Pulling off a long-term timelapse video project can be a tough thing to do, but it all begins with solid pre-production. The execution comes down to three vital things: good placement, a solid and redundant camera setup, and a smooth post workflow. Knowing where to put the camera takes a lot of creative eye and a little bit of fortune telling. Life happens, things migrate, the pattern of the sun changes, and plants grow. These are all contingencies that a video production company needs to take into account before setting up a timelapse video. At Blare Media, we have done several 6 month to year long projects, and some even longer.
A redundant and bullet-proof camera setup is vitally important. Most of our time-lapse installments are not able to be plugged in to AC power, so solar power is our best friend. We have a multitude of solar panel, regulator, battery, inverter options. This is the typical setup you will need for a proper DC powered timelapse solution.
The camera you choose has to have a variety of vital characteristics. Resolution, durability, type of sensor, and file type all play an important role. Deciding whether to shoot bracketed RAW, single RAW, or single JPEG is a big choice at the outset and will vary with almost every project. Not only do you need to take storage requirements into consideration, but you need to be aware of scene contrast. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly, because once you’ve started, it usually won’t make sense to change the approach.
Lens choice and stop is extremely important. You don’t want to be too wide open and lose focus of parts of the scene, but you also don’t want to see any potential dirt or water on the front port of the housing. We take this into consideration and try to choose an appropriate aperture setting that will work together with the shutter and and ISO to produce a clean, sharp, well exposed image under whatever lighting conditions the project calls for.
Post workflow and maintenance is crucial to a successful timelapse video. We will decide beforehand on a project just how often we need to go out to a location and what our data handling plan will be. Our plan takes into account the distance, time, and data situations to have a technician go to the site. In other situations, we have custom wireless setups where getting up to the camera more than once a month is just not feasible.
You have to remember that we’re talking about a lot of data here. On the Lonza timelapse video we used around 5TB of storage for all the stills we took. That’s a lot of data to have in 3 different places which is what we always try to do for our client’s always important footage.
This time-lapse was not only a satisfying video to complete, but we hard to work through some hard ships. In fact, the structure that the camera was attached to actually had to be replaced and removed 3 times during production – there was no other way to do it. But we persevered and did our best to have a compelling and contiguous final video.
Thanks for watching.