Filmmakers: Use Your RED Camera for Time-Lapses

You’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars on a fantastic camera body that outputs 5K or 8K imagery, but the film you’re working on requires some time-lapse b-roll for transitions. Instead of breaking out that DSLR, you can set up your RED camera to shoot that time-lapse and use the near same post-processing as you would for the filmed imagery you are currently capturing.

This exact scenario is being worked by Jakob Owens for a television show and he’s using his RED camera in a novel way, as an “almost” stills camera to create a quick time-lapse for the project that will seamlessly fit with the postproduction being done already. The footage being compiled from the RED Camera for the time-lapse is basically automated to be shown again at the correct frame rate immediately after capture. The post-processing for the imagery and video is just about the exact same for the 1 frame per second exposures as the normal frame rate because both images are being shot on the same camera body. Besides a possible need for a small adjustment to fix any color cast from an ND filter, the nearly identical post-processing can be done on the time-lapse imagery thus keeping a consistent look that’s not time-consuming. 

A few filmmakers have applied this technique before but rarely has anyone simply explained what they were doing for a RED camera time-lapse. I personally think that it’s always great to eek out a bit more flexibility in our equipment and lower the time commitment in post if possible. Combining both together is a great way to make your production a smoother process while giving yourself options for establishing shots, transitions, and b-roll.

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