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Technical

Taking timelapse to a new dimension with the EOS 5D Mark III

Taking timelapse to a new dimension with the EOS 5D Mark III

© Matthew Vandeputte

March 2014

Hyperlapse. It’s an interesting word, and something of an oxymoron when you break it down and discover what this innovative form of timelapse photography involves. CPN Editor David Corfield talks to Belgian photographer Matthew Vandeputte about this new form of filmmaking...

There is something quite compelling about slow motion films. Watching them forces your brain to slow down; take time out and absorb all the hidden details and subtleties that are lost in the day-to-day chaos we’re used to.

© Matthew Vandeputte

Please click on the image above to view a recent hyperlapse of a sunrise over Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.

There’s nothing new about timelapse; filmmakers have been experimenting with frame rates and slo-mo capture since 1897 when Georges Méliès, a French illusionist and filmmaker made his movie ‘Carrefour De L'Opera’. The technique has been around almost as long as the medium itself, with constant innovation helping keep it fresh and innovative. Matthew Vandeputte is keen to take it to the next level...

“I discovered hyperlapse through a filmmaker from Belarus, ‘zweizwei’ (Artem Pryadko), on Vimeo,” he remembers. “His short films were the ones that got me asking questions about how they were shot and I knew they were not done through the normal way. So I went and investigated them through online forums and watched other videos and figured out that he was moving the camera after every photo.”

“Back then there were no tutorials, no behind the scenes instructions, so I had to teach myself,” he recalls. “That was two or three years ago and I became a regular on the Timescapes forum and got chatting to various forum members.”

© Matthew Vandeputte

Matthew Vandeputte’s technique is becoming popular on a commercial level, with clients loving the atmosphere of hyperlapse and the impact it can have on enhancing memories of important moments. Please click on the image above to view a recent commission.

“I was inspired and started experimenting. After a couple of weeks I figured out how to do it. I showed some early test results to the company Epic Cinema, who provide the aftermarket films to the electronic dance music festival Tomorrowland, which was local to me, and they loved it. I’m a big fan of electronic dance music and I knew my footage would complement the music well and luckily they felt it was perfect for the event. I was asked to cover the full three days of the festival, which was amazing as I had just finished my degree as a filmmaker.”


Methodology in miniature


© Matthew Vandeputte

Stunning scenes like this, a lightning storm over Woolloomoolloo, Australia, are brought to life by filming in hyperlapse.

Vandeputte’s preparation for his films is nothing short of obsessive. His training as a film editor has given him the handy ability to see films before he’s even shot them. “I look for interesting locations, and then I look around to see what moves are possible,” he reveals. “Do I go for a straight move or a curved one? I keep in mind the angle of the sun, and plan the route accordingly, keeping a consistent step between each photo. I take maybe ten or 20 pictures to start with, just as a test run, as that is enough to give me a good impression of what is possible.”

“On average I try to take at least 125 frames in one session, which translates to about five seconds of video after you’ve slowed it down and stretched it out. The preparation is a big part of it – you have to get into the right mindset. You have to have full-on concentration because one missed frame is all it takes to screw up everything.”

“I like to think of my style as energetic,” Vandeputte continues. “Being involved in the electronic music scene for events like Tomorrowland makes it easy to look for tracks that fit the storyline that you’re trying to look for. A lot of my editing decisions come from the rhythm and flow that the music brings. I personally shy away from slower music as I believe it makes it harder to capture the viewer’s attention; that’s also why you’ll never see me releasing a ten-minute video!”


Never stop learning

Vandeputte has certainly gained plenty of experience since he started his slo-mo quest. “I started out with an EOS 600D and I wore its shutter out after 200,000 clicks,” he reveals, “which is not bad as they are only rated to 120,000. It started to become unreliable with inaccurate exposures so I bought myself a 5D Mark III instead, which is in a totally different league, being a professional camera. The ISO performance particularly impresses me in the low light situations I find myself in.”

© Matthew Vandeputte

Please click on the image above to view a stunning hyperlapse sequence shot from an aircraft, demonstrating the versatility of Matthew Vandeputte’s technique.

“The one piece of advice I give to people wanting to try out this technique is to just go out and shoot,” he stresses. “Analyse what you have shot and how you want it different and then go out and shoot again. There’s only so much you can learn from books, articles or videos. What it really boils down to is hands-on experience. Knowing in a snap second what you have to do to get the shot that’s in your head, and translate it to the settings on your camera is what it all boils down to. And that comes from experience. When you’re witnessing an amazing sunset or sunrise and you haven’t got your gear setup yet, you’re going to want to have that experience to avoid making any mistakes!”

