Time-lapse photography is a popular technique where the passage of time is compressed by capturing images over an extended period of time and playing them back at a faster rate to achieve a fast-forward effect. Slow-moving objects like clouds and growing plants can all be sped up and played back in a matter of seconds (which is pretty sweet).

While we all have seen pretty spectacular time-lapses of ominous clouds and budding flowers in David Attenborough films, they can get a little repetitive. So let's show you how to capture and create a time-lapse that no one has ever seen before - right from your face with a pair of Pivotheads - on one of the busiest shopping streets the world - Nanjing East Road located in Shanghai, China.



Creating a time-lapse video can be broken down into four simple steps:

  • 1. Preparation
  • 2. Capturing
  • 3. Editing
  • 4. Creating the time-lapse



Step 1. Preparation

Normally 1 second of video contains 24-30 frames of images. This is referred to as FPS (frames per second). With time-lapse we are going to take images that are shot seconds, minutes or even days apart and play them back at 24 frames a second. This is what gives the effect of time passing at a faster rate.


Set up your Pivotheads

There are a few factors that you need to consider before capturing a time-lapse with your Pivotheads. First is how often are you going to capture an image. Pivotheads offer 6 options: 1 shot/sec, 1 shot/30 secs, 4 shots/8 secs, 4 shots/30 secs, 10 shots/30 seconds, and 5 shots/minute.

For the time-lapse that we created we chose 1 shot/second, insuring that moving objects don't jump around too much and movement makes sense to the viewer in the final video. This means that for every 1-second of video that plays (24 fps) will contain 24 seconds of real time. To think of it another way every 2.5 seconds we watch our video will be 1 minute of walking down the street.

To change time-lapse settings on your Pivotheads you will have to open up our free desktop software then connect and turn on your eyewear. You can also use our Air Pivothead and mobile app to adjust your Pivothead settings on your mobile device.



Once opened you will see the above screen (desktop version). By default Pivotheads are set to capture single still images. On right you will need to turn on the Time Lapse Burst feature (highlighted by the red rectangle), select your desired interval and finally select apply at the bottom of the screen. Once applied you are ready to head out and start capturing your POV time-lapse. 



Step 2. Capture the Content



The Route

We chose a high traffic street because it was a situation where we had never seen anyone create a time-lapse before from their point-of-view. It's one of those places where it would look awkward to mount a boxy camera on your head and lends itself perfectly to using a pair of Pivotheads.

Starting in a tunnel under a the road near the #5 exit from metro line one we walked East on Nanjing Road until we arrived at the bank of the Huangpu river over looking Pudong and the Shanghai Tower which when finished the second tallest building in the world.


The Start 

One thing to note is that while using 1 shot every second time-lapse setting the eyewear will not change exposure in-between each image capture. We used this to our advantage and created a fade in effect. As you can see from the image on the left we started the time-lapse capture while looking down the street in the direction we planned to walk.

After looking at (framing) our scene we pressed the rear of the PivotSwitch to start the time-lapse capture and headed back down into the tunnel and started our journey by walking back out of the tunnel and on down the road. This created a visually interesting dark to light fade in and reference point for the beginning of the finished time-lapse.

Since we started our time-lapse by looking down the road at distant objects our focus was set to infinity. In your own time-lapse you may chose to look at something closer or even set the Pivotheads to macro focus for a super close up time-lapse.

Our time-lapse took us 1.8km (1.2 miles). It took 26.5 minutes to walk and contains 1585 images. Next we will edit these images to create a finished time-lapse video.



Step 3. Edit the captured images

After completing our capture we were left with just over 1500 images. Usually it would take a very long time to adjust color and make any other enhancements that a normal video producer might want to make to them. Luckily Photoshop can help us here. This step is optional. If your images are just the way you like them you can now start compiling them into the final video.



You can open a image that you captured into Photoshop and create a new Photoshop action (click here more help).

We created an action to lighten the shadows slightly and cut down the highlights a bit. From there we saved our new Photoshop action and went on to the next step.


Batch Processing

Once you have saved an action you can use Photoshop's batch process function to apply it to all of your images. In our case we applied our saved action to all 1585 images and it was finished in a matter of minutes. Once your editing is complete it's time to compile all the images into a video.



 Now it's time to move on to compiling all those images together into one time-lapse video.



Step 4. Create & Compile the time-lapse video



To compile our time-lapse images into a video we used Timelapse Assembler for Mac. There are a number of ways to achieve this and you can use any software that you feel comfortable with. We chose Timelapse Assembler because it's simple and easy to use. Apple QuickTime Pro will also work on Mac and on PC.

Once it's finished compiling the time-lapse with your newly applied settings you should have a ready to go video made from your true point-of-view. We added a little music to ours to jazz it up a bit.  


Check out the goods - we will call it.. Shanghai Dublapse.



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