time lapse

Ready, Aim...

“Sight” – Shooting at 102 Degrees

We opened principal photography on our new short Sight last Saturday, shooting VFX shots outside on the hottest day of the year.  With our thermometer reading 102 degrees in the shade, we unpacked our gear in a dead end alley in South Philly.  We drew up Sam Hall’s old green screen, stretched between two light stands and secured with clamps and rope.

shooting at 102

Keeping one eye on the mouth of the alley, Sam Lodise strapped on a set of kneepads and took up a hunting rifle. He trained it on the camera in front of him, his eye steel – cold orbs.

shooting at 102

As the day wore on, the camera became too hot to touch.  We applied and reapplied wet towels and ice packs in hope of warding off the dreaded “overheat” warning.  All the while, Sam Hall crouches in front of the camera, squinting down his viewfinder adapter and making minute adjustments to the placement of the rifle.

shooting at 102

shooting at 102

Sweat poured.  After each take we passed around a spray bottle and took turns dowsing ourselves.  Our spare bottles of water rapidly heated, baking on the pavement.

shooting at 102

Finally, the final shot was printed and we wrapped.  We retired to a living room full of Pacifico and South Philly hoagies.  Another day in the life.

* All photos courtousy of Elizabeth.  See more of her work on flickr.

Screen shot 2012-03-24 at 8.30.14 PM

Faking HDR Timelapses

I spent a weekend in upstate New York last fall, shooting almost exclusively time lapses.

Upon editing the footage, I found myself struggling with contrast corrections.  Many of the shots had to have shadows brightened, which blew out the sky.  I could have shot HDR, but that opens a whole new realm of workflow problems, not to mention triples my images.

As usual, After Effects provides the solution.

I precomposed the layer, then duplicated the precomp.  Each precomp got its own individual color grading, one focusing on shadows, the other on highlights.  Then, in the main composition, I simply masked out the appropriate places, such as the sky.  The result is a fairly convincing portrayal of HDR in an easy to digest workflow.

While this process isn’t a replacement for true HDR, it is a useful workaround for those times when you can’t handle the image load or the workflow.  It’s fast, easy, and work great.