If the venue is being gutted, where do you put the camera? This was the conundrum Broadsword faced when a well-known restaurant chain requested a time lapse video to record the renovation of one of their sites. (The answer, as it turned out, was on the window frame). If the mention of time lapse video has your fingers itching for your camera, read on to discover Broadsword Creative Director Martin Walton’s tips for effective time lapsing.
The first step, unsurprisingly, should be careful planning. Your intended subject might make a one-time only appearance, so you need to be ready for it! For external shoots you can scout the area using Google Earth, and if you aim to capture a sunset or sunrise you can use an app such as Sun Seeker to discover the best conditions in advance. Plan for all weather eventualities and get permission from the land/venue owner before you shoot.
It’s also worth doing a test shoot to ascertain how much storage space and battery power you have to work with, in addition to determining the best position for the camera so it doesn’t photograph any obstacles and captures a stunning end scene. You may have to leave the camera unattended while you shoot, so consider the security of the equipment and environment. If you’re not leaving it unattended remember to bring a book and some sustenance: look after yourself while you’re looking after your camera!
Finally, some technical tips: If you’re using a DSLR camera and you know the light levels will change use aperture priority mode. If there is no anticipated change in light level use a longer shutter speed to create a blur effect, creating the impression of movement. This impression can also be achieved when editing the video by zooming in on the frame (DSLR cameras best complement this technique, as the frame sizes are quite large). Or, if you want to emulate House of Cards (as in the US show's time lapse title sequence, not the Machiavellian politics) you can physically create the effect through the use of a motorised dolly or slider.
So now that you're equipped with these tips, what are you waiting for? Time waits for no man... but give these tips a try. Maybe you can catch it as it passes by.