Updated: Oct 8, 2020
The EASIEST and QUICKEST way to create stunning, cinematic hyperlapse/moving timelapse videos with any camera.
Today I'm going to be exploring the techniques I use to capture dramatic timelapse photography with a twist - dynamic movement! In this tutorial I will discuss how anyone can capture a handheld hyperlapse with any photographic camera - even your phone! For the purposes of this tutorial I will be using a Sony A7sii. Skip to the bottom to watch the video tutorial.
My name is Aidan Joseph and I am the Technical Director here at Blink Vivid. We are a video production company based in Sheffield. We shoot a range of productions from corporate video production to full documentary filmmaking. Hyperlapses are an extremely effective and impressive filmmaking technique to add to your repertoire and I repeatedly use these in productions of all genres. So without further ado, let's jump right into it!
Choosing Your Location
The first challenge you are going to face when shooting your handheld hyperlapse video is picking a good location.
There are a few things that you are going to want to look out for that will ensure that your hyperlapse works, particularly when using this handheld method. For this handheld hyperlapse tutorial, I chose the Sheffield City Hall as my primary location. We then headed out to the Peak District to Burbage Edge to shoot a second hyperlapse.
You will need a lot of space. Hyperlapses work a lot better when you can cover a lot of ground throughout the duration of the hyperlapse. You can shoot shorter ones that span less distance if that's what you're looking for, but for this tutorial we're going to look at big, swooping movements that make the hyperlapse more dramatic.
You will need a clear focal point. This could be anything in the frame that you will be able to EASILY place in the same position of your frame for every single photograph. Something that is too far in the distance will be much harder to line up shot-by-shot and will also make it more risky in post when you're trying to stabilise the footage.
Movement in the frame looks better. Part of what makes hyperlapses look so amazing and stand out from a simple steadicam shot is that you get this amazing timelapse effect for anything in the scene that is moving. That could be cars, people, the clouds in the sky or anything that won't stay the same from photo to photo.
You need to walk in a consistent line. Whether that's going to be entirely straight or a smooth curve, you will want to make sure that, whatever movement you choose to do between the beginning and end of your handheld hyperlapse, your path is smooth and consistent. You can use pavements to help you with this, walls to walk alongside, or anything on the floor that can help you keep a very smooth path. If you fail to do this, your hyperlapse will wobble all over the place.
As for camera settings, there are a few very important things you need to keep in mind. For this Hyperlapse tutorial I am shooting on a Sony A7sii, so the menus and settings you will see are specific to Sony cameras, but you should be able to set the same settings on whatever camera you use.
Always shoot in manual. Whether it's with your DSLR or your phone camera, swap it over on to manual settings and keep them the same for every single shot you take. Once you've configured your camera for the hyperlapse, that's it! Keep it on those settings for the rest of the hyperlapse.
Slower shutter speeds means blurry motion. This is an effect I'm really fond of, but you run the risk of creating unwanted motion blur in other areas of your shot if your hands aren't steady enough. I find that with moving cars in the frame they look amazing when you shoot each shot with a slow shutter speed. Somewhere around 1/10 of a second. You will have to compensate in other settings to make sure you expose correctly.
Capture your images in RAW. This will just give you a lot more control in post-production over the colour grading of your hyperlapse. If your camera doesn't shoot raw images, that's fine. Just use JPEG instead.
Shoot in higher F stop. You want as much of the scene to be in focus as possible. To do this you want to shoot at a higher F/stop value. Somewhere around the region of 15 or so. This will minimise the amount of time you will spend re-focusing the camera along the course of your hyperlapse.
Use grids/guidelines to line up shots. Whether your camera lets you use 3rds or diagonal grids, or any other overlay effects to help you frame your shots, you will want to turn these on. You will use this grid to accurately line up your focal point in the same place for every photograph.
Shoot as wide as you can. As this technique works through stabilisation in post production, we need to use a wide lens and shoot it at the widest focal length. For this tutorial I will be using a Canon 16-35mm f/2.8. When you stabilise the footage with warp stabiliser, premiere will crop in on the frame, so we are preparing for some of the image to be lost around the edges.
Shooting The Handheld Hyperlapse
As for shooting the actual hyperlpase, there are a few steps that you're going to need to follow in order to make sure that the end product works properly.
Keep Consistent Intervals - You want the time and distance inbetween your shots to be as consistent as possible. The further that you move inbetween shots, the faster the hyperlapse will be when you render it at 25 frames per second. If there is movement in the frame, you don't want there to be time jumps inbetween frames that are inconsistent. The clouds in the sky for example - you want them to drift smoothly across the sky rather than jumping erratically.
