Beginner Hyperlapse Tutorial

Learn how to shoot a hyperlapse the easy way. I've been a professional hyperlapse photographer for the last 5 years, allow me to share some of my knowledge.

In this tutorial I am finally teaching you the easiest way to shoot a hyperlapse! You don't need lots of money or fancy equipment, you don't need an expensive camera or lens, this technique works for any camera, even your mobile phone! I call this the beginner hyperlapse tutorial as it truly is the easiest way to shoot a hyperlapse. Don't miss the downloadable PDF at the bottom of this page.

What you need to shoot a hyperlapse the easy way:

  • A camera (DSLR, mirrorless, even a phone will do)
  • A lens (don't go wider than 24mm on a full frame)
  • A set of arms (very useful for holding up your camera)
  • A set of legs (great to move around!)
  • A subject to shoot (try and find something interesting)
  • A track to follow (look for tiles to follow, these can also be helpful to space your steps consistently)
  • Adobe After Effects or Premiere Pro (We'll be using the Warp Stabiliser VFX effect)

Here's the camera and lens I used to shoot the Sydney Opera House hyperlapse in the tutorial:

How to shoot the beginner hyperlapse:

  • Find a spot on your subject that will always be in frame
  • Turn on grid view in your view finder or in live view and align this spot with one of the cross sections or AF (autofocus) points
  • Find a track to follow, this can be go sideways, diagonally or straight ahead (or backwards even)(literally any direction, get creative, do loops, have fun)
  • Do a test run of the track, shooting a photo every few meters. This ensures your subject spot will always be in frame and you get a preview of your motion
  • Create a new folder in your camera or cover the lens and take a photo (repeat this at the end of the sequence)(this is useful in post production to signal the start and end of the shot)
  • Go to the start of your track, take a few extra steps and start shooting. Try and get comfortable. You want to end up ‘in the zone' (in a figurative sense)
  • It is crucial that your step size and photo clicking frequency remains as consistent as possible
  • When you near the end of the track shoot some more photos so you have a buffer at the start and the end
  • Wipe the sweat off your camera, let your shoulders rest (you're gonna get a mean set of shoulders from this trust me) and scroll through your photos to get a look at what you just accomplished
  • People WILL get in your way. Try and be loud but friendly when shouting ‘EXCUSE ME COMING THROUGH' and thank them when they move. When they don't move you will become very upset so yeah, don't let that happen, be loud!

How to edit the easiest hyperlapse technique:

  • Offload your footage to a hard drive
  • Import the contents of that hard drive in Adobe Lightroom using the ‘Add' method (this keeps the photos on the hard drive instead of copying them)
  • Make sure all the photos that make up the hyperlapse exist in one single folder
  • Import that folder into Adobe After Effects. If all goes well AE will automatically create a virtual video file by looking at every photo in the sequence as a video frame
  • With this collection of video frames you're gonna create a composition
  • In the Tracker window activate the Warp Stabiliser VFX or drag the effect on the sequence from the Effects window
  • Set smoothness to 10% and let it analyse. If you shot it horribly because you're new at it you might want to increase this percentage
  • Create a new composition from the one you just stabilised and repeat the Warp Stabiliser process. Do this as many times as necessary
  • Export the composition as a video file, create an edit and upload it online hoping to get lots of likes

If you tag me in your post or use the hashtag #matjoezhyperlapse I might see the fruits of your labour!

Extra notes:

Obviously this is the easiest way to shoot a hyperlapse. You can get more complex shots by using tripods, wheels, dollies, stabilisers etc. If there's enough demand for any of that I might expand on those. If you want to learn how to shoot a hyperlapse on a gimbal check out this blog post or watch the gimbal hyperlapse tutorial video here.

If you want to learn more about timelapse, why not check out some previous blog posts?

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