When I started eMotimo in 2010, I was chasing technology that would enable me to duplicate one of the most mind-bending coolest shots I had ever seen at the time. In the original Planet Earth, there is a seasonal change where the camera is moving across the Japanese Hillside between Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn and back to Winter. It felt timelapsie and the impression most people had was that a camera must have been in position, shooting slowly for over a year . . .so cool. Well in fact, the shot is much simpler and harder at the same time. It was just undercranked video, or video sped up in post, not sure which to about 2-3x normal speed. The crew capturing came back to the same spot and did their best to take the same shot at least 5 times with consistent movement each time. The 5 clips were then match in post and crossfaded. Total capture time of that 15 second clip was less than 5 minutes of camera shooting between those clips, but the effect was that of transitioning over an entire year’s time. I still get the chills thinking about it.
Seasonal changes without motion is a relatively simple technique. Season changes with motion is black belt cinematography – even today. Much of the process is technology and much of the process is technique of camera setup. Get any part wrong a shot that you have planned and been shooting for month, or a year, or even longer could be busted. Get it right and jaws will drop, clips will be sold for big money, and audiences everywhere will have their eyes get wide and lean in closer to that big screen as wonder-smiles pop out.
It’s hard to do. It’s worth it.
The goal of this tutorial is to demonstrate and teach the workflow of setting up and saving a Programmed Shot to the uSD card on the ST4. That shot can then, after very careful setup and alignment of the gear, be loaded back to your ST4 at another time and rerun. That rerun shot will reproducing the same results as when the Programmed Shot was originally created.
- Seasonal Timelapse – Take a moving shot at the same place with exactly the same motion, at different times of the year – then line up the clips for timing and blend in post.
- Day to night timelapse effect – Yes Holy Grail can be cool, but in my opinion, it’s more of a hobbyists merit badge than a great production tool. It ties up cameras and limits your time bending options and feel. With a repeatable shot technique, you could blend 3 clips (one shot mid day, one shot evening, one shot night and then blend in post. Since your capture time is either a quick timelapse or even quicker video clip, you could actually increase then number of shots you try without going back multiple days, or tying up multiple cameras.
- Creative Blends of locations – If you have a move that you rerun and capture conent with at different locations – you could do jump cuts or fades or masks to combine clips. Since motion is the same between clips, the continuity of that could enable you do create interested transitions. Ever seen wipes where a wall or other vertical hard line is used to “wipe” or dolly between locations? Using repeatable shots, you have to get less lucky and you can increase the complexity of the move and incorporate axis you might not have considered. This area is mostly untapped and can enable lower cost productions to bring some serious production value without a large time or cost.
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