Matthew Vandeputte is a timelapse and hyperlapse photography and filmmaking Belgian based in Sydney who travels around the world creating content for brands. Welcome to the Matjoez blog. Here you'll find timelapse tutorials, travel writeups, gear reviews, video blogs and more.
In this article I describe my timelapse data management system as well as my timelapse workflow from beginning to end.
If you haven’t seen the video I made with QNAP and Seagate yet then make sure to check it out first here:
Timelapse data management and timelapse workflow with QNAP and Seagate - YouTube
A few weeks ago I got contacted by QNAP and Seagate, who ended up sending me a NAS system as well as a bunch of 10TB hard drives. Sweet! In exchange for that gear I’m writing this blog and showing you how I use their tools.
To start off I might have to explain how I work on the road and how I work when I’m in my office. A lot of my timelapse projects are on the road. More often than not you’ll find me jumping planes to other states or countries to capture content for destinations or local tourism boards.
When I’m travelling I have two or three hard drives with me, the main one is a 2TB solid state drive, it’s the drive I keep all my projects and files on. This one gets backed up on a normal hard drive. In some cases this gets backed up a third time.
All my project files and folder structures have the same lay out, these get generated by a little free app called Post Haste. All I have to do is open the app, type in the project name and it generates a folder structure for me on my desired drive. In most cases this is on the solid state drive. Post Haste also creates the project files for Premiere/FCPX and even includes assets such as titles or music in there.
Once I’m on the road and shooting I offload and edit my timelapse/video/drone footage on the SSD.
When I get home this drive gets plugged into my desktop computer and I keep editing on it until the project is delivered to the client.
It is important to note that throughout this process I have all the data backed up on a second/third hard drive. These drives are never in the same room and never travel in the same bag. The main working drive goes in my carry on, the back up drive is in the check in luggage. It is vital that you always minimise the risk of the two drives getting damaged or stolen at the same time.
Check out the hard drives and QNAP system below. Clicking on the images will take you to an affiliate page. If you purchase through these links I make a percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.
Once the entire project is finalised and the master files are delivered to the client I copy the main project folder (which includes all the raw files, project files and render files) onto the NAS system. I often revisit finished projects to source footage for a new edit or to re-export certain files that might get licensed by for example an ad agency or a production company. Content licensing is one of my income streams, so it is vital that this process goes as smoothly and as efficiently as possible. With my new QNAP NAS system I will have access to finished projects from all over the world. Previously I’d have to tell potential clients to wait until I return from my trips to get access to the footage they are after. Because I have secure access to my NAS I can open up project files and RAW files and send them newly exported footage in the frame rate and resolution they desire.
I’m not just limited to what is on the NAS. I can plug in an older drive to access it remotely too (this ofcourse needs a person in my office to source the drive and plug it in correctly). Luckily I have an efficient way of keeping track of which projects are on which drives.
Let’s talk about this folder structure. Every project has a main folder name YYYY-MM-DD-ProjectName
Inside that folder you will find three new folders: YYYY-MM-DD-ProjectName-PROJECTFILES YYYY-MM-DD-ProjectName-RAW and YYYY-MM-DD-ProjectName-RENDERS
It is pretty self explanatory but just to make sure there’s no confusion here’s what you’ll find in every folder:
PROJECTFILES contains the working project files such as Lightroom catalogs, Premiere Pro projects, After Effects or Final Cut Pro project files.
RAW contains a number of folders with photos, videos, audio files, extra assets (sounds, music etc). These are all organised via the Lightroom Catalog in the Project Files folder. I always recommend to only use LR to move and rename this structure. Moving things around in your Explorer or Finder window might create errors down the track when opening your project files.
RENDERS contains the exported timelapse video files as well as any master exports that you would send to the client.
The beauty of Post Haste is that it generates project files including data. You can build a template (or download mine here) to suit your needs.
Because I’ve been using the same folder structure for years and years it is really simple for me to find specific footage, be it exported files or RAW files.
I have a big spreadsheet which contains the date and name of the project as well as which hard drive it is on.
Every hard drive I own is physically labeled with it’s number (that you’ll find in the name, for example ‘Matjoez 48’ has a sticker with 48 on it).
If a client requests footage from a certain trip/project/date all I have to do is find the project it was part of, look up which drive it’s on and plug it into my computer to re-export whichever file they are after.
As for timelapse workflows, this is how I work:
Shoot photos/videos and offload them onto a hard drive.
