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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Step 3: Finish the Shot
I used color grading tools in the shots. Vibrance and Clarity as well as Curves.
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.
Step 5: Assemble the Shot
This was made in 4 minutes of post. I slightly rotated the shot as it panned to compensate for the angled shooting surface.
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.
Rich has published over 100 courses 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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