May 24, 2015

Tutorial: Seamlessly Blending Live-Action & Timelapse for a Stunningly Surreal Effect

Live-Action Timelapse Composite Rhino Motion
Motion timelapse is a surreal effect in and of itself. When you composite live-action footage atop said motion timelapse, the effect becomes indescribably beautiful. And the best part? It's pretty damn simple to accomplish.

Kyle Hart, founder of Rhino Camera Gear (who has a history of putting together awesome tutorials), recently shared another kickass tutorial with the world, this time showing how to create live-action timelapse composites in a few simple steps. Check it out:

There are several stringent requirements for making this technique work, at least if you want the post production process to be relatively simple. First and foremost, you need a motion control system (like the one that was just successfully Kickstarted by Rhino) that allows you to shoot both live action and timelapse clips at the exact same speed of movement. This is simple to set up, as it just requires that the slider move the same distance for both clips, and that both clips have the same final duration. The Rhino Motion system makes this absurdly simple (I've been testing it for the past few weeks, and programming moves is about as straightforward as it gets), but other motion control systems might require a little more deft calculation in order to make sure the final duration of your timelapse matches your live-action clip. 

Secondly, since the compositing here is essentially based on keying out the sky in the live-action clip, the best results come when the subject (or subjects) in the live-action clip are shot as a silhouette. Kyle's ground rules for shooting proper silhouettes are to avoid shooting into the sun (flares will be a dead giveaway that something is amiss in the final composite) and that you avoid shooting against mountains, water, or other highly detailed backgrounds since they can be very difficult to key.

Once you've shot both your timelapse and live-action clip, the post production process is actually really simple. All you've got to is throw both clips into a timeline in your NLE (with the live-action shot on top), key the silhouette in the live-action clip, and then invert the matte so that it's actually the sky that ends up getting keyed out and not the silhouette. Outside of some color manipulation to make sure that you can pull as clean a key as possible, that's literally all there is to it. Sure, this effect might not have many practical uses outside of looking really damn cool, but for how simple it is to pull off, I'd say it's definitely something worth trying.

Be sure to check out Kyle's post on the Rhino blog for his exact Premiere Pro effect settings for pulling this off, as well as some additional information about the challenges of making this work seamlessly.     

Your Comment

13 Comments

If only Three Way Color Corrector wasn't broken in Premiere Pro CC. Can't believe that after this many updates, it still breaks my projects with crazy flickering once applied.

May 24, 2015 at 6:28PM

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Tim
399

Yep, I feel your pain...

May 25, 2015 at 3:39AM

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Adrian Tan
Videographer
889

Don't know what the deal is with the double post, by the way. But anyway...

May 25, 2015 at 3:40AM

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Adrian Tan
Videographer
889

So if Adobe cant get it fixed by the fourth update, they should go back to selling instead of the rental sham???

May 25, 2015 at 4:30AM

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Gilly
230

My theory is it only happens on some operating system/hardware combos and they just don't care enough to fix something for a minority of users. It's crazy... just adding the effect causes the project to flicker permanently. Even after removing the effect it's still there. Only solution is to select-all and copy-paste into a newly created project. Crazy, right??

May 25, 2015 at 4:54AM

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Tim
399

Tim, how does that work? You select and copy all clips in a timeline, close project, reimport everything, then paste into new timeline?

May 25, 2015 at 6:22PM

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Adrian Tan
Videographer
889

This isn't really a solution for the problem. This is to fix a broken project due to accidentally using the effect. For instance, an assistant editor of mine used it to color correct some footage, and when the project was broken (flickering) when he sent it over to me. In order to fix it, I removed all instances of Three-Way Color Corrector, selected everything on the timeline, then copied and pasted it into a brand new file/project/timeline. I don't use that effect any more but it continues to give me problems as I grow my business.

May 25, 2015 at 8:13PM

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Tim
399

I haven't experienced that particular problem, but an easier way to fix the few bugs I've come across is to create a new project and then import the entire old project into it. No copy/pasting needed. Not sure whether or not that would work for your flicker issue, but it might be worth a try.

May 28, 2015 at 9:10AM

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Ben Yonker
Cinematographer
79

Have you tried rendering in Media Encoder vs. the Premiere exporter? I get much less errors when doing it that way. Might work for the flicker.

May 26, 2015 at 12:07PM

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Dan Hoene
261

Thanks, Robert!

May 24, 2015 at 6:30PM, Edited May 24, 6:30PM

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Alex Zakrividoroga
Director
4032

Wow........Great video and article! Just wondering if you could achieve the same effect by green or maybe blue screening? Lighting the green or blue screen 1 stop over and not lighting the subjects.
Could save on location costs?

May 26, 2015 at 6:28AM, Edited May 26, 6:33AM

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Jerry Roe
Indie filmmaker
1050

Cool effect, but it's a basic sky replacement with timelapse footage in the background. If you are doing silhouettes, you could use 3D layering to add foreground objects to achieve parallax. This would be pretty easy to make using stock footage...don't even need a camera.

May 29, 2015 at 9:25PM, Edited May 29, 9:25PM

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Ryan Gudmunson
Recreational Filmmaker
803

Really cool. Excited to test some of this out.

June 2, 2015 at 1:33PM

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Tim Ryan
Filmmaker
253