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Note: This is a workflow in progress.  I’m going to show the first results.  

I’ve lately become fascinated with making time-lapses from hotel windows.  I’ve been trying to figure out ways to create interesting things from the views I get traveling the world.  The latest attempt focusses on things I can make that show a wider vantage.

This is the end result.  The day is a cold, wet, rainy, winter, day (or what we’ve been calling Wednesday on the East Coast for the last few months).  This is just a technical test of my workflow.  In fact it’s the first attempt and I’ll share with you what works and what I am going to refine in the future.

The Gear

I’ve gotten this whole kit down to something that can fir into less than 10% of my airline carry-on bag.  After all, this needs to be say to do and easy to pack.  The whole kit cost less than $200 (other than the GoPro).

flowmow

Flow-Mow 2-Hour Professional Timelapse for GoPro / DSLR cameras with GoPro Tripod Mount

I’ve attached a FlowMow panning head. This creates a slow pan of the GoPro camera (or other lightweight camera). The unit can pan a full 360˚over the course of 120 minutes.  No, you can’t change the speed while shooting (but of course you can in postproduction).

mounted

Joby GP8-BHEN GorillaPod Focus with Ballhead X bundle

This is a heavy duty Joby Gorillapod.  If I’m going to hang something out a hotel window, I want something solid.  The ballhead is very versatile so I can tilt and rotate the head to properly position the camera.

The Shoot

Find your shot and compose the frame.  The GorillaPod makes it easy to shoot and a wide variety of constraints.  The GorillaPod is great at gripping.  I wrapped it around the window edge and pinned the camera.  The GorillaPod can easily be wrapped around trees, railings, or anything else at your disposal. Here’s a Photofocus review.

Window

Lesson Learned #1 — I also had a GoPro safety chain.  However it wasn’t long enough.  I’m going to add a strong bootlace to the kit so I can loop through the unit and tie it off for additional safety on future shoots.

Lesson Learned #2 — I will use the GoPro wireless remote app.  This lets me see through the lens and make corrections (minimally) to metering and white balance. This would make it easier to get a better image at start.  With that said, GoPros aren’t DSLRs, so don’t expect the most extensive controls or menus.

Lesson Learned #3 — My old OM-D from Olympus is in the queue for more control.  It seems light enough to work on this unit.  It will give me more control over exposure.

Post Production Overview

This is just a quick overview of the post process.  Leave a comment below if you want a detailed tutorial on post.  I used Adobe Photoshop and After Effects.  This can be done lots of ways.

Here is the unprocessed frames assembled.  Yes it looks bad… this is why I post process GoPro stills.  If the sky was beautiful, this would be less of an issue, but all GoPro shots benefit from post.

Step 1: Open the Images

I used Adobe Bridge to open these into Adobe Camera Raw.  You can also do the same thing in Lightroom.

raw1

Step 2: Remove Distortion

Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom both offer Lens Corrections.  In fact there are built in presets for GoPro to remove Wide Angle Distortion.

raw2

Step 3: Finish the Shot

I used color grading tools in the shots.  Vibrance and Clarity as well as Curves.

raw3

Step 4: Run Upright

The Upright adjustment is great at fixing perspective issues in shots. The secret though is to fix one shot, then choose all your frames. Be sure to click the Sync Results button so the exact same math is applied to all shots identically. 

upright

 

Step 5: Assemble the Shot

I used After Effects…  here’s a post on the basic workflow. You can also use Photoshop.

This was made in 4 minutes of post. I slightly rotated the shot as it panned to compensate for the angled shooting surface.

What’s Next?

This is a workflow I am going to continue to refine.  I literally showed you the first test out of the camera.  If you guys want more, comment below and I’ll do a followup as well as share some new results as I continue to experiment.

______

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Join the conversation! 7 Comments

  1. Very nice to get in on the beginning and see the work in progress. That has much more value to me than seeing the finished product (although that is nice too). I would love some more information on using GoPro in time-lapse of sunsets and sunrises and any ideas on how the settings could be done in such a situation of a great change in dynamic range. The views from the hotels are interesting and I hope to gain some additional understanding from your workflow to transfer over to my workflow. Thanks for sharing these and I hope you keep it up. Cheers.

    Reply
  2. […] Read more here: Panning Time-lapse from a GoPro […]

    Reply
  3. I have done a few time lapses using a GoPro and found the GoPro’s to be pretty good. I also found that they can be used in the most unlikely locations and not as easily noticed by people reducing my fear of having gear stolen when/ if I have to leave it unattended.

    I also used the GoPro app to make minor adjustments before I started shooting which has worked pretty well however for the Post Processing side of things I used GoPro Studios as it did what I wanted it to do.

    Thanks for the excellent write up, you have certainly given me some more ideas to try out.

    Reply
  4. Hello,
    I mainly use the Go Pro for filming in public spaces, nobody seems to notice! But I find interesting the time lapses in urban areas. I’ll follow you :)
    best

    Reply
  5. Just found this review on accident… great review! Loving it!

    Reply
  6. Great article. I am doing some and wanted to ask what time delay are you using for taking the pics. 1,2,3,5 seconds? I tried yesterday with a muiv pan kit which is very smooth and my gopro capturing every 5 seconds. Created the timelapse and its stuttering not smooth at all. Any ideas?

    Martin

    Reply

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About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus and Creative Cloud User as well as an author on Lynda.com. Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.

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Adobe, Cinematography, Gear, Gear, Photography, Shooting, Software, Technique & Tutorials

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