Friday, April 5, 2013

1 Clip Watches from the Rooftop

I offer you a time lapse that I shot during a beautifully overcast day.  You can click "Read more" and I will share the interesting process I had to go through to make this clip usable.  This is also available for the first time as a WebM file for those of you repurposing these clips as backgrounds for your websites.

You can preview and download the clip by clicking "read more" below.  Happy Downloading!

Storm Clouds seen from a rooftop

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This video was shot using a Canon EOS Rebel T2i and a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens

Please excuse me if I trail off a bit:

Like I said before, it was a beautifully overcast day.  This is the first time lapse I've done with the clouds moving as slowly as they were.  The interval between images was 2 second (which is twice as long as I normally use; 1s).  I was also shooting this on my new L glass 24-105mm lens.  One of the benefits of this lens is the f/4 considering my need to drag the shutter a little bit AND keep the lens wide open, I needed less ND that I would have using my f/1.4. 

I made the decision to catch this on a day when I had lent my tripod to a colleague.  I managed to find a much smaller tripod (think of ones that cost $15 and are only suitable for point and shoots) that I hoped to do the job.  I then focused and set up my Magic Lantern hacked intervalometer to start filling up my 32GB SDHC card with RAW images.  Then all I could do was walk away and let it do it's thing.

1522 images later, I was ready to compose.

The first step was localizing everything and then processing the RAW images.  I prefer importing the RAW files into After Effects as a RAW image sequence and altering the first frame to my liking.  The program will then cascade those preferences to the rest of the images in the sequence.  I then take that initial RAW sequence and export it as a Cineon sequence of still images.  This keeps the bit depth high, but forgoes the processing that each frame would have to do in the RAW format. 

What I noticed when I re-imported the Cineon Sequence was a small natural shake due to the instability of the tripod matched with the heavier lens on the camera.  I tracked the motion of the edge of the roof to stabilize and then exported a slightly cropped yet stable (at least in the foreground) image sequence.  Importing the stabilized second Cineon sequence, I have now noticed that due to the shake, and the distance of the clouds in the background, the clouds now had a little bit of a pacing problem although the foreground stayed in one place.  I then analyzed the footage again using After Effects "Warp Stabilizer" and processed it for Smooth Motion.  This smoothed out the clouds in the background but kept the foreground stable.  The sequence was then exported again.  Importing now my 3rd Cineon sequence, I now have a very stable image sequence so I then trimmed it to my liking (the end of the video dipped into darkness as more clouds came) then exported it to the various file formats for uploading.

After everything I just have one little bit of advice.  GET A STABLE TRIPOD.  It will save you a heck of a lot of time.  Hope you enjoy the clip.  Thanks for listening.


  1. Nice video, I'm using it as blind... uhm... video here:

    Hope the Backlinks are fine like this :)

  2. Hi, We love your videos! We are using some for a music video for our band called Skytone and a new single out soon called "The Summer That Never Ends." I'll let you know when its done and send you the link. Thanks for making these available!


  3. Thank you so much for this. Awesome clip!