Workflow is key in timelapse and hyperlapse filming, too. “All my files are dated because if you are shooting thousands of photos in different sequences on a project you need to keep everything fully structured. So you can piece it all together,” he reveals.

© Matthew Vandeputte

Filming the stars in hyperlapse brings a whole new visual experience to the viewer.

“I shoot one shot every three or four seconds, and if I shoot 20 sequences in a day that’s 2500 images. I import them into Adobe Lightroom 5 so I can see all the thumbnails and from there I can see the sequences. You then separate all the sequences and name them, and grade them all, again using Lightroom. I apply the settings to all the images in the sequence and then export them as full-res JPEGs to Adobe After Effects (a digital motion graphics, visual effects and compositing software).

“From there I create a project, before then making a composition, applying the warp stabilizer (which removes jitter caused by camera movement, making it possible to transform shaky, handheld footage into steady, smooth sequences) and then export the sequence as a film. When you think about it, the individual images I shot are really just frames of a film anyway. But by mixing aspect ratios, fast editing and adding the music they can take on a life of their own.”

Looking ahead

Since working on the Tomorrowland video, Vandeputte made friends with Abraham Joffe at Untitled Film Works in Sydney, Australia, and now finds himself regularly travelling down under to work on films for him.

© Matthew Vandeputte

Matthew Vandeputte’s most recent hyperlapse film has been from an aircraft. This is the view from his window, which will make it onto his finished project. Stunning!

“Working with Abe has been great,” he enthuses. I’ve been lucky enough to meet the right people and have been working on different projects and shoots ever since I started travelling to Australia,” he reveals. “I’m now giving timelapse workshops based in Sydney and I believe timelapse and hyperlapse photography is gaining more and more traction in everyday shoots as people keep on looking for new and innovative techniques to use. “

“Life is going good for me, I have to say. At the end of last year I completed my showreel and it got 300,000 views in two days, which I cannot believe. It tells me that people are really getting interested in this technique, and I’m glad I am one of the few to start building it into a career. For someone who works in slow motion, things are certainly going fast for me...”

Matthew Vandeputte’s top tips for hyperlapse technique


  • Preparatory work is essential before you start shooting. Know where your hyperlapse will start and end to ensure proper final framing and a neat finish.
  • Hyperlapse filming works best on a flat surface. If the surface is uneven your film will appear jittery.
  • Shoot more than you need. Start and finish further away than you think. When you come to render, at 24fps or more, you will end up with a shorter video than you realise.
  • Mark your chosen hyperlapse pathway, especially in public places. Use water-soluble chalk and measuring tape to mark the path of where you will be setting up.
  • Get a tripod: hyperlapse filmmaking involves moving the camera between intervals. The final movie is meant to show smooth streamline motion (which will be achieved later with software). A tripod will help prevent jitter and shake.
  • Use a spirit level: some cameras come equipped with an electronic level such as the EOS 5D Mark III. It is essential that you maintain a level horizon through the hyperlapse.
  • Use wide-angle lenses. Post-processing can make your images smaller, depending on how jittery your final results were. Additionally, wide-angles allow for more leeway. If you are outputting to HD or 4K, for example, you can compose better and have more scaling options open to you.

Technical

Matthew Vandeputte’s kitbag

Cameras:

EOS 5D Mark III
EOS 600D

Lenses:

EF17-40mm f/4L USM
EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM
EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM

Accessories:

Yongnuo intervalometers
MacBook Pro Retina display 15in
Manfrotto tripods
Seagate, Western Digital and Samsung 1TB mobile hard drives

Biography: Matthew Vandeputte

Matthew Vandeputte

Matthew Vandeputte is a film editor and timelapse/hyperlapse photographer. In 2012 he graduated from the RITS School of Arts in Brussels, Belgium and earned his bachelor's degree by editing Jeroen Broeckx's documentary "30 kuub" which won the VAF Wildcard, was featured at the International Shortfilm Festival Docville in Leuven, Belgium, and was screened at the Cannes Film Festival, France. His first commercial success came when he created footage for the award winning festival ‘Tomorrowland’ in Belgium as part of the official aftermovie crew. Recent shoots have taken him to Germany, Italy, Israel and Australia. Today Matthew is working on a number of different projects with Sydney as his new base.