce cool hyperlapse footages.
Disclaimer: We are not professional photographers here but just mere enthusiasts who perform hyperlapse techniques as a hobby. Although this specific technique is complicated to execute, this tutorial should be enough to get you started, and as with everything else under the sun, practice will definitely make your hyperlapse skills perfect.
[Image Source: Pexels]
Step 1: Equipment
Ok, to gear up for a hyperlapse session you only need 4 fundamental equipment: Camera, tripod or monopod, chalk or marker, and a pointer tool (depending if you will use a tripod or monopod).
If you have a DSLR camera then that’s perfect in terms of settings and exposures. If you have an ordinary digital camera then that will work too as long as shot grids and the focus point can be applied. Can you use your phone? I’m afraid not, but you can definitely use smartphones for timelapses – incredibly handy. The below equipment will make sense as you go through the consecutive steps.
Depending on what you already have, you can use either a tripod or a monopod. Both are effective in executing the technique. If you will be using a monopod then you won’t need a pointer tool – you’d only need it if you’re using a tripod.
This photography technique requires plenty of ground marking so you would need a chalk or some kind of temporary marker (so it would be easy to erase once you’re done).
Again, you only need this if you’re using a tripod. If you have a laser pointer you can attach it to the center of your tripod’s legs (where it folds over). Or to improvise, just use a thread and attach a heavy object at the end of it (like a piece of rock) and use that as a pointer – this is as amateur as one can get.
Step 2: Location
It’s important that you choose your location wisely as it’s not just about the subject landmark but also the topography of where you will be shooting. Select a location that has a flat and even surface, and most of all plenty of space to move around. It’s also ideal to choose a location where the subject has an interesting backdrop, this should add effects on the final footage.
Step 3: Setting Out
This is the most important part of a hyperlapse. First, you need to place yourself far enough from the chosen subject in order to fully capture it. Decide if you want to do a horizontal flow or an approach flow. Horizontal flow is when you stream across the subject and an approach flow is when you shoot towards the subject. This video has good examples of both approach and horizontal flows.
And once that’s decided, you can start to draw your straight path. The path needs to be perfectly straight in order to obtain a smooth footage. If the line isn’t perfect then you will end up with a really noisy framing and that’s really hard to watch. For example, in this video (if you skip to 1:21 minutes) you will see that there is some significant shaking or noise in the footage, which was probably down to an uneven ground surface or imperfect path.
How then can you shoot a perfect or smooth hyperlapse? Once you’ve drawn a perfect line, you need to impose interval marks on the path. I suggest a 3 cm interval, this should produce a smooth footage but you can increase it depending on your patience. If you have a 1-meter line and you divide it by 3 cm, you will get 33 frames or photos. Sounds enough for a cool exposure footage? Absolutely not because a standard hyperlapse uses 24 frames per second, so 33 frames will only make up 1 and a half second of footage. So, your line needs to be long enough to get at least a few seconds of exposure. By using a 6-meter line with 3 cm intervals, you will end up with 200 frames, which results in 8 seconds of footage. Enough to watch a really cool dynamic exposure. You need to be extremely patient as 200 frames will take you a few hours to shoot. Sometimes, footage generators will produce 40 seconds of video for 200 frames, it just depends on which generator you use. But the basic goal is to take as many frames as you can.
Step 4: Hyperlapsing
Ok, so you have your equipment and you’ve prepared your location and subject, the only thing left to do is to take the photos. First, position your tripod or monopod exactly above the beginning of the line then start moving along the path one interval mark at a time.
On your camera, there should be an option to apply a grid on the screen, which will divide your image into three segments. This is called the rule of thirds – a top segment, middle segment, and a bottom segment. It’s important that the top and bottom segments are equally filled with the subject. Not too much sky or too much ground – adjust your camera’s position to capture just enough backdrop on the top and bottom grids. And, of course, the middle grid must be occupied with the subject itself.
Another important tip is to apply the central cross on your lens or screen. You need this center cross to be focused on one aspect of the subject. For example, if you’re shooting a building, try to focus the cross on the tip of the structure and keep it focused on that as you move along the path. Your camera will change focus as you move but keep on re-directing the cross towards your chosen focus. This is how you shoot a smooth exposure footage, just like that video above where you can see the footage moving around one fixed point. Keep taking photos until you’ve used up your whole path or until you run out of patience.
Step 5: Hyperlapse generator
Now, the last and final thing to do is to feed your frames into a video generator and make a short movie out of it. According to other photography enthusiasts, Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro X are great tools to generate dynamic exposure footages. You can also just Google footage generators and upload your frames online for a quick turnover – works satisfactorily for beginners. And that’s about it, some quick pointers and tips on how you can start to produce cool hyperlapse videos.
We will leave you with this incredible hyperlapse compilation video, taken across Europe, as a source of inspiration.