Creating a Hyperlapse Loop


Hyperlapse (also walklapsespacelapsestop-motion time-lapsemotion timelapsemoving timelapse) is an exposure technique in time-lapse photography, in which the position of the camera is being changed between each exposure in order to create a tracking shot in timelapse sequences. In opposite to a simple motion timelapse – dolly shots, which are realized with short camera sliders; in hyperlapse photography, the camera is being moved through very long distances.

A hyperlapse is a fun project, and a cool way to highlight a building, landmark, or area is to do one around it. All you need is a map, a still camera, photo editing software and a video editing program that can assemble an image sequence.

First, find your location on the map. Then plot out points you can take photos from in a circle around the building. I used Google Maps, threw a screen grab into Photoshop and drew a circle around it. Then I printed that image and drew dots around the circle where I wanted to shoot pictures.

There are some handy tips and videos for how to best do this online. This video mentioned that it works best to take a picture then shift a short distance and take a second picture so the sequence shows the foreground moving. It helps the video feel smoother.

When taking the pictures, chose one portion of the building/object to line up with something in the camera viewfinder. I put the top of the steeple at the top of the guides inside the Canon 7D viewfinder, and in the center of the focus boxes. It’s Ok if it’s not exactly perfect. But it should be close. Make sure that you have plenty of space between your building and the edge of your frame, this will help with cropping the photos down to a 16×9 image later.

Once you have your pictures, load them into your photo editor. I used Adobe Photoshop, but other editors may be able to do similar edits. In Photoshop create a new document and paste in one of the images on a new layer. Straighten, if necessary. Position the building or object exactly in the center. Then draw some guides around the building. These will help you to center up each new image.

Paste more of your shots in new layers and (using the guides) straighten, scale and position them to match the base layer. As always, save early and often. When you are done you have a document with about 40 or so layers, all scaled and positioned with the building in the center. This is the base of your video.

Using the canvas size tool in Photoshop, change the horizontal and vertical dimensions to something that is a multiple of the resolution you want your final video to be. I chose 3840×2160, double 1080 HD resolution.

Go through each image and fix anything that looks out of place, and make sure the image is still centered in the guides. I had some blank spots from some of the image rotation I had done to straighten things out. So I used the Clone tool to draw in more ground or sky. Don’t worry about making it look perfect. These pictures will be zooming by at 1/24th of a second. But keep that building or object centered and straight.

Now, go through each picture and add motion blur to everything except the focal point. The amount you add is up to you. I wanted to make sure viewers could tell what the foreground images were, but didn’t want them sharp at all.

The final image editing step is to export each layer of the image in order with a numerical file name. Then open your video editor. I used Adobe Aftereffects, which recognized I had an image sequence and created the video automatically. Make any adjustments and export your hyperlapse loop.

I’d love to see your hyperlapse.