Hyperlapse Farm Clouds

How to Make a Hyperlapse with a Drone

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What is a Hyperlapse?

A hyperlapse is similar to a timelapse, but the camera is moving, rather than being in one set position. These can be used to speed up the motion of something that moves very slowly, such as clouds or fog, or to show the changing colors of a sunset. This creates a new perspective, and an even more interesting visual than a regular timelapse, and even more interesting when done with a drone.

Hyperlapses can be made in one of two ways:

  1. Video: You can shoot one really long video and speed it up in post-production. This can be quick and easy, but also can have huge file sizes and not as crisp of a picture.
  2. Photos: Put a bunch of individual photos together quickly into a sequence to make a video, similar to stop-motion

You can decide what technique you prefer to use, but I recommend taking individual photos.  When shooting a video, you usually shoot 24 frames per second. To make a hyperlapse, in post-production, you will speed up the frame rate, and in doing so, you lose a lot of those frames. So you have an unnecessarily large file size, and end up not using all of the frames that you shot. Shooting a video may be a bit quicker in terms of post-production time, but the large file size might slow you down. If you choose to take photos instead, you will be able to essentially edit each frame of the video individually, and get a much better quality final result.

Shooting

When shooting a hyperlapse, there are a few things to keep in mind. First of all, plan out the flight path in advance. Scout the location before you begin shooting, and choose the path that you are going to fly. When picking a subject, choose something that is moving, but moving very slowly. Clouds work really well because they move slowly and organically. Cars/people will look very jumpy and choppy, so if you would like to include them, treat them as groups rather than individuals. Don’t try to capture one car moving, but rather try to capture the overall flow of traffic over time. The most interesting shots have more than one element moving at different speeds, such as waves on a beach moving quickly while the clouds above move slowly.

When you are ready to begin shooting, select the camera mode called “Timed Shot.” This will set up your drone to take photos automatically at an interval that you choose, anywhere from 2 seconds to 60 seconds. The closer the photos are together, the smoother the final result will be. I usually always shoot in RAW, but the current DJI software only allows you to shoot RAW photos on a 10 second interval, so if you would like to shoot at a faster interval, you can only use JPEG. For example, the first video below was shot at a 5 second interval, and the second one was shot at a 2 second interval. The longer the time between photos, the quicker it appears to be moving.

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Make sure that you are shooting completely in manual. If the white balance, exposure, or anything is set to auto, this might change from photo to photo, and this will cause the final result to be inconsistent.

Intelligent Flight Modes

Always shoot hyperlapses using an intelligent flight mode. It is much too difficult for a pilot to keep a drone flying steady for long periods of time, no matter how good the pilot. For a hyperlapse, the two best flight modes to choose from are:

1. Tap fly – In this mode, all you have to do is tap on the screen, and the drone will fly in a straight line to whatever you. This creates a really steady motion, and you still have control over the speed and direction of the drone.

2. Point of Interest – This mode will circle around whatever you chose to be the subject of your hyperlapse. Select Point of Interest in the intelligent flight modes panel. Fly directly over the subject, and select “set POI.” Then you can choose the diameter of the circle around the subject. For a more detailed step-by-step tutorial on how to use POI mode, click here. .

Editing

Once you’ve shot your photos (it will probably be a pretty large number), import them all into Lightroom. Edit the first photo to your liking (for a detailed video on how to edit your photos in Lightroom, click here). Use Command + C to copy the settings then scroll to somewhere around the halfway point of your photos and use Command + V to paste the settings. Compare this middle photo with the first one, and assess if the same settings still look how you want them to. If not, go back and edit that first photo differently. Repeat the same process with a photo toward the end of the camera roll. Once you have agreed upon settings for a photo at the beginning, middle, and end of your camera roll, sync all of your photos to the same settings. This will help to make sure the final result looks cohesive and smooth, and not choppy.

Once your photos are all set and the settings are all synchronized, it’s time to make them into a video. Open up a new project in Premiere Pro, and click File, Import. Select the first photo in your group, and make sure you select “Import as Sequence.” This will make sure that your photos import as one file, not as hundreds (yikes!).

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Once you import the video, drag it to create a sequence. Now you can decide if it needs to be sped up or slowed down. If you need to change the speed, right click and select “Speed/Duration,” and change the percentage.

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Stabilizing

This step is not absolutely necessary, but can take your hyperlapse to the next level. While the built-in stabilizers in most drones do a really good job of keeping the camera steady, we are, after all, taking these videos on a drone flying hundreds of feet in the air, so there’s probably still going to be some motion.

To stabilize your video, all you have to do is open up that video in Premiere Pro, and click on the effects panel. Search for “Warp Stabilizer,” and drag that effect to the video clip. This will take some time to analyze the clip, depending on how long your hyperlapse is. There are several different options you can choose once it is analyzed, but for our purposes, we will keep it simple and leave most everything as the default. If anything, play around with the “Smoothness” slider. Depending on how shaky your video was, you might need more or less stabilization. Be careful not to use too much, because this can warp your video.

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And finally, the last step is to export your video. Click File, “export,” then “Media,” or Command + M. A big dialog box pops up, with tons of different options for how to save your video. If you are going to be putting it on YouTube, or sharing it on the internet, select the YouTube 1080p HD preset, which saves the video as an MP4 file and keeps the high quality picture.

Sit & Stare

And that’s it! Now go shoot your own hyperlapse and share it with us!  I hope these tips helped. Share this post if you found it helpful, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for the latest drone tips, tricks, and tutorials.  And of course, please feel free to follow us on our social media channels or join our mailing list for regular updates.

 

About the Author

Katie Caswell