Timelapse and slow motion photography are on opposite ends of the time spectrum.
We live in real time, at so called 25 or 30 frames per second, depending on which country you live in.
Timelapse photography speeds things up, slow motion… slows things down.
Combining these two types of shots works really well and creates this impossible dimension where the perception of time is fluid.
That's a bit of a heavy line so to put it simply: In this tutorial I’m going to show you how to combine slow motion and timelapse footage into one.
I’ll be showing you one specific method of doing this, you can do it multiple ways but I’ll be using an example from a recent trip to Australia’s Goldfields regions where I was shooting content for a tourism campaign.
All you need are two video files. One video has a silhouette style shot of a person. The other shot is a timelapse as a backdrop. Keep reading if you want to know how to download the clips I used in this tutorial.
We're going to remove everything but the silhouette from the silhouette shot and composite that on top of the timelapse shot.
There are a few things you can do to make your life easier so let's start with those first.
How to shoot the slow motion silhouette clip
- The higher the resolution the better. Having more pixels in your shot means that the software has more data to work with. The backdrop removal process will be more accurate and look sharper.
- Use a tripod to lock off your shot. You can shoot handheld but then you'll have to stabilise the shot in post. Shooting the silhouette from a tripod can save you a lot of time in post production.
- Shoot similar angles and focal lengths. It will be easier to pair up both shots when you shoot them at a similar focal length and shooting angle. In my example it's clear that both shots were shooting straight towards the sunset.
- Nail your focus. It's hard to accurately extract a silhouette from a background when your frame isn't 100% in focus.
How to shoot the timelapse clip
I shot a day to night (aka holy grail) timelapse sequence using the LRTimelapse manual method.
The shots contains over 2000 RAW photographs, recorded over more than an hour.
Use this post here to learn how to shoot a sunset timelapse or check out my brand new e-book The Ultimate Timelapse Guide for a more complete tutorial and multiple ways of shooting and editing timelapse footage.
How to combine slow motion and timelapse clips in after effects
- Open up Adobe After Effects. Get a free trial of the software here.
- Import both the slow motion and the timelapse clip.
- Create a new composition and adjust the resolution and frame rate to your desired settings.
- Place both clips into the composition, making sure that the silhouette clip is on top of the timelapse clip.
- Add the Luma Key effect to the slow motion clip and adjust the settings to remove all the brighter pixels. These settings will be different for every shot so there's no point in me sharing what I used.
- Play around with the framing, playback speed and placement of both clips to get a cohesive end result.
- Add an adjustment layer on top to add extra colour grading to both clips.
- Export the composition to a new video file. I like using the Apple ProRes 422 codec.
In case you don't have any footage yourself you can download the two clips I used in this tutorial from my Patreon page here.
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If you'd like to learn how to create your own amazing timelapses check out my new e-book The Ultimate Timelapse Guide. It features everything you need to know about shooting basic and advanced timelapses, as well as how to edit them with different kinds of software. It features a timelapse motion control gear discount code and comes with a handy file management template.