Christmas Timelapse Is Here Again

Christmastime.

So much decorating and moving boxes around. Don’t you wish it could go faster? I know I do. I have a time machine, but it only works after the fact. That is, I travel through at regular speed, then I have a windows where I can view the events at any speed I want, forward or backward, random or not, but I can no longer interact with them.

Boy, except for that first part of the real-time experience, it works great.

I shot the initial portion as video in case there was some interaction I could pull out by slowing the video for it, but then I couldn’t find what I thought I had shot when I go to editing.

This is where planning to edit encourages a careful process. I was so perplexed by this I went back to the camera card to figure out the time I caught a picture on my Canon camera and see what the GoPro was doing, because my project folder didn’t have anything for that time. It was perfectly possible I had accidentally left the camera off, but I could check because of my workflow. So there’s another good reason to edit besides polishing your material.

TIP: Don’t format your memory cards until you have to, even in the middle of a minor project or ahead of a large one (like when you clear a bunch of cards the might before so you can swap at will.) Even then, do a quick review to ensure you have actually copied important files or folders to one or two places. This makes the SD Cards in your camera bag a temporary backup. It’s not a perfect method, but it’s a lottery ticket against disaster. Maybe a sandbag against being broke? Whichever.

Anyway, when I copied the GoPro files initially I ran out of space at the original location and switched to another drive, but there were two GoPro folders on the camera and I forgot to get the larger video files out of both, leaving two behind! Once discovered, a long file copy later, I got back to the half-drawn board and a little more editing. Funny enough, I had a feeling it wasn’t quite right so I hadn’t published the video yet!

Back to our story: I framed my opening video shot from a birds-eye angle to set the scene of large scale chaos and the bleakness of the soldier fighting holiday light sets….

After the initial scene, I used a different angle to bring the viewer into the experience and provide a little more detail. In concept I thought about a much closer shot on the tree, but realized that any one spot would get one ornament, which would require bouncing around the tree, and not getting a cool montage. So I didn’t zoom in quite so dramatically during editing after all.

I switched to photo timelapse on the second angle (7 megapixels every 10 seconds — could do 12 mp but seemed overkill.) That gave me the ability to crop to at least quarter of the screen before getting below the 1920×1080 full HD pixel resolution (and you can push on that) but again, I didn’t feel the need to go in that tight. As I write this, I realize I could have shot at 4K/15 frames a second, for a little smoother motion since I actually slowed down these segments to 33% instead of speeding them up, but I was planning for more pixels at the time.

Besides, zooms in and out in a clip are tricky to do in GoPro Studio. You can have four keyframes per clip but you can’t slide them around after creation that I saw, and lacking a zoom feature on the edit timeline that shows you where the keyframes are, placement of these keyframes is not optimal. You can fine-tune the placement but you then want to watch it and tweak it, and you can’t fine-tune what you want to tweak by moving it. You have to delete and recreate it in the new place. Ugh.

Even so, I think it turned out fine. And special thanks to Beatle and solo performer Ringo Starr who is always with us at the start of the holidays whether he knows it or not. Get his album “I Want To Be Santa Claus”* if you can find it. Charming fun.

—-David.

* Apparently, it’ s been remastered as the Ringo Starr Christmas Collection. BUY IT!

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P.S. Does anyone like the stupid GoPro file naming convention when it has to break longer files? It doesn’t sort correctly and I am only finally feeling it when I am on the timeline trying to make sure my split files from a long recording session are in the proper order. Here’s an example from a different shoot: If you keep takes short it’s GOPR0001.mp4 GOPR0002. Great, but the letter O and number 0 look really similar in computer fonts. If it runs longer then  you get GOPR1798 GP011798 GP021798 GP031798, which can be in order unless there are MORE long takes after, in my case I was looking at GOPR1797 GOPR1798 GOPR2887 GOPR3052 GP011797 GP011798 GP021798 GP031798. So there were a couple together then it ran off the rails. Oh well.

P.S.S. The music here is from Garageband iOS Loops with some custom piano ones created for the Christmas mood. It was meant for shorter segments originally so the long form sometimes repeats itself, but all holiday music gets a little repetitive in the end, so the mood is set!

P.S.S.S. Save your projects as you go as PROJECT FILES. I know , it’s a short thing and you won’t need it. But having done so,  I was able to add to my set instead of recreating it. At other times it’s rescued me : prep time from a crash, necessary reboot, stupid mistake in a title, viewer’s suggestion for edit, and for you, maybe a copyright infringement where you have to change out the music so YouTube will post it with a soundtrack (fingers crossed, Ringo).  Why recreate the wheel when you can save what you did in the editing software you so carefully arranged it?

Christmas Timelapse Is Here Again was originally published on Creative Uploads

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