Noosa two day timelapse production

How do you tackle a two day timelapse shoot? Let me walk you through my approach.

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A few weeks ago Tourism Queensland emailed me asking if I was available to shoot a timelapse video of the Noosa Food and Wine festival. I love food, I love wine, and I love shooting timelapses!

Luckily my calendar was empty and we booked it in. If you remember my last gig with Tourism Queensland you’ll appreciate the fact that this timelapse shoot will span over a few days and isn’t as crazy timing wise as the previous one.

Details about the project:

What better way to introduce a place than to use the Google definition: “Noosa is an Australian resort area on southern Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Known for its heavy surf, Sunshine Beach is backed by cafes and boutiques. A coastal trail runs north past the beaches of Noosa National Park, home to koalas around Tea Tree Bay.”

When I got asked if I could shoot the Noosa Food and Wine festival the only thing on my mind when I was opening up my calendar was: “please be free, please be free!” I’ve been to Noosa a few times and I love it there. An amazing destination, paired with a paid campaign to produce timelapse, hyperlapse, drone/aerial, slow motion and video content for one of my favourite tourism boards is a dream come true.

This time around it would be a two day shoot and overnight edit. The plan was to shoot Friday and Saturday and have the video go live across all social media channels on Sunday midday. Here’s how we did it.

What are the main challenges on an overnight timelapse project:

Timelapse photography doesn’t just take a long time to shoot, it also takes an incredibly long time to edit. A pretty basic rule is one day of shooting equals two days of editing. Because this project once again required a near overnight edit there is no time to shoot dozens of sequences consisting of hundreds or thousands of RAW photo frames. Classically these frames have to be colour graded and rendered in Lightroom and After Effects. This takes an enormous amount of time, especially on a mobile editing system (even my fully specced out macbook pro struggles with the total workload). I opted for two Canon 6DMkII cameras as the main cameras for the timelapse shoot. The built in timelapse movie mode produces a 4K timelapse video file with no post processing required. Ofcourse you are sacrificing the ability to colour grade (it fades in comparison to a RAW file) but the amount of time you win obviously makes up for that.

What gear did we use to make this project possible:

Note: The Teradek Vidiu seems to be limited in it’s bandwidth and bitrate. No matter the connection I can not get a high enough quality image out of it. That, paired with an excruciatingly slow start up time and lots of points of failure makes for a less than ideal piece of kit. I am looking into other options for DSLR livestreaming.

How to pull off a project with such a tight timeline:

You can’t do this by yourself. Well you can I guess but I wouldn’t recommend it. Lucky for me Nicolas Rakotopare didn’t mind driving up to Noosa from the Gold Coast to assist me once again! If you’re ever in need of a professional conservationist photographer or videographer, Nico is your guy! He’s also the person to thank for the many great behind the scenes photos and videos you would have seen in the timelapse production vlog. Check out his website here: Lerako.net

Now, for the solutions to such a challenging timelapse production:

Use technology to your advantage. I saved dozens of hours of post production by utilising the Canon 6DMkII 4K timelapse movie mode. I’ve done extensive tests and countless shoots to make sure I’m fully in control of this function and to make sure I fully understand it’s strengths and weaknesses. I didn’t necessarily need to upgrade from my 5DMkIII however doing so opened the door to new projects like this one.

Mobility. Pack smart and pack as light as possible. I have carbon fibre tripods to save weight. I use L series zoom lenses for multiple focal lengths in one lens. In one of my Fstop Ajna bags I can fit my full production kit, including the post production gear (laptop, charger, hard drives, headphones). It’s a lot, but it works. I can access all sorts of terrain (I wouldn’t want to be running around the beach with a roller bag) without getting too uncomfortable. The Fstop Ajna is by far my favourite camera bag I’ve ever used. I pair it with the Large Pro ICU (internal camera unit).

Data offloads and editing. There is no time to offload, colour grade and render thousands of RAW frames. Neither is there time to wait around for slow hard drives to spin up and load your footage. I work on an external solid state drive – the Samsung T5 SSD 2 terabyte model – to make sure my edit goes as fast as possible. I don’t want any bottlenecks in my workflow!

Understanding the client’s vision. It is crucial that you have a great understanding of the project and the desired outcome of your client. Having worked with lots of tourism boards in the past, as well as having worked with the specific people on this project meant that we were all ‘on the same frequency’, meaning I understood very clearly from the start what type of final product they were after. This meant that we could plan a single round of feedback to get to the end result (as opposed to two or three rounds of feedback on other projects) faster. Luckily on this project there wasn’t a single round of feedback, only a “We love it, great work!” reply.

Bucket hat and zipper pants. You need to stay sun safe, especially in Australia. A bucket hat is among the greatest tools imaginable for keeping your face and neck covered from the damaging rays of the sun. Pair it up with some zipper pants and you’re good to go rain, hail or shine! 🙂

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