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Learn how to speed up time and create compelling visual effects with time-lapse photography. Join Rich Harrington in the field as he captures nature's patterns at Red Rock Canyon in southwestern Nevada, and shows how to frame your scene and choose the proper camera settings. He'll show you how to capture great images, whether you're using a DSLR camera and a motorized slider or just a smartphone you have handy. Then join him back in the studio to transform your still footage into a storytelling time-lapse video, using tools like Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and Final Cut Pro.
This course was created and produced by Rich Harrington. We are honored to host this content in our library.
Rich: As we established, this is about a half hour to set up. So obviously, you don't want to watch us do it in real time. But Kieth, there are several major components here. And just explaining the process, and we'll show folks what's involved. Keith: Well the first thing you want to do is, you want to establish your shot. Now when you're actually using the Kessler Slider, or using any kind of time-lapse, you really want a, a foreground subject, to move off of. This is very important. It's not just like you're taking a, a regular background shot. You really want something to move off of. So here, we chose this cactus, and then we're going to use the background -- the, the mountains as our background subject. Rich: I see we have two tripods here, so.
Keith: Mm-hm. Rich: So, obviously, you don't want to just set this on the ground. We need a, a nice stable platform. Keith: Mm-hm. Rich: But it doesn't look like your tripods are particularly level, I ge, guess it's okay in this case to have dramatic angles, right? Keith: I, we like to, to go up a little bit. You can create much more depth in the image. Rich: Okay so you tend to go at an angle to the shot so that it could be a sideways angle, but by having that tilt. Keith: Uh-huh. Rich: It adds more drama, right? Keith: Oh, absolutely and every, every subject's different. So, you can really do whatever you feel like doing. Rich: Okay, so we've got that placed and I see that you've got, sort of a gear, pulley type system, motorized.
What's this piece up here, at the top? Keith: this piece right here? Rich: Yeah. Keith: This piece is a (INAUDIBLE) head. usually, you can just go up and down with the slider and put the bullhead on top of that. But with the pan and tilt head it allows us while we're traveling up and down to go left, right, and tilt upward and out. Rich: So you basically have two axis of motion. So you're going to have a sliding movement, but then you could add even more drama with the camera sweeping through the scene. Keith: Yeah, so imagine you're at night and shooting at Joshua Tree. Instead of just going straight across it, you could actually, now, you can rotate almost entirely around it. Or create the illusion of rotating entirely around the subject. Rich: That's very very cool.
So we've got all these pieces together. I see on top of the camera, looks like a control unit. Lots of wires and cables, and you play Donkey Kong with this, right? Keith: Pretty much, yeah. Rich: What is this giant box that we have here? Keith: Well these are the two Oracle controllers. One of the Oracle controllers actually moves the speed of the, the slider unit itself. And then the other one controls the pan and tilt head itself. Rich: So, so do you need two people to operate this? Keith: usually, yeah, I do. Rich: Okay, I guess it's kind of hard to sit there with two controllers. (LAUGH) Left, I meant right. Keith: Well, one person can operate it fairly easily, yeah.
Rich: Okay, so we have a joystick-type unit, it looks a lot like a traditional video game joystick, with a few extra buttons. But, are you manually operating this live, or do you have to program it? Keith: Well, you actually program. What you do is you pick your start point. You set your composition and you pick your end point and set your composition. Then you actually use this to program the in between. You program the speed, all that stuff. Rich: Okay, so, in other words as it's moving since this is not a moving video shot. It's going to go ahead and it's going to do subtle movements, right? It has to stop along the way? Keith: Yeah, we actually do shoot move shoot.
So let's say it actually shoots about 500 photographs. And it'll go about a millimeter every photograph. Rich: Wow. That's a, that's a high precision motor there. That's probably one of the main factors of the cost. Now, what is the second unit controlling? Keith: The second unit controls the pan and tilt access for the, the pan and tilt head. Rich: And are there any ways to actually control the camera? Can you do wrapping in the camera? Or, can you make any adjustments while it's recording? Keith: Well, actually if you use aperture priority, that way you can get the Holy Grail shot where the sun actually rises through a time-lapse. Those are extremely difficult to get but, that's the only real way. Rich: Alright.
Well, very very cool. We've got all these pieces set up. And I think what people are going to want to see next is how you actually program the move. So, I'm going to step out of the way. And let's get you in position, and just walk people through the process of key framing this. And this sounds like it's a lot like animation. Maybe, like, After Effects, where you set a start and end position. Keith: Mm-hm. Rich: All right, cool. Let me get out of the way and let Keith do his thing.
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