Sunday, August 03, 2008

Experimenting with Time Lapse

Despite the hot, muggy weather - and it being Summer and all - I managed to catch a cold from a colleague at work last week and on Friday felt so ill that although I made it into the office, half an hour later I set off back home for a hot bath, Lemsip and bed. Not good for the cashflow, but what can you do?!

Alas, the cold seems to have totally messed up my sleep patterns, which are sporadic at the best of times, such that at 4am this morning I was still wide awake, not feeling at all sleepy.

So I decided I might as well just get up and head off to South Bank and try and film the dawn, using the time lapse feature on my Sony PMW-EX1 camera.

Alas, it may have been warm and muggy when I left the flat at around 4.15am, decked out only in a thin t-shirt, shorts and sandals, but by 5.30am it was distinctly cold, and by 6am it was raining that annoying thin drizzle that we only seem to get here in the UK. Net result is that it was pretty much the worst thing I could have done, most certainly hasn't helped my cold recovery time, and the rest of the day is going to be pretty much a write-off as I try and catch up on sleep.

Cold and wet I had to give up on the filming, since it was clear the sun was never going to come out, but here are a couple of scenes I shot (just over a minute - nothing too time-consuming to watch) that show the 'time lapse' feature I'm talking about:

Time lapse is rather more difficult than I'd anticipated. I haven't found any way to lengthen the interval time so it takes less than one frame a second (although I guess I could use the 'stop animation' feature for that if need be) and you have to do some funky stuff with the shutter settings to 'smooth out' movement that would otherwise be so jerky it's really unwatchable. However this shutter adjustment makes using the LCD to line things up extremely difficult as suddenly it's like having a display that responds to movement etc 12 seconds after it's happened, and then displays only a streaky image to help.

Alas, there's a couple of nasty changes in the exposure about half to two-thirds of the way into the clip above because the 'zebra' function on the camera which warns about over-exposure was suddenly going crazy as the light started to increase. I over-reacted and adjusted the aperture setting when really I think I'd have got away with just leaving things as they were.

Anyway, it was an interesting exercise, and I'll be going back to try it again when the weather's a bit less inclement. I must say I LOVE using this camera - almost as much as I love editing and playing around with video. So, despite being cold and wet it was nice to have the chance to use the camera for something other than just filming user group talks, which don't really lend themselves to a lot of creativity.

What surprised me most about my little excursion this morning was the number of people walking around at that time of a morning. It seems that Vauxhall is full of gay people heading out TO (not from!) nightclubs at around 4.30am on a Sunday!


Anonymous said...

Sorry the sun was missing for you but it's still a good clip which clearly shows daylight dawning. I'm impressed with how smooth the images run, the time lapse function is clearly worth having. I look forward to seeing your further experiments with it. Hope the cold subsides soon.

Ian said...

Thanks for the kind words. I'm away next weekend, but maybe the weekend after I'll get a chance to experiment more.

Anonymous said...

The water and sky are gorgeous in the first one, and somehow the "rushing" people in the second are comical. I think they both are spot-on. Thanks so much for posting them!

Ian said...

Thanks ro! Actually two of the rushing people (on the far side of the road) WERE very comical. At that time of the morning it was mainly people staggering out of night clubs and that couple were all over the place - still drunk trying to prop each other up. I was worried they might cross over the road and stagger into my tripod!