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How To Remove All People and Cars From Your Video Time Lapse

I recently came across this beautiful "IR" time-lapse of an empty Philadelphia city and was instantly mesmerized by the lack of moving things like people or cars. Upon further investigation on the technique, I was surprised on how easy this was to actually do myself in FCP X, which adds considerable value to your time-lapse videos. I followed the comments of this video to Ross Ching, a filmmaker that inspired the creating of this video. I've posted a link to the original website below.

This is video is great example of how beautiful IR video can be. I think Bruce Berry did an excellent job color grading, and the masking done to create this affect was awesome. Bruce says "This time-lapse was inspired by the “Empty America Series” by Ross Ching and the Nibiran jungle scene in Star Trek Into Darkness. When I first saw the scene in Star Trek, it made me wonder how color infrared would look if we could see it with our own eyes, unaided by IR filters." To me, this gives a very strong Walking Dead feel to the footage. I think while this is something that should rarely be used, it should be understood and  be another arrow in your quiver as a filmmaker.

Here is the original article I found on how Ross Ching creates this affect so easily. Check out his instruction on how he made the vacant landscape look.

Running on Empty


What do you guys think of the technique? Can you tell that the video is actually blended together with still images?

Gary Winchester Martin's picture

Gary W. Martin is a commercial photography producer and founder of PRO EDU. His company creates documentary style Photography and Photoshop tutorials with some of the best photographer/instructors in the world. Gary has spent 20% of his life abroad and once made a monkey faint in Costa Rica. He speaks English and Romanian.

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Quick tip:
For creating an "empty" frame - check out the function named Statistics under File / Scripts...
There are ways that photoshop can remove all moving subjects from a series of photos and leave just static ones... automatically.

Awesome results, and the IR looks great. I think most people wouldn't notice, but to a video/photo person's eye, they can probably catch on that the shadows from sunlight on the masked areas aren't moving because it's a photoshopped still.

Nice, but can i do this with my first time-laps at http://www.flickr.com/photos/gipukan/9458547003/ it a verry bussy taxi park in africa.

You can mask the buses too. Turn them all into clouds. LoL

in israel you don't have to fake it. There is one day in each year that no cars are moving. Yom Kippur, a holiday in israel. But there are people, that would have to be maked out.

check this:

Squirrel @ 30 seconds.

Well, I guess it's not always usable. When clouds are passings by, covering the sun, you get certain shadows on the roads, they dance around. So a static image of a drive way that doesn't change in exposure throughout a sequence is very strange to look at. :)

Thanks for sharing. BTW - "Ross Ching creates this affect so easily" should be "effect"

"The *e*ffect used in this video really *a*ffects the mood of the piece."