Keep your camera as level as possible. If your camera has a spirit-level setting, you should definitely use this. Try to use horizontal references in the frame to help you level out each shot. There will be some variance between shots but minimising this will give your end result the best look.
How many photos should you take? When wondering how many photos to take, just bear in mind that every photo will be a single frame of whatever framerate video you are wanting to create. For the purposes of this example, we will be exporting a 25fps video. That means that for every 25 photos you capture, you will have shot 1 second of hyperlapse video.
Preparing the photos in Adobe Lightroom Classic
When you've captured your photographs, you're going to want to import the RAW files into Adobe Lightroom to prepare them before we export as JPEGs and send them over to Adobe Premiere Pro.
Open Adobe Lightroom Classic CC
File > Import Photos and Vidoes
Find your images for your hyperlapse video. Select all of the images and click 'import' in the bottom right hand corner of Lightroom.
Now you're going to need to edit one of the images and then apply the same edit to the rest of the images in the sequence.
If the lighting changes dramatically in your hyperlapse sequence, you will want to pick an image that is not the brightest or the darkest, but somewhere in the middle.
Once you have edited your image to your personal preference, you need to copy over the edit to the rest of the images.
Right click on your edited photo > Develop Settings > Copy Settings
Leave the next box as it is and click 'Copy'
Select all the other images. Click on one, scroll to the end of the sequence, hold shift and click the last one.
Right click on any of the selected images > Develop Settings > Paste Settings
Now we need to export these RAW images out as JPEGs. This will compress the file sizes and allow us to import our image sequence into Premiere.
Select all the images in your sequence by pressing CTRL/CMD + A
File > Export
Choose an export location for your files.
Scroll down to File Settings > Quality = 100
Make sure 'Limit File Size To' is unchecked
Now we're finished with Lightroom and can move over to Adobe Premiere Pro.
Finalizing the Hyperlapse in Adobe Premiere Pro
I will be using Adobe Premiere 2020 for this tutorial, but you can use most versions of Premiere. You should also be able to do this in any editing software.
File > New > Project
Give your project a name
Choose a Location
Now we need to import our hyperlapse photos into Premiere.
File > Import
Find the folder where you have exported your JPEG images from Lightroom
Click on the first image in the sequence
At the bottom of the file explorer, make sure that 'Image Sequence' is checked. This will select all the rest of the photos in the folder so long as they are named chronologically (E.g DSC001, DSC002 etc.)
Now you will have your non-stabilised hyperlapse imported into Premiere. Next we have to apply a 'Warp Stabilizer' effect to the footage to iron out any imperfections caused by the handheld photography.
File > New > Sequence
Select Digital SLR > 1080p > DSLR 1080p25
Drag your imported Hyperlapse file onto your new sequence
Click 'Keep existing settings'
Now you will notice that your handheld hyperlapse will be zoomed in on the Program window. This is because the resolution of your photos is going to be greater than the 1920x1080 sequence we have just created. This is easy to fix.
Window > Effect Controls
Click on your Hyperlapse Clip in the new sequence
Adjust the Scale figure down from 100 until the hyperlapse footage neatly fits the frame. In my case, I had to adjust the scale down to 46.
Now, the last thing we have to do is to apply a Warp Stabilizer effect.
Window > Effects
Type in 'Warp Stabilizer'
Drag the 'Warp Stabilizer' effect onto your hyperlapse clip in the sequence
Open your Effect Controls window
In the settings for 'Warp Stabilizer', use the following:
Now once your warp stabilizer has finished analysing, you will be rewarded with your finished hyperlapse! If you need to add more stabilisation, try adjusting the 'Smoothness' percentage. I wouldn't go any higher than about 20% but you can play about with this figure to find out the best fit for your footage.
Once you have finished stabilising your footage, I recommend right clicking on the clip in your sequence and selecting 'Nest...'. Give your nested sequence a name and organise it somewhere in your project window. This will allow you to adjust the speed ramping of the clip, as warp stabilizer will interfere with any time remapping.
I have explored everything in this written tutorial in the below video:
Hyperlapses are a brilliant way of bringing an extra flare to your video production. They can be shot on any camera and without a tripod, making this technique very accessible. Try to make your handheld hyperlapse your own; get creative with the subject, test out different movements, include a zoom or a tilt to the camera lens. There are all sorts of different ideas that you could incorporate to make your hyperlapse stand out and elevate the quality if your film.
I hope this tutorial has been useful to you and if you've found it to be valuable, please consider giving this page a share on social media. Thank you for reading!
Written by Aidan Joseph of Blink Vivid Video