As all in life, there are good timelapses and bad timelapses. The first ones present to us a moving reality in a way we are not use to and consequently surprise us. On the second ones, we have the bad timelessness where what happens is not interesting, is more boring.
In this social media time, for some reason, the people lacks of patience. For that reason if a video that they are seeing is boring or bad, they simple cancel it and dedicate their attention to other topic.
The reason that bad timelapses exist is mainly for the lack of planning and previous visualization of what we intent to do.
Before we press “record” or begin taking photos, we have to use one or two minutes to see what is moving and how fast they do. Based on that we can decide the interval, which is the period of time one picture is taken after the other. This sequence of photos is group in 30 images per second that is the standard in video and when is played at that rate, present in seconds something that may be take several hours.
Its advisable to make a one or two minutes test to confirm that the decision we made about the interval was right. In that way we will know if its worth to leave the camera working for a while, and avoid making a boring timelapse as the ones more ahead. It is better to “lose” that 5 minutes than use hours to do and post-produce a boring or uninteresting timelapse.
Remember that “boring” timelapses must not be shown, they can’t reach the audience. It’s better to analyse what happened and making again in a better way.
If you follow this advices I can assure that your timelapses won’t be as bad like the two I shoe more ahead.
In this example of a “good” timelapse, a family reunion that last about 4 hours is shown. There was activity in the roaster, on the chairs and on the swimming pool area. A single shot timelapse would be boring and with a limited vision of what’s happening. That’s why I move the camera once and a while to tell visually all the histories that happened that afternoon. The result was a one minute and twelve seconds video where the family members that couldn’t go to the reunion can have a good idea of what’s happened that sunny afternoon.
A bad timelapse is one that has be done just to do some. Usually happens without analyzing the movement of things and without a real purpose to do it or a story to tell. One classic example of that is a sunset without clouds in which the blue sky only loose their color until it’s dark. The timelapses are based on movement, if the subject doesn’t move there will be no movement acceleration and therefore you don’t enjoy the magic of accelerated movement.
Don’t you worry if some timelapse results boring, that things happen. According to Luis Caldevilla (luiscaldevilla.com), timelapses guru in spain, for every good timelapse there will be a bad one. You have to learn with every timelapse you make and develop an intuition sense to know where will be a great timelapse.
We have a say that stays that you learn more from your mistakes than the hits. Next you will find some of my worst timelapses ever. From those I have learn a lot and hope that sharing with you helps to avoid the mistakes that I made:
Sometime I was in a picnic and Tought: “… there can be a great sunset… nature, clouds,…. this can be great” but it wasn’t. What happened is even the clouds are there and moving, they were slim and small. The silhouette of the trees usually works great in a sunset, but as they are far away the movement of branches is barely perceptible. Now I can analyse what happened and make the changes that never happened again.
I was teaching a private class in a meeting room in a industrial plant. In a recess I saw clouds passing trough and discreetly put mi cell phone to record a timelapse. I did quickly because I didn’t want my cliente notice it.
My error: I was so excited to do that timelapse that I didn’t notice that the moving object (clouds) was so far away and therefore appears so small in relation of my frame. It was not only a waste of space but a bad composition. Well, even if I notice it, usually cell phones does not have telephoto lens… there is not much I could do.
Like every composition, it’s adviceable that our subject (in this case the clouds) occupy the major part of the frame. This timelapse does’t work because the clouds occupy only a small part of the image and also are blocked by a warehouse celling.
In a party of my aunt Betty’s ranch I watch that near the main house was a bird in a cage. He sings and moves from one side to the other inside the cage so I decided to do a timelapse of that. I put the camera on a tripod and half hour later checked the recorded sequence. I went disappointed when I saw that the timelapse has no movement. Yes the bird was moving inside the cage, but only a few inches. The cage also moves a little with the wind as well the tree’s leaves, but not enough to do an interesting timelapse.
Again it’s a good idea to make a little test and spend a few minutes to analyse and visualise what we pretend to achieve. Maybe the best idea is not make the timelapse in that place and use the time and the camera to do it on another place.
I don’t want that you think I only do bad timelapses, in my next post I promise to talk abut the times of timelapse that in my opinion exists and there will be “good timelapses” I promisse…
Luis Roberto De León has been dedicated to industrial and commercial photography for more than 30 years, staying at the forefront with digital technologies.
Phone: +52 (81) 8340 9090