Half The World Away…

This year has been an incredibly busy one for me. I like this fact, but it is amazing and slightly worrying how fast the year is disappearing. It’s July now! Yikes. Despite this huge time rift, I am, by-and-large, getting a lot done which is great. I’ve managed to tick off a few things that I was working on or wanted to do, but it seems that every time I put one project to bed, two more are already waiting for my attention. I’m not sure if this is a good way to handle things (am I spreading myself too thin?) – who knows, but for now, I’m going to keep pushing myself hard to produce better and better work like I always have done.

Anyway, this naval gazing preamble is a long winded way of saying that I’ve finished another video. It is my first full (more or less) timelapse based short film. Aside from just getting away from everything and having a thoroughly relaxing time on honeymoon, I really wanted to try and capture some really nice timelapses of the stunning landscapes of New Zealand and Australia. This mini-project, unsurprisingly, dictated a lot of how we went about travelling round. Fortunately for me, my wonderful wife had already factored this into the itinerary so we had plenty of time to make the more picturesque journeys. Also, fortunately for me, my wonderful wife was (or at least did a good impression of) happy to sit in the car by the side of of several roads (and in a couple of cases, in the pitch dark) and read her book while my camera(s) clicked away. To be honest, I personally think it made the trip more pleasurable; made us slow down and when we did stop, we stopped for a good chunk of time with some incredible scenery to enjoy. I felt like we actually *saw* a lot of the country(s) properly instead of just grabbing a quick snap while with the engine still running. At a timelapse seminar by Philip Bloom I went to last year, he equated shooting timelapses as “the modern day fishing”, which is totally spot on. So, sticking with that analogy, here’s the fish that I caught. Or something. I hope you like it.

I’m very pleased with how it came out. It’s not perfect (but it’s mine – to quote Tim Minchin) but I think it’s rather nice few minutes of footage. It wasn’t without it’s pressures and frustrations, however. Weather was a (slightly) limiting factor, but probably not in the way you’re thinking. In the South island of New Zealand especially we were treated to some unseasonal (apparently) warmth and sunshine! These crystal clear, blue skies were great – but didn’t really make some the most interesting sequences. Obviously, I had no control over this, but I ended up with plenty of footage for what I needed.

The bulk of this was shot with my Canon EOS 5D-MkII and my Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM lens. I also experimented with shooting some sequences with my iPhone 4S (with the ‘Timelapse’ app) which actually produced some pretty impressive results, and meant that I could double my output from each location. It’s pretty amazing that it’s now possible to shoot really nice video sequences with a phone. The camera on the iPhone 4S really is great!

Post production wise, all of the sequences (along with colour correction and grading) were assembled in Adobe After Effects CS5.5 (many of them on the fly while we travelled round) and the final film was then cut together in Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5. I’m starting to feel pretty comfortable and confident with both of these packages now, and they really are a joy to use. I think that the Warp Stabiliser tool in After Effects (and also directly in Premiere Pro CS6 now, I believe) has to be one of my favourite things ever! It’s come in incredibly handy for taking out those little bits of annoying movement from the timelapses, and smoothing out some of the handheld video footage that I used in the film too.

This project was a really good learning experience for me, and I’m really pleased with the result – The astrolapse sequences especially. Although it was frustrating at times that I couldn’t necessarily get all the shots I wanted or that the weather wouldn’t quite play ball, having to work within a very strict time frame kept me motivated and actually made me shoot more. I think part of the reason that my London film has taken so long is that it’s too easy for me to wait for the conditions to be “perfect” and procrastinate instead of just getting out there and getting on with it. I will rectify this! Any comments or feedback would be very welcome!