Import the contents of this hard drive into Lightroom using the Add method. This keeps all files in place without copying anything.
Organise your folder structure, separate video files from photos etc using Lightroom (you could use Bridge as an alternative).
Edit and colour grade your timelapse sequences in Lightroom, save the metadata for your RAW files.
Open up your After Effects project and import the RAW sequences one by one.
Create compositions with the RAW sequences and add any effects or corrections you want.
Send the sequences to the render queue and finalise your export settings.
AE will read the metadata that you’ve generated and saved in Lightroom and apply these on export.
Let your computer render these sequences overnight (generating video files from RAW sequences is a very processor intensive and slow process, might as well do it while you sleep).
Wake up and check your render queue that hopefully contains no errors.
Import your new video files into your favourite editing software and start your edit!
Check out my Patreon page if you’d like to support my work and future videos.
Thanks for reading!
I’d appreciate it if you could leave a comment here.
A few months ago I got a message on Instagram from @stefankunz. He told me we had a few friends in common and reached out to have a chat over a coffee. I checked out his work and was blown away. I saw gorgeous lettering art – something I’ve always loved and admired – in hundreds of photos and videos. Not just sticking to one medium, Stefan had come up with creative ways to escape paper and I saw him draw on toilet seats, bottles, footballs and even laptops!
Safe to say, I was interested in chatting to this guy and finding out what he was all about! (turns out he’s all about lettering, who would have guessed) One coffee and a chat led to another coffee and a chat which eventually led to setting up a collaboration. Stefan showed me a video on instagram of someone drawing something shot on a motion control rig. I told him I have a little bit of gear at my house that we could use to shoot something better than what we showed me so we set out to do just that!
Moving timelapse drawing on a MacBook with Stefan Kunz - YouTube
About collaborating with artists
One of the best and most fun ways to grow your profiles on social media is through collaborating or working with a fellow creative that has a following. Aside of the three main pillars of social media (consistency, quality and engagement) collaborations are key for growth. I get asked a fair amount to collaborate on some form of project, however more often than not there is nothing in it for me. With only so many hours in a week and so many things to do as a freelance creator, collaborations should always strive to be beneficial for both parties. In this collab the win for me is I get to shoot something interesting and tap into part of Stefan’s audience. The win for Stefan here is he gets really cool, high quality footage of him at work. I get a vlog/blog out of it, he gets content out of it for his social channels. On top of that, it’s great to spend time and work with someone who inspires you and who is on the same ‘frequency’.
What is this collaboration you keep speaking of?
Stefan and I brainstormed a few ideas on how we could work on a project together. As I’m a timelapse photographer and he’s a lettering artist it seemed to make a lot of sense that I would timelapse some of his lettering art. Now this has been done before, by Stefan and by others, however most of these shots are static timelapses or even just sped up video. It felt like that was too simple so we looked at the gear available and decided on a triple axis motion control repeatable timelapse shot. Fancy name, all it means is the camera moves during the shoot. The reason you go to this level of effort to capture a drawing is because the end result feels so different from a static timelapse shot. The multiple axises on which the camera moves add a level of production quality that you rarely see. Here’s an image of part of the gear that we used. If you want a full list of all the motion control stuff I used click this B&H Photo affiliate link here: https://bhpho.to/2rDZj3Z
What are the challenges and solutions for a shoot like this?
Aside of finding the most interesting looking angle and motion track of the camera, the main challenge is timing. I’ve done work with a lot of muralists, spray paint/graffiti artists and I can’t remember a single shoot where they finished close to the time frame they set out to paint in. On a shoot where you can’t just leave the camera running for another hour this is quite risky. The reason you can’t extend the time of the shoot is because you have to dial in the shoot and motion settings in the motion control device BEFORE the shoot starts. The camera will run along the track for (in this instance) one hour, when the hour is done, the camera stops shooting (you can extend that with no problem) however your move has finished, so the camera hits the end of the track but when the artist isn’t done painting yet it just doesn’t look good. So, it pays off to work with someone who knows what they’re doing. Luckily Stefan had done the laptop quote another day and was almost spot on with his timing!
In this tutorial I am finally teaching you the easiest way to shoot a hyperlapse! You don’t need lots of money or fancy equipment, you don’t need an expensive camera or lens, this technique works for any camera, even your mobile phone! I call this the beginner hyperlapse tutorial as it truly is the easiest way to shoot a hyperlapse. Don’t miss the downloadable PDF at the bottom of this page!
If you haven’t seen the video tutorial on how to shoot a handheld hyperlapse yet then make sure to check it out first here:
Beginner hyperlapse tutorial - The EASY way - YouTube
What you need to shoot a hyperlapse the easy way:
A camera (DSLR, mirrorless, even a phone will do)
A lens (don’t go wider than 24mm on a full frame)
A set of arms (very useful for holding up your camera)
A set of legs (great to move around!)
A subject to shoot (try and find something interesting)
A track to follow (look for tiles to follow, these can also be helpful to space your steps consistently)
Here’s the camera and lens I used to shoot the Sydney Opera House hyperlapse in the tutorial:
How to shoot the beginner hyperlapse:
Find a spot on your subject that will always be in frame
Turn on grid view in your view finder or in live view and align this spot with one of the cross sections or AF (autofocus) points
Find a track to follow, this can be go sideways, diagonally or straight ahead (or backwards even)(literally any direction, get creative, do loops, have fun)
Do a test run of the track, shooting a photo every few meters. This ensures your subject spot will always be in frame and you get a preview of your motion
Create a new folder in your camera or cover the lens and take a photo (repeat this at the end of the sequence)(this is useful in post production to signal the start and end of the shot)
Go to the start of your track, take a few extra steps and start shooting. Try and get comfortable. You want to end up ‘in the zone’ (in a figurative sense)
It is crucial that your step size and photo clicking frequency remains as consistent as possible
When you near the end of the track shoot some more photos so you have a buffer at the start and the end
Wipe the sweat off your camera, let your shoulders rest (you’re gonna get a mean set of shoulders from this trust me) and scroll through your photos to get a look at what you just accomplished
People WILL get in your way. Try and be loud but friendly when shouting ‘EXCUSE ME COMING THROUGH’ and thank them when they move. When they don’t move you will become very upset so yeah, don’t let that happen, be loud!
How to edit the easiest hyperlapse technique:
Offload your footage to a hard drive
Import the contents of that hard drive in Adobe Lightroom using the ‘Add’ method (this keeps the photos on the hard drive instead of copying them)
Make sure all the photos that make up the hyperlapse exist in one single folder
Import that folder into Adobe After Effects. If all goes well AE will automatically create a virtual video file by looking at every photo in the sequence as a video frame
With this collection of video frames you’re gonna create a composition
In the Tracker window activate the Warp Stabiliser VFX or drag the effect on the sequence from the Effects window
Set smoothness to 10% and let it analyse. If you shot it horribly because you’re new at it you might want to increase this percentage
Create a new composition from the one you just stabilised and repeat the Warp Stabiliser process. Do this as many times as necessary
Export the composition as a video file, create an edit and upload it online hoping to get lots of likes
If you tag me in your post or use the hashtag #matjoezhyperlapse I might see the fruits of your labour!
Obviously this is the easiest way to shoot a hyperlapse. You can get more complex shots by using tripods, wheels, dollies, stabilisers etc. If there’s enough demand for any of that I might expand on those. If you want to learn how to shoot a hyperlapse on a gimbalcheck out this blog post or watch the gimbal hyperlapse tutorial video here.
If you want to learn more about timelapse, why not check out some previous blog posts?
In this blog post and video I talk about using the new Canon EOS M50 mirrorless camera as a timelapse camera. Will it get a spot in my timelapse bag? Let’s find out.
Make sure to watch the video because I spent a fair amount of time and energy on the edit and I think you’d like it.
Canon EOS M50 mirrorless camera review by a timelapse photographer - YouTube
Main camera specifications:
24.1 megapixel APS-C sized CMOS sensor
Near 100% electronic viewfinder
Vari-angle touch screen
What I like about the EOS M50:
The size and weight. The body only weighs 387g grams and fits in any jacket pocket.
Use any Canon lens using the EF-M adapter. Canon has an enormous lens range and they all fit on this body with this accessory.
Connectivity and ease of use. The wifi/NFC/bluetooth functions have become incredibly easy to use and make remote shooting and file transferring a breeze. I used the remote shoot mode on my phone (Galaxy S9+) to shoot the below flatlay.
Timelapse shooting scenarios. There’s three specific timelapse scenarios built in (fast, slow, slower subject movement) which automatically dials in the right settings for your timelapse shot. On top of that there’s still Custom which gives you full control. The fact that Canon has been improving the timelapse menu over their latest few cameras is to, obviously, very exciting.
The flip out screen. Or as Canon calls it the Vari-Angle screen. Three inches in diameter and over a million pixels makes this touch screen a pleasure to use. If you’re using the viewfinder to shoot video you can control where the camera is focusing by dragging your finger over the screen. A really neat trick that more cameras should adopt. The camera also features focus peaking, which for some reason we can’t find on any of the higher end models..
What I dislike about the Canon M50:
The battery life. It’s rated in normal shooting mode for only 235 shots (370 in Eco mode). This is disappointing. I managed to shoot about 8 timelapse sequences on one full battery. This has to be better, especially considering the camera isn’t activating a big mirror movement which drains battery life.
The kit lens isn’t the sharpest. Maybe I’m biased because I almost exclusively shoot on L series glass but I was expecting a little bit more from this little thing. It’s definitely sharp enough, just needs a touch more in my opinion.
It could use another scroll wheel on the back to quickly change settings. Yes, the touch screen makes life easier but when you’re used to shooting with two scroll wheels (one for shutter, the other for aperture) it’s hard to get used to.
No long exposures in timelapse. This is the one that put me off the most. You want to be able to ‘drag the shutter’ to for example one second shutter speed when shooting at a 2 second interval. For some reason this isn’t possible on this camera (trust me, I tried). It’s especially strange because this limitation isn’t to be found on the 6DMkII. It feels like an oversight and hopefully it gets corrected with a firmware update in the future.
Final thoughts on the Canon M50:
I really wanted to love this camera. I’ve been waiting for a very long time for a capable mirrorless camera system by the brand I’ve been shooting on since the start. As much as I appreciate the effort that has gone into this camera, the fact that it is entry level means that it isn’t for me. It has it’s use for many people, however it won’t be getting a spot in my timelapse bag. Hopefully the rumoured upcoming full frame mirrorless one does!
Tourism and Events Queensland called me up a while back asking if it’s possible to shoot a sunset to sunrise timelapse project and then have the edited video go live on the same day. I said yes. Here’s how we did it.
Sunrise to sunset - Timelapse production vlog - YouTube
Details about the project:
The tourism board for the state of Queensland, on the East coast of Australia called me up a few months ago about a project. During the Commonwealth Games they are hosting a festival called Festival2018. A lot of activities and events are planned as part of that festival, one of them being ‘Wavefields’. You can call it a sleep over on the beach, under the stars, surrounded by a live music performance by Lawrence English.
They wanted to know if it was possible to film a timelapse piece that started before sunset, went overnight (astro time!) and ended right after sunrise. That’s usually a pretty demanding brief already, however to add to the challenge they wanted the video to go live as soon as possible (like, within 48 hours). To add some more fun to the mix they requested a livestream of the sun rising to stream to their nearly 2 million person audience on the Visit Queensland Facebook page.
What are the main challenges on a project like this:
As your shooting window is so small you’ll need multiple cameras to shoot multiple angles at the same time to increase your efficiency (always look for ways to increase your efficiency). This leads to heavy bags, which is annoying to travel with. Even flying with a premium airline such as Virgin Australia you will be forced to check in some of your expensive equipment, which is never to be recommended.
Data processing. There is simply not enough time to record thousands of RAW photos, after which you’ll need to compile them into video files. This colour grading and rendering process takes a ton of time, which simply wasn’t available.
Client feedback. Usually there are a couple of rounds of feedback between the client and yourself. As we opted to deliver the video a few hours after sunrise there was very little time for feedback.
Livestream: you need a reliable mobile data connection to stream out high enough image quality.
What gear did we use to make this project possible:
How did we overcome the previously mentioned challenges:
First up, you need more than two hands and eyes. I was lucky enough to have a buddy live close by who helped me out from when I landed till when I took off again the next day. I highly recommend checking out Nicolas Rakotopare‘s work if you’re ever in need of a conservationist photographer or videographer. Nico recently moved back to the Gold Coast and it’s safe to say that this project wouldn’t have succeeded without his great help. He’s also to thank for the many great behind the scenes shots you would have seen in the production vlog. Check out his website here: Lerako.net
Now, for the solutions to the challenges brought up previously:
Multiple angles, multiple cameras. Firstly, pack smart. Have a full shooting kit in your carry on and the rest in your checkin bag. Ideally all is carry on but that is rarely possible. I was told about a recent crackdown on carry on weight with Virgin so I couldn’t really work around it, I packed my extra kit into a separate camera bag, which I loaded in a hard shell case that would get checked in. Luckily the luggage arrived safely. Now for the multiple cameras: this is where your