How To Shoot & Edit An Orbiting Hyperlapse

How To Shoot & Edit An Orbiting Hyperlapse

Last week I discussed with you the basic principles of making an extremely cool looking hyperlapse video. This time around, I have something that you can add to your hyperlapse repertoire and create this amazing effect.

Looks really good, isn’t it?

It’s called an orbiting hyperlapse.

I first saw it on Mango Street and was absolutely blown away by it. Such a simple way to make yet looks so good.

You can use orbiting hyperlapse in between your videos, between transitions, or even while making standalone versions for Instagram.

All we have to do is use the same principles that we discussed earlier but in a different way.

If you are not sure what they are, give this a quick read. Here you go: Hyperlapse Photography | How To Create An Amazing One For Yourself

Getting Started

The most basic version of this technique that we are going to discuss now uses a stationary subject and an interesting background (we use a wall here).

We would need two of those. Two subjects placed in front of two different backgrounds. Just to add some diversity and contrast.

The Orbit

Orbiting means to go around something in circles. Since we have two subjects to cover, we will use a semi-circle for each one.

Together they would make a complete circle, thereby our orbit would be complete.

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Place the subject in front of the background. Try and keep it as still as possible throughout the shoot.
  2. Now chart your course around the subject like we discussed earlier in the hyperlapse basics. Uniformity is of utmost importance. It makes the end result as smooth as possible.But that would also require us to do some math.
  3. First, decide the duration of the orbiting hyperlapse. Say 2 seconds. So, if each second of video requires 24 frames (or individual images). You will need 24 x 2 = 48 images in total. 24 photographs of each subject.
  4. Determine the radius of the circle that you want to go around the subject. Remember to give your subject some space in the frame. This gives a good feel to the end video. Don’t go in too tight.
  5. Now, use the formula to find the distance you need to travel between each shot.

    Distance between each shot = (Radius x 3.14 )/24.For example, let’s suppose radius: 120 inches.

    The total circumference of the semi-circle = 120 x 3.14 = 376.8 inches.

    Dividing it into 24 equal slots. 376.8/24 = 15.7 inches or 16 inches (approx). Therefore, you need to move exactly 16 inches between each shot.

  6. Now all you have to do is go around your subject in a semi-circle. You can use a piece of string to make sure that you absolutely follow the circular trajectory maintaining the 120 inches distance at all times. Ask your subject to hold one end of the string and then use it to guide you around the subject in a circle.
  7. All you have to do now is take a shot, move 16 inches in a circular trajectory, and take a shot again. Do this 24 times for each subject, and there you have all the 48 images you need to make the video.

*In case you are wondering 3.14 is the value of mathematical constant pi. 

Post Processing

To keep the final video as smooth and seamless as possible, edit the two sets of images separately.

Edit the images to your heart’s content. Just make sure the white balance, color tones, the contrast, exposure are all as uniform as possible.

After you are done, export all the image as full resolution Jpegs.

Now import all the images into Adobe Premiere. You can use any other video editing software, the directions are pretty much the same, even if the terms used may vary.

  1. Select all the images, next right click, and select speed duration. Choose a duration of 1 frame.
  2. Keeping all the images selected, select the new sequence icon.
  3. Now depending on how much uniformity you managed to preserve during shooting, your subject is either going to be stable through all the shots or is going to dance all around it.
  4. Use an adjustment layer + grid effect to position your subject in the same place for all the 24 frames. This is a bit time-consuming as you will have to go through all the 24 frames, one-by-one, manually.
  5. Repeat the above steps for the other subject now.
  6. Once you are done, switch off the grid panel.
  7. Group the images of each subject using the nest option.
  8. Apply Adobe’s warp stabilizer and bring down the smoothness to about 15%. You may need to adjust it but not very much.

There you have it. Your very own orbiting hyperlapse.

If you want to add it to your video sequence, make sure that the hyperlapse matches the frame rate and the resolution of your video footage.

For some added bells and whistles, you can adjust the scale of the nests (of each subject) and add some directional blur using an inverted and feathered mask for better presentation.

You can also add some sound effect while you are at it.

Orbiting hyperlapse…Done!

Let me know how you liked it. Feeling pumped already.

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