Behind the Scenes – The Heron Timelapse video
Early last year we were commissioned by Richard Gold Media to film a series of timelapse videos for a commercial piece they produced for The Heron, a collection of luxury apartments and penthouses in central London.
This was a fantastic opportunity not only to explore one of London’s newest and most exciting high rise luxury apartment buildings, and their penthouses, but also the chance to see and capture some breath taking scenery of the city. Situated a moment’s walk from Moorgate station The Heron is conveniently located within the Square Mile of London’s financial district and looks out over some of London’s iconic landmarks such as St Paul’s Cathedral, The Shard and a fantastic view south west following the river Thames.
The brief asked us to capture several shots including sunrise, exterior footage of The Heron, interior footage across several penthouses and finally a sunset. These shots would then be used as part of the final film that RGM were producing. The final piece can be viewed on The Heron’s website and was also recently featured in the Sunday Times Style Column.
Below is a short edit and showreel of the footage we captured and edited here at RoomCR6, we’ll also go into more technical details, some of the issues we overcame and a few behind the scenes photos.
This is a long blog post so we have included some jump links for you. Enjoy!
Timelapse Footage Showreel
Our set up
As our access time to The Heron was limited and also competing against the great British weather, trying to capture a sunrise and sunset at the end of February proved to be somewhat tricky, we decided to set up a two-camera operation allowing us to shoot multiple sets of footage at the same time. This required a fair amount of kit including;
- Two tripods
- Two Canon DSLRs
60D Primary camera
600D Secondary camera
- Two interval remotes
- Fours fully charged camera batteries
- Three lenses for good measure
Canon 24 – 105L (For detail and general shots)
Sigma 10 – 22 (For wide and full scene shots)
Canon 15 – 85mm (Back up lens)
- A selection of ND and Grad filters
Before arriving on location to shoot the early morning sunrise, which was around 6am and we also needed time to set up so we could capture the transition between dark night sky and morning sunrise, it was important that we had planned out the shoot and considered the exact position of sunrise, time visible light would appear, the path of the sun and how to set up the cameras. A fantastic tool we used was the iOS app – Sun Surveyor, this great little app has a bundle of fantastic features for anyone wanting to film sunrise and sunset shots. We found the 3D compass extremely useful for setting up the cameras and choosing the best direction to face, especially since we had to set up in complete darkness – see photo below, also the summary/details screen helped with planning our shoot schedule.
Behind the Scenes Photos from the Shoot
Issues & ‘The Holy Grail’ – Night to Day / Day to Night Timelapse
Once we had checked the sun’s location and set up our frames it was then time to shoot. As we were shooting a transition from night to day and later in the afternoon day to night we had to constantly balance the exposure settings to ensure we had a smooth fade, also affectionately known as ‘The Holy Grail’ of timelapse due to it’s demanding difficulty. This involved shooting in RAW and watching the camera closely for changes in exposure, then manually adjusting exposure and ISO between shots. This constant manual shifting of the exposure settings does, however, introduce other issues which can generally be seen as flicker or slight ramping in the footage.
There are many tutorials online ranging from extremely technical to a general overviews, however we found a fantastic script for Adobe Bridge that helps with ‘normalising’ the photos captured. We used David Milligan’s Deflicker Script (more info here) to smooth out the transition and to avoid the change in exposure being noticeable. This was a massive task as we had well over 8,000 photographs to go through and edi.
We specifically used the ramp feature in David’s script as it allowed us to edit the exposure levels of a photo in Photoshop’s Camera Raw to closely match the exposure levels of previous photos then blend the change over a range of photos to produce a smooth transition from night to day. This had to be done to several times because we had manually changed the exposure on the camera whilst shooting, ensuring that we had a fairly similar exposure shot each time.
Setting the exposure and colour correction in Photoshop Camera Raw before ramping between shots.
Once the initial exposure settings and colour correction was complete we then ran the ramping script.
We really loved filming this project and also working with the fantastic crew over at Richard Gold Media, not only did we get to produce a great collaborative project but we also got to see London from a very unique point of view.
If you are looking to get some timelapse footage filmed or need some advice why not get in touch with us? Simply drop us a message via the RoomCR6 contact form