Rotobrush 2 TIMELAPSE tutorial


A few weeks ago I made the following video creation for Mental Health Week in the UK.

The piece depicts my impression of loneliness as a creative in a world rapidly returning back to normal.

If you want to find out more about this please read the caption on the post.

If you want to know more about loneliness and the effects it can have on mental health please go here.

Keep on reading to find out how I planned, shot and edited this timelapse video!

Now when I shared this post on both Instagram and Reddit I got a really surprising amount of supportive comments, including many people asking me how I made it.

If you know me, you know I love sharing knowledge and timelapse tutorials so let's have a look at how I made this.

If you prefer a written tutorial then you can keep reading below the embedded video.

Now let's have a look at how to use Rotobrush 2.0 to combine timelapse and video clips.

What do you need?

You will need three things:

  • A static video of yourself
  • A static timelapse shot from the exact same spot
  • A copy of Adobe After Effects. You can download a free 30-day trial here. (links on this page may be affiliate links)

How to shoot?

The shoot concept is super simple, you pretty much just need to shoot a timelapse and a normal video from the exact same spot.

The only difference is the exposure settings, with the timelapse being slower shutter speeds obviously.

For this, I used a 10-stop ND filter which allowed me to shoot half-second exposures. My preferred filter brand is Polar Pro. Find out what other gear I use on the gear page here.

After shooting the timelapse for about 500 frames, I then ran into the frame for the video shot and did a couple of loops of me standing there and looking around.

I tried to make sure that the beginning and end of my “acting” was the exact same, so I could make a perfect loop.

Once done shooting I got on the beers with Pete Jobson who helped me shoot, and then the next day I opened up After Effects.

How to edit

First up I rendered the timelapse photo sequence so I had a master file to work with.

If you'd like to know how to do that you can download my free e-book The Basics Of Timelapse below.

I then created 1920 x 1920 pixel composition in After Effects. In that composition, I drag the video file of me looking around and adjust the scale where needed so it fits the composition.

Then you double-click the video sequence and click on the Roto Brush 2.0 tool button in the top menu bar.

This rotobrush 2.0 tool uses some fancy machine learning and allows you to brush over your subject. If you mess up you can hold alt and drag your mouse to “unbrush” parts of the selection, just like you would do in photoshop.

Advance to the next frame and adjust where necessary. I did this frame by frame and once you’re at the end of the sequence you click on the “freeze” button, which generates a mask of the selection you just made for the entire clip.

Once that’s done you can drag your timelapse master file into the composition, below the video layer and adjust the scale of the timelapse to make sure it’s lined up properly.

I then played around with selecting the best bits of the timelapse and made it loop by cutting up the timelapse and crossfading from one end of the shot into the next.

I also adjusted myself a bit and tried to make that loop which didn’t end up being perfect but nothing is perfect and I forgive myself, which is important.

What could I have done differently?

To make this easier I could have put a green screen behind me but I didn’t have one and didn’t want to buy one for just one shot as that feels a bit wasteful!

I’ve been doing timelapse for over a decade now, and I’ve created an online course that has 85 videos in it that contains literally everything I know about timelapse, hyperlapse, astrophotography, fun editing techniques, predicting great shooting conditions, planning complicated shots and then some.

If you subscribe to my newsletter The Time Warper Weekly you get an instant nice discount on the course and you also get access to monthly giveaways.

This year so far I’ve given away a GoPro Hero 10, a copy of LRTimelapse editing software, an LRTimelapse Pro Controller timelapse remote, and more!

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments