Monday, 8 September 2014

Hyperlapse: The Hottest New App You Should Be Using

Time-lapse photography has been a growing passion of mine over the last year. When you string together hundreds or thousands of photos and play them back at 24 frames per second, you can demonstrate the changes that occur over a few hours in a matter of seconds. The new Hyperlapse app from Instagram seems to still be a work in progress, but already I'm very impressed with the result I can get with just three minutes of video. Here are some things I've learned about the app over the past week, some tips and tricks that will hopefully help you get the most out of this great new app.

1. Watch out for your battery life.
This app will suck your battery dry in minutes if you're not careful. I shot about 15 minutes worth of video and drained ~40% of my battery; that's worse than streaming video! Luckily the Hyperlapse doesn't seem to be affected at all by the phone charging while shooting (though if you're shooting longer chunks during hotter months, you may experience some overheating problems). I'm pretty ok with this since, if I'm charging while shooting, I can wrap the cord around something for added stability.

2. Aim for about three minutes of video.
Any time I shoot time-lapse, I aim to produce about 15 seconds worth of end result video. This gives enough tail end on either side of the 5-10 second clip an editor will likely use. But, it also gives me a long enough clip to use if I wanted to combine all my work together into a reel. Three minutes worth of video sped up 6x will produce 30 seconds of video, and sped up 12x will produce 15 seconds. 90% of the Hyperlapses I've shot have looked best at 12x speed, therefore I recommend shooting about three minutes of video.

3. Use a tripod if possible.
If you're shooting a static scene (your camera doesn't move at all) you should try to use a tripod. The app will stabilize your footage for you but this really works best when the camera itself is moving. If you hand hold a static for three minutes you'll just end up with a static shot that kind of bounces around like the logos on old DVD player loading screens. If you don't carry a tripod everywhere you go like I do, you're probably not out of luck. Find yourself a flat surface with something to lean your phone against and you're good to go, just make sure you're close by to snatch your phone if it falls.

4. Try to visualize the end result, not what you're currently seeing.
This can be a difficult thing to do without some practice. As you're setting up your shot, try to think about what the scene will look like three minutes from now an what will have changed in those three minutes. This is critical to a good Hyperlapse because if nothing changes in you shot, you're going to have a relatively boring 15-30 seconds of video. Things like traffic, people, clouds, etc. can all be captured moving fairly quickly in the span of three minutes, so practice with these things first to get the hang of what you can and cannot capture in a short window.

5. Edit your Hyperlapses.
There are dozens of free editing apps in the app store that allow you to trim, crop and adjust your video in many ways that will make it much more interesting than the video straight out of Hyperlapse. You can use Instagram's interface, which I've found is a powerful little editor, or you can use video specific editors, like Videoshop, which will let you combine multiple videos and even add a voice over, music, or sound effects if you'd like.

I'm very excited to continue using Hyperlapse to create some nice looking video. It's simple and very intuitive to use, and while I'd definitely like to see some UI improvements in the future, having the ability to shoot Hyperlapses with my iPhone is truly incredible. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for this app!

Have you used Hyperlapse yet? What has your impression been? Let us know in the comments and tweet your masterpieces to @swagger_media!

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