05 Mar House of Cards Timelapse project
I’ve started another movie project. It’s not finished yet, so I wanted to tell you a bit about it but also give you a few tips if you’re interested in doing more mobile movie making yourself.
This project is time consuming – quite literally time consuming.
I love time lapse photography. With analogue photography it was a very time consuming effort and I didn’t do that much. However, with the time lapse apps now available for laptops and phones I’ve been time lapsing all over the place!
I got the bug again in 2010, using time lapse as a way of capturing some of the real world, treasure hunt games I was creating. A game that took a few hours to play could be captured in a few minutes of film and I didn’t always need to be there.
Time lapse is also great if you are documenting events where very little happens. Conferences for example can be very dull to watch – but if all you want to illustrate is the room filling up ahead of the event then time lapse is perfect.
Combine these film making tools with social media (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest) and your phone becomes the perfect documentation device.
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Time lapse on TV
Just over a year ago I noticed a (kind of) trend in the use of time lapse on TV. Breaking Bad often used little time lapse sequences to illustrate the passing of time and the recent Netflix adaptation of House of Cards uses time lapse exclusively in its opening sequence.
The House of Cards title sequence is a series of 2-3 second shots of Washington DC. That was when the idea struck me. In my head, so many of those shots could be replicated in my local city of Dundee. I should recreate a Dundee version of the sequence!
The idea went on the back burner for a while, but with the new series of House of Cards now out on Netflix, and with a bunch of time lapse shot already in the bag from other projects, I’ve decided to give it a go.
Shots of Dundee’s McManus that may well find their way into this new film
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HoC around the world
I didn’t expect to be the first person to think of this and if you go on Youtube you’ll find a few versions – London, and Paris being two. However, most of them use much longer shots (therefore half as many shots required) than in the original and it struck me that I couldn’t find any that were shot-for-shot. So this is the brief I have set myself.
The original sequence is 38 shots. I can’t have every shot set up exactly the same but I am putting thought into what the Dundee equivalent building or location might be. I’m also following the ‘dawn ’til dusk’ pattern of the original.
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All of the tools I’m using for this project have been reviewed on this blog in the past – so what follows is something of a retrospective of those posts.
Camera – iPhone
Mostly, if not exclusively, I’ll be capturing footage on my iPhone. I’m now on a the iPhone 6 and I have no complaints about the camera at all.
Software – iMotion
For the HoC project I’m using iMotion (formerly iMotionHD). There are other similar apps (as you’ll see next) but for me, iMotion remains the cleanest, most intuitive and effective application for time lapse photography as well as stop frame animation. I have in on my iPhone and on my iPad and use it in lots of different ways as you’ll see in all of the related posts.
Read more: Take Your Time
Software – MagicLapse
I’ve been using iMotion for almost four years, but a new app for me is MagicLapse. I’ve only tested this once so far (see below) but i’m hopeful for what it promises to deliver. Magic Lapse combines time lapse photography with long exposures. Every shot is captured over half a second or so and, as you can imagine, capturing light trails from vehicles as it gets darker could be pretty spectacular.
The test I carried out was in a moving vehicle while it was raining. While I liked the ‘fireworks’ effect I’ll be using this for static shots (hopefully in the dry) to capture the movement of the traffic. I’ll let you know how it works out.
Device – X-Lapse by Muvi
X-Lapse is a little clockwork device that moves a camera or phone one degree every second to help you capture smooth panoramic time-lapse images.
The official House of Cards sequence includes various camera moves which I won’t be able to replicate – they would have used computer motion-controlled camera dollies and cranes). X-lapse will at least help me to achieve some nice pan-shots.
Read more: X-Lapse
Device – GorillaPod by Joby
Finally, for the still shots I will be relying on my trusted Joby GorillaPod with the Joby Grip Tight attachment. Again, a tool that I’ve been using for a few years now and remains very reliable – especially as the equipment that is entrusted to it is not cheap. The feet are magnetic (up to albs in weight) and the GripTight is exactly that.
Again, read more for more examples of the products at work: GorillaPod
House of Cards Project
So, I’m going to drip feed shots (as above) every now and then – you’ll find a few on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #HoC_DNDs4s (which stands for House of Cards, Dundee, Shot for Shot).
Hope you enjoy following the process and the final film should be with you very soon.
Read more about the creation of the House of Cards time lapse sequence by ‘District 7’.