From the very first briefing I was hooked on this project, time lapse, black and white, 2.35 aspect ratio, architecture, and best of all, creative freedom.

At the very start of the project I sat down with director Paul Giggle and we discussed everything from the overall mood of the film, down to specifics like sound score, lighting, editing and shooting techniques. It was a conversation that gave me a great feel for how I needed to capture the architecture in time lapse. Of particular interest to Paul was some of my previous time lapse work he had seen with shadows that moved gracefully across the ground, and transitions from day into night with the added movement of motion controlled camera moves.

Before the shoot I took a day to go through all the buildings, at first I did a quick walk through to get a sense of the layout and locate the source of the sun at any particular time of the day. To help me I use an iPhone app called “Sun Seeker”, it’s great for plotting where the sun will be at any given time of the day. In conjunction with this I use a browser app called “SunCalc” on my laptop. Its shows the sunlight phases during the day at any given location overlaid on google maps. Fantastic for scheduling a shoot.

The job wasn’t without its challenges. We had agreed it would look best if I could shoot the buildings without any people moving through them.

Off course the biggest problem was, I had to shoot in busy hotel foyers and exterior entrances with literally hundreds of people coming and going, and I had little control over it, plus I was working alone. During the location recce I searched for angles that gave me the camera moves I was after, plus other dynamics like moving shadows and sun, whilst keeping the frame clear of people. There were a couple of instances where I had to heard people around roped off areas just to get the shot and avoid painstaking work in post production removing them.
There was one shot I wanted to do at the Versace which created a small problem. I wanted to do a time lapse shot tracking forward through some curtains and out onto a balcony.

With the slider its difficult to design shots looking straight down the rails because the camera is very low and its not possible to create a shot that has a very long move.

Before the shoot I tried a couple of different techniques to give me a longer move. In the end I built a 12cm extension bracket from a piece of building material. On top of that I mounted a Induro Ball head under a Merlin pan tilt head. This gave me about 30 cm of clearance from the dolly track to the lens, just enough to give me a 6ft move with a 35mm lens on a Canon 5D mark III.

On most shoots I would normally run two cameras, one camera on my Dynamic Perception motion controlled slider and one camera locked off on a tripod nearby. This was certainly the case for most of the shoot as I wanted to get as many shots as possible in the short amount of time I had. Each day was scheduled with the motion control camera taking the hero angles and the second camera was setup with a long lens or ultra wide lens at a nearby location. In post I would add a nodal camera move to the locked off shots to give it another dynamic. These shots were all carefully choreographed so that I could make the best use of the nodal camera move in post.

From the start I new that my time laps shots were going to be intercut with live action plates shot by Geoffrey Wharton ACS. . So I worked hard with all the shots to make sure everything was captured in camera and very little or in most cases no post production treatment was necessary.

I will finish up with the opening line from the film “I think everything can inspire you, the most simple object, the most simple interaction can be the cause of inspiration”.

Time Lapse Cinematographer
Jeff Gaunt