Can Anyone Figure Out How This Timelapse Was Filmed?

The guys at T-Recs (short for timelapse recordings) created a timelapse video that is unlike anything I have seen before. We have all seen timelapse videos that have camera movement but nothing like this. Some how these guys are making really big moves, almost like they are shooting out of an airplane. Anyone know how this sort of thing is done?

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Must have been shot on some sort of massive jib.

Seshan's picture

Could be just shot on some kind of vehicle and they just crop the images to stable them out.

Sankey Photography's picture

No firsthand knowledge, but it appears to be an intervalometer-triggered camera, probably mounted on a fluid head in a clamp on top of a car/jeep/vehicle for the ground shots; some on roads, some on overpasses.  The early 2 or 3 that are from a higher perspective could've been on an elevated road, ski lift, gondola, etc.  The cloud effect in the beginning was very cool; if that's non-photoshopped, I'd have to guess at a mountaintop cloud swirl around dusk.

Just my $.02 - could be dead wrong.  (But I bet I'm at least partially correct.)

Brian Hawkins's picture

Could also have been a riding on dolly track with the operators leap-frogging sections of track as it goes along.  Possibly also an RC helicopter transit, stabilized in post (would have plenty of resolution to spare for this if shooting 21MP or so).  Vehicles, as stated above, are also quite likely.

No idea but it is cool! They appear to be keeping it a secret.

im thinking some from a vehicle and some from a tripod that is either one wheels or they just really took care while moving it from shot to shot.  cool video

Maybe they found a solution a create a slider in several parts that can be unmounted and than added at the end of the last piece and so on, so it looks like a giant slider.

arthurkendrick's picture

only two ways too do that:
1. a full size computerized dolly with track (preferably one that has the ability to move up and down too). It's huge, really expensive, and a pain to haul around but it would do shots like this easy. You just lay the track, plan your shots, and then tell the computer how much to move each second and it takes care of the rest. 
2. You could rig up a cheaper version of this with a super tight (I mean ultra tight) steel wire and a robotic computerized rig that would run along the cable. Never seen it used in time lapse but on a day without high winds and a super tight cable you might be able to pull it off. Since it is traveling long distances the small movements wouldn't make as much a difference as it would over a shorter distance. 

that being said a couple of the shots (ones near the grapevines) looked like dolly shot IMHO. 

Max Queenan's picture

I've actually built a rig for shooting time lapse with a steel cable, and it sort of worked.  A normal, short exposure has to be used for the necessary! stabilizing in post, which will give you a stop-motion sort of look, as opposed to the longer exposures usually used in time lapses.  However, I would imagine a two cable rig like the one Sea-to-Sky cam uses would work quite well.  With a single cable design, even the slightest wind will push the camera slightly, and even half a degree of tilt is pretty obvious.

That said, I don't think they used that here.  I think they were probably from a car with a crane mounted on it, and stabilized in post.  Changing the exposure for a daylight time lapse to a normal sharp exposure gives a lot more freedom with how smooth the movement needs to be, because of the effective stabilizing in post.  There's a timelapse video called "The Sandpit" (youtube it), in which some panning shots were done handheld.  Also, in Tom Lowe's "Rapture," there is one amazing shot which I believe was done from a boat, if not then from an R/C helicopter.

I have to disagree with you about the R/C Helicopter, Ive worked with them in the past on jobs, they are not nearly stable enough to get shots like these. They wouldn't be practical for shooting a time lapse. Figure about 8-10 minutes with a 5D hung from a quadrocoptor, not long enough to do this. 

You can, with very high end equipment, set up cable dollies with a stabilizer and a programable pulley of some sort to get time-lapse videos like this accomplished. Personally thats the only practical way I see to get shots like these over the heights and distances that TRECS is shooting. 

Heres a home spun version of what I think they used:

And a much larger professional version:

'Sa Jamil Hogan's picture

The super tight wire is my guess also. Also like a zip line for a camera. 

I am saying an RC helicopter for most of it. 

'Sa Jamil Hogan's picture

While plausible I don't think you would get the needed stability out of such a method. They can only hold so much weight and the gear needed to stabilise a camera with be more than it could handle IMO

There is a guy that shoots video with a 7d on a huge helicopter (like 4-5ft wide) that has been shown on fstoppers before. You obviously couldn't do it with just a $50 RC copter.

Chithanh Tran's picture

yeah, its definitely not your mall kiosk mini helis.  I use to fly Rc helis...the $2000 versions..I've never tried to lift a dslr but I'm sure it could with a lot of effort.  You still have the problem of wind and stability.  Even the most expensive gyros to keep the heli headed in the right direction is no match for radio interference and the slightest wind gusts.  The faster it flies, the more chance of keeping things stable, if you're flying slow, forget it.

RichardMaciver's picture

yeah but to hover and get time lapses like that you'd need the rc to move extremely slow. not possible.

Aluisius Sudiarto's picture

My guess is it's from a steady cam video, stabilized and time lapsed on post-production. It would be neat to try and imitate the technique, e.g. using video footage shot from a moving train.

on their show reel number 2 they display one of their jibs/dolly type rig. I am to assume the first 3 elevated shots could easily be crated with an extended track and or like suggested above, a ski lift kinda thing.

arthurkendrick's picture

this was not shot with video and done in post, it was not shot with an R/C helicopter, it was not done with a steady cam. You cannot get the precision you need from those tools. You either need a ruler and a lot of time and precise measurements or a computerized dolly. 

Sheffield Leithart's picture

manually. take a picture with a tripod, move the tripod 2 inches and repeat. notice that the lampposts aren't always even, they seem to jitter up and down. also, on the shot at 2:00, up the vineyard, it's obvious that they're moving up stairs. if you watch the vines, they're not moving smoothly; it looks like they're stair-stepping. also, the side-to-side movement isn't always consistent. watch it again, thinking it's done manually, and it makes way more sense.

Mark Alameel's picture

The vineyard shot was the "worst" if you can say that about this great video.  I think there was a mix of technics used.  My original guess was a motorized zip wire of some kind.  However, when I got to the vinyard, I did thnk it was a manual process, or at least in that shot a series of smaller rigs.

Either way, great video.

Svend Erik Jensen's picture

In vineyard they often have some small monorails. They use them to transport the harvest as a tractor can't enter the steep fields.

Patrick Hall's picture

It's interesting, if you watch around :58 you do see an elevation and then a slope back down.  Could it be a ski lift sort of public transit?  

David Burns's picture

I thought maybe a light rail in some shots and the very last scene you see the grass intrude on the bottom of the shot indicating that maybe they're on a road/vehicle mounted job?

What if they took a video, perhaps with a RED or something that has very high resolution, then cut out every few frames? If it were done at a high enough fps, might it still look that smooth (if the frames were cut but there were enough frames taken, the camera wouldn't have moved very far so the frames that were left still appear to be continuous since the camera had only gone a few mm). Can't you pull a 14 MP still from a RED video; that ought to be enough to get an HD video out of it...

Albert Manduca's picture

Looks simple enough.. Just a timelapse, recording on a large dolly track/off a car/cable/etc. Stabilized in motion or guessing. I guess I could be wrong, but I dont see how they could do it any other way. 

Sheffield Leithart's picture

or maybe with two timelapse sliders, switching back and forth between them... when one is finished, start the next one, and move the first to the other side....?

Hmm.. I have watched it a couple times now and the thing that keeps catching my eye is how not smooth the motion is. If you watch at the bottom edge of the screen you will notice how the images jump around a bit as it is moving. To me.. it, it does not feel like it is on rails. It almost seems like it is on a tripod that gets moved for each frame. I have never made a time-lapse so maybe i'm full of pickles.. but I am just going by what I was seeing in the video.

Good Eye, didn't notice the jitter....

Raul Pop's picture

You are right. This video was shoot on a tripod or maybe a monopod. And that's why the distance is so long

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