Simple Ways to Shoot Mindblowing Hyperlapses!


Instagram’s latest app, Hyperlapse (for the moment, iOS only), has taken the world by storm. A crazily dramatic, sped up storm, more like. But while the app itself is fun and unique, getting the best out of it needs you to keep a few technical things in mind. Why Hyperlapse? That’s the first question you must ask yourself. Are you simply using the gimmickry and novelty of the technology? Or are you using it as a deliberate tool to interpret your vision? Aditya Nair tells you how to make beautiful yet bizarre videos of the world racing past.

1. Do You Really Need Hyperlapse?: This is the first thing you have to ask yourself. If all you want to do is speed up the video later, just shoot with your regular camera app. Using Hyperlapse will show a definite loss of video quality. However, if you need the added image stabilisation then this is definitely the way to go.

2. Combine Stillness & Movement: Wait for a subject to pass by in the frame while your camera is not in motion. Now move the camera till you reach the next subject and then stop while it moves. Speed up the entire process to get some interesting effects.

3. Stabilisation is Not All Knowing: While Hyperlapse’s image stabilisation lets you create smooth videos even when you are walking, it cannot fix fast jerky actions. Those are still going to come across in your videos so avoid them.

4. Keep Space at the Edges: Digital stabilisation causes videos to get cut from the side as it corrects for shake. Therefore keep enough space on the edges of your frame and avoid composing anything important there.

5. Have a Point of Interest: Fast moving videos can get boring just as quickly if there is nothing to hold the viewer’s attention. Keep a definite point of interest. It could be a person you are following or a rock where the waves hit the shore.

6. Make it Lively: The soundless Hyperlapse videos created by the app can be rather dull. Add some music using third party apps like InstaVideo.

7. Pesky Fingers: Grab the camera with all your fingers for extra stabilisation and to avoid a stray finger from entering your frame when you go over a pothole!

8. Experiment with Different Subjects: There is no good and bad subject. Fast-moving subjects are obvious choices. But think out of the box and look for subtle movements as well, subjects that may change their nature only once or twice in an entire minute. It could be ripples in a puddle or even a shadow being formed and disappearing, when clouds move past the sun.

Android users can try using LapseIt or Hyper Timelapse for the moment.

9. Focus and Exposure: While the app has autofocus and autoexposure settings, it can be a bit slow. Avoid going from shadows rapidly to highlight areas. You can help it out by tapping the part of the frame you want it to focus and expose for as well, while the video is recording. Long pressing a point on the frame will lock focus and exposure for the duration of the video.

10. Videos Need to be a LOT Longer: Since they are sped up quite a bit, you need to shoot videos that are longer than what you would normally shoot for Instagram. For example, if you need the video to be 15sec long at a 12x speed, the video will have to be 3mins. So, work backwards. You can shoot videos upto 45mins.

11. How Much Do You Speed Up?: The rule here would be to speed up as little as needed. Hyperlapse lets you speed up to 12x. Just remember the faster you speed up, the more likely it is that your audience will hurl. Let the effect not be just an effect.

12. Keep It Centered: DIgital stabilisation tries to correct for shake by making the centre steady. Keep your subject here as the edges can become wavy. Worse, sometimes, the edges may get cut, so keep some extra space while composing if the frame is going to be very unsteady.

13. Moving the Camera: If you need to move the camera, move it in a single direction. However, if for some reason you have to change direction make that change a gradual process rather than a snappy one.

14. Get Comical: Speeding up people’s movement can result in some Charlie Chaplin-esque movement. An energetic dance or even some simple gestures or expressions while talking can look hilarious.

15. Follow #Hyperlapse: Keep checking the hashtag as it is the best place for you to see what other people are doing and get some inspiration.

16. Fade, not Jump Cuts: If you are combining two Hyperlapse videos, try using a Fade between them instead of a jump cut. Since everything appears for just a fraction of a second, a jump cut can be jarring.

17. Square Crop Conundrum: While Hyperlapse lets you shoot rectangular videos, the same videos will get cropped into squares when uploaded to Instagram. You will need to keep that in mind when composing your frame. Alternatively, you can use apps like Squaready to upload them without needing to crop.

This article originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of Better Photography.

Tags: Aditya Nair, Video, Shooting, Android, techniques, iOS, Hyperlapse, october 2014, Simple Ways to Shoot Mindblowing Hyperlapses, App, Focus Exposure, LapseIt, Features