Speed ramping and “faking super slow mo”

Last week I had the Privilege to speak at the MCA-I meetup here in Milwaukee WI.
The topic was “fast and slow” speed ramping and time changes with video/photos.

We started the meetup with Todd Keller from Aquent Studios at Rockwell Automation giving us a breakdown on using several GoPro cameras to cover events at a conference.  He discussed concerns when it comes to memory and the math required to cover an 8 day event (number of exposures, time between exposures and power adapters)  

Time-lapse with GoPro cameras

Todd keller showcasing gopro timelapse
Todd keller showcasing GoPro timelapse

Todd mentioned that one of his biggest suggestions is to: Test, Test, Test. Different events and different circumstances will call for different settings for the outcomes you may want.

Another tip: Don’t rely on the batteries inside the GoPro at all when doing long shoots. From my personal experience, you will want external power, or even external battery packs when using the GoPros for long shoots.  One caveat with this is you will need the power port exposed or some other housing in case of inclement weather.  There are an assortment of different power banks available on the market, including ones designed for the GoPro specifically.
Todd also demoed a couple of the mounts he used for his projects including a clamp arm and a suction cup mount for his car.  One of my own personal favorites for mounts is the Joby Gorillapod.  I used it in the featured image of this article and some other time-lapses I put together.  I like the Gorillapod as it’s light and strong enough for my DSLR and GoPro alike.Joby Gorillapod

The only additional item you would need to go with your GoPro and the GorillaPod pictured to the right would be a Tripod mount for the GoPro which is another separate purchase.  it becomes necessary however if you ever want to use your GoPro on any tripod, Gorillapod or other such device.

That was the first half of the meetup. Just capturing the raw data .
But what do you do with all that data once its all captured and transferred to your editing station?  What do you do with the thousands of photos and whats the benefit of shooting at higher or lower frame rates?

Speed ramps- time warping, and pixel motion.

Stanislaw DemoIn the second half of the meetup, I got to talk about different workflows and considerations when using timelapse photography. One trick i mentioned is to bring in the photos at full resolution (lets say 8mp per still).  That will effectively give you footage about 4 times the spatial resolution of 1080p footage.  What you can do with a frame size so large is “pan and scan” around your frame to create the illusion of motorized time-lapse photography.

Phillip Bloom (all around great guy) has a comprehensive post about this on his own blog so I won’t go into great detail about timelapses here, but if you want more information about his workflow and moving around image sequences Here’s a link to his blog- http://philipbloom.net/2009/10/18/tutorial-on-how-to-turn-your-dslrs-stills-timelapse-into-video/

For me, I tend to use After Effects for my image sequences. If you have sequences that are in numerical order in After effects you can specify the frame rate for playback using the Interpret footage dialog.  If i choose to I can add some frame blending and motion blur to my footage to help smooth some of the jerky motion that can happen with most time-lapse.
As an example: Here I’ve imported a large image sequence into after effects, and applied motion blur and frame blending

In this example, I’m showcasing a variety of techniques including the Time Warp plugin in After effects (which as far as i can tell is just an After Effects port of The Foundry’s Kronos plugin)

Here I have several different kind of footage, some shot as time-lapse at 1 frame each second (The sunrise in Cancun) .5 -1 second for the runway scenes, 30fps video shot for the shakers and the smoking man altered with Timewarp and lastly a series of super slow mo created using only 3-5 still images and using pixel motion.  I talked about some of the limitations and some of the artifacting that can happen using pixel motion as well.

So what is Pixel Motion?

So in after effects and premiere we can achieve a bit of slow down using frame blending or motion blur.  What this does is duplicates frames and creates “in between frames ” using information we have from previous and future frames to effectively ‘smooth movement over’ much like in the studio timelpase above.  Pixel Motion however works a lot like MORPHING frames.  What Pixel motion does is create NEW inbetween pixels from extrapolated position data.

To turn on Pixel motion in After effects we need to change our frame blending settings by clicking on it two times. It should look like this-(in Ae CC 2014)Pixel motion

Notice under the frame blending we have a series of close three dots and arrow and a spaced out 3 dots.

There are limitations though.  If the movement is too new (pixels not seen in previous frames, fast movement) pixel motion will have a hard time guessing what pixels are supposed to be where.
However if the movement is subtle we can use just a few frames to create the illusion of super slow mo.
In an example I made a couple years ago you can see that most of the illusion hold ups fairly well and we only have artifacting in certain areas where the motion happens too fast.  Subtle movements work best.

In the speedramp/timewarp collection example you can see a luchadore mask with a heavy depth of field.  Due to the way that Pixel Motion works, it has a really hard time with shallow depth of fields as it doesn’t seem to know what to do with those pixels.  Ive covered them up using a fast blur and a mask to mitigate that result.

Here is a great tutorial that breaks down the process of how you can create super slow mo using photos I found in case you want to try it out yourself-

Now what about filming with a gopro and removing the Fisheye effect that happens?
Lens distortion presetsIn the new Version of Premiere Pro (Pr CC 2014) we actually have presets for a good chunk of the GoPro and DJI cameras.
They are found under the effects and presets- Lens distortion removal.
The way they are broken down is by camera and then by setting.
In addition to the Fisheye removal, Premiere and After Effects can now natively support the Cineform codec meaning you do NOT have to convert your footage anymore before importing it into these editing programs.

Typically in the past i would have to take video I recorded on my GoPro and place it in some other program to convert it into another format that Premiere would play nice with before I could start working with it.

Now I can just open up premiere and drop in my footage along with the lens distortion removal and get right to work, saving me a lot of time, and extra files.

Lastly, I talked about timewarping footage in after effects using the Timewarp plugin.
The time warp plugin uses pixel motion by default and allows for some pretty great effects.

Pixel Motion with JacksonWhen placing it on footage in After Effects we get a pretty robust menu of choices: The main one you want to concern yourself with it the Speed setting.  Sure there are a lot of controls that you can get into, and they can vastly improve the quality of your video, but that’s really best left for its OWN post and its get a bit long in the tooth when it comes to how it interprets pixels and motion data.

So I hope that gives you just a little insight into some of the different looks you can achieve with GoPros and different frame rates.  I’ve included a link to the after effects file and footage if you would like to try to deconstruct some of these for yourself.  You may have to relink some of the footage to get it to work properly.  So if you do choose to try it, I recommend downloading the project and ALL the footage to make sure you get it all.

This link contains some examples as well as some original footage and the after effects file.
NOTE: This After Effects file is for ADOBE CREATIVE CLOUD 2014 or ABOVE ONLY.  

If you have further questions or are interested in After Effects or Premiere Pro training, I am teaching often at the offices of C2gps.com and there you can see a list of my current class offerings.

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