Alessi's Top 5 Timelapse Tips

To kickstart Vintra's Monthly Pro Tips, we asked Alessi Heitman-Rice for his top 5 tips on how to shoot timelapse like a pro. Alessi is an award winning photographer and filmmaker and has shot motion-controlled timelapse for broadcast and film.


1. Always scout your locations out before you shoot.

Although this may be a simple one, it's one of the most overlooked rules for new photographers  starting out. Sunrises are the perfect example of why you need to pre-plan your shot, as often you will have little time in the morning to setup and compose your shot in the dark. The Sunseeker App on the App Store is an amazing tool for using it's 3D Live View to see where the sun will rise.

BBC TWO, Operation Stonehenge  The Sunseeker App was used to pre-plan this sunrise time-lapse.

BBC TWO, Operation Stonehenge

The Sunseeker App was used to pre-plan this sunrise time-lapse.

2. Remember to account for camera buffer when setting your intervals.

When setting intervals, new photographers will forget to account for their camera's buffer time. This is the time it takes for the captured photo to be saved onto the card. If the interval is too short, photos will be saved at irregular times, which will lead to jumpy footage. Most cameras will have a different buffer time, as processing power varies. If in doubt, 4 seconds is generally a safe rule of thumb to go by.

3. Use lenses that have a manual aperture to reduce flicker.

Using lenses with a manual aperture ring will significantly reduce the flickering seen on a lot of time-lapse footage. Although auto lenses' apertures can be set to a fixed f-stop, there will be micro changes in the rings between each shot, it's this inconsistency that causes the flicker. If you already have footage with large amounts of flicker, GBDeflicker is a great After Effects plug-in to reduce it in post.

GBDeflicker comparison test

4. If something unexpected happens, leave the timelapse running.

One thing about timelapse that makes it fun and also very frustrating is the amount of things that can go wrong. When faced with unexpected conditions during a time lapse, your best bet at having usable footage at the end, is to keep it rolling. There have been many times where I've wiped rain off the lens whilst shooting and the inconsistency between frames has made the footage unusable. DON'T TOUCH YOUR CAMERA

It started to rain during this test shoot and the temptation to stop filming was hard. However, I kept rolling and I ended up quite liking the effect from the rain on the lens.

5. Have fun and experiment.

Sometimes it's good to just play around with new ideas and challenge yourself in different situations. Timelapse is a long process and there's a lot of kudos to anyone who has enough motivation to make a timelapse film, however good. 

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