House of Cards Timelapse project

House of Cards Title Sequence

I’ve started another movie project. It’s not finished yet, so I wanted to tell you a bit about it but also give you a few tips if you’re interested in doing more mobile movie making yourself.

This project is time consuming – quite literally time consuming.

I love time lapse photography. With analogue photography it was a very time consuming effort and I didn’t do that much. However, with the time lapse apps now available for laptops and phones I’ve been time lapsing all over the place!

I got the bug again in 2010, using time lapse as a way of capturing some of the real world, treasure hunt games I was creating. A game that took a few hours to play could be captured in a few minutes of film and I didn’t always need to be there.

Time lapse is also great if you are documenting events where very little happens. Conferences for example can be very dull to watch – but if all you want to illustrate is the room filling up ahead of the event then time lapse is perfect.

Combine these film making tools with social media (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest) and your phone becomes the perfect documentation device.

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Time lapse on TV
Just over a year ago I noticed a (kind of) trend in the use of time lapse on TV. Breaking Bad often used little time lapse sequences to illustrate the passing of time and the recent Netflix adaptation of House of Cards uses time lapse exclusively in its opening sequence.

The House of Cards title sequence is a series of 2-3 second shots of Washington DC. That was when the idea struck me. In my head, so many of those shots could be replicated in my local city of Dundee. I should recreate a Dundee version of the sequence!

The idea went on the back burner for a while, but with the new series of House of Cards now out on Netflix, and with a bunch of time lapse shot already in the bag from other projects, I’ve decided to give it a go.

Shots of Dundee’s McManus that may well find their way into this new film

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HoC around the world
I didn’t expect to be the first person to think of this and if you go on Youtube you’ll find a few versions – London, and Paris being two. However, most of them use much longer shots (therefore half as many shots required) than in the original and it struck me that I couldn’t find any that were shot-for-shot. So this is the brief I have set myself.

The original sequence is 38 shots. I can’t have every shot set up exactly the same but I am putting thought into what the Dundee equivalent building or location might be. I’m also following the ‘dawn ’til dusk’ pattern of the original.

Bagged another couple of shots for my #HouseOfCards shot-for-shot #Dundee #timelapse – #HoC_DNDs4s

A post shared by Jon Gill (@onthesuperfly) on

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Tools
All of the tools I’m using for this project have been reviewed on this blog in the past – so what follows is something of a retrospective of those posts.

Camera – iPhone
Mostly, if not exclusively, I’ll be capturing footage on my iPhone. I’m now on a the iPhone 6 and I have no complaints about the camera at all.

Software – iMotion
For the HoC project I’m using iMotion (formerly iMotionHD). There are other similar apps (as you’ll see next) but for me, iMotion remains the cleanest, most intuitive and effective application for time lapse photography as well as stop frame animation. I have in on my iPhone and on my iPad and use it in lots of different ways as you’ll see in all of the related posts.

Read more: Take Your Time

Software – MagicLapse
I’ve been using iMotion for almost four years, but a new app for me is MagicLapse. I’ve only tested this once so far (see below) but i’m hopeful for what it promises to deliver. Magic Lapse combines time lapse photography with long exposures. Every shot is captured over half a second or so and, as you can imagine, capturing light trails from vehicles as it gets darker could be pretty spectacular.

The test I carried out was in a moving vehicle while it was raining. While I liked the ‘fireworks’ effect I’ll be using this for static shots (hopefully in the dry) to capture the movement of the traffic. I’ll let you know how it works out.

Device – X-Lapse by Muvi
X-Lapse is a little clockwork device that moves a camera or phone one degree every second to help you capture smooth panoramic time-lapse images.

The official House of Cards sequence includes various camera moves which I won’t be able to replicate – they would have used computer motion-controlled camera dollies and cranes). X-lapse will at least help me to achieve some nice pan-shots.

Read more: X-Lapse

Device – GorillaPod by Joby

Finally, for the still shots I will be relying on my trusted Joby GorillaPod with the Joby Grip Tight attachment. Again, a tool that I’ve been using for a few years now and remains very reliable – especially as the equipment that is entrusted to it is not cheap. The feet are magnetic (up to albs in weight) and the GripTight is exactly that.

Again, read more for more examples of the products at work: GorillaPod

House of Cards Project
So, I’m going to drip feed shots (as above) every now and then – you’ll find a few on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #HoC_DNDs4s (which stands for House of Cards, Dundee, Shot for Shot).

Hope you enjoy following the process and the final film should be with you very soon.

Read more about the creation of the House of Cards time lapse sequence by ‘District 7’.

Take Your Time

My last post illustrated how you can use an iPhone or iPad to make simple animations.

iMotionHD is the App that I’ve used for these kinds of projects and workshops. It’s amazingly intuitive, powerful frame editing and great options for sharing your completed movie.

This morning my little boy needed to make a card for his young cousin – to make the exercise a little more interesting for them both I used the ‘time-lapse’ feature in iMotionHD to capture the process of making the card.

The iMotionHD time-lapse option takes a picture a regular intervals (e.g. 1 frame every sec, 1 frame every 3 seconds, etc) and then plays them back as a continuous movie. This can make a long or less interesting process instantly accessible. So my niece will get to witness 90mins of (not too interesting) craft in a very manageable 43 seconds – and my son enjoyed watching the movie too.

Of course, this is not just for kids. This is the same idea regularly used in nature programmes to show the passing of time/seasons, etc. But if your work consists of laborious processes then this might be a way of sharing that experience with your customers or audience.

So, here it is, have a watch. Let me know what you think. Better still, give it a go yourself and let me know how you get on!

Post-it Motion

Designers using Post-its is nothing new. It’s actually a bit of a cliché. Some would say passé. Presumable those people would be French. Or a tad pretentious.

However, I digress.

I have, in fact, this past week, been having ‘fun’ with Post-its.
This is what it’s all about…

What do you think – Extreme Cubism or simply a waste of pre-gummed coloured paper? Have your say below!

P.S. On a technical note the results above were achieved with an iPhone 4S and an iPad2, both using iMotionHD (stop-frame App) and iMovie (for iOS) to edit and export to YouTube. The iPhone was assisted in standing up through the use of a Joby Gorilla tripod.

Creative Speed Dating

I attended Fife Creativity Xchange 2012 (#CXFife12) last week where I presented my Balmullo History QR Code Safari. Held at packed Rothes Halls, Glenrothes, it was a well attended event where 10 groups presented creative educational projects in a ‘speed dating’ format. I’m fine with creativity, but ‘speed dating‘? This was a new experience!

Each project was sat at a table and, on arrival, the attendees were appointed one of the 10 tables to start at. After the opening key note (Fife Director of Education – very good!) each project had 10 mins to present (a countdown clock was projected onto the main screen), at the end of which an alarm would sound, attendees moved on to the next table and the process started again.

The cons: As a presenter, 1) I didn’t get to hear about the other projects and 2) I had to listen to myself 10 times! Nothing could be done about 1) but 2) turned into a little challenge in it’s own right and I quite enjoyed it – reiterating the presentation on the fly was really good practice – and by the time I’d got to 8) it was really flying!

The Pros: (Besides the Pros which came out of the Cons…) Having talked to a room of 60 – 100 and beyond I’ve never had so much immediate feedback from one session. I’d present for about 6-7 mins and then 2 or 3 mins would easily be filled with a combination of questions and feedback.

Standing on a stage doesn’t suit everyone or put them at their best. Likewise, not everyone is up for approaching a speaker so this process solved both of those problems.

It’s not for every event (Would TED have been as successful in this format?) but I think the ‘speed dating’ approach is a good alternative to bear in mind.

Anyone had similar experiences..?

Thanks to all who contributed to the organisation of #CXFife12 and turned up, contributed and made it a genuinely worthwhile afternoon! For more on the QR Safari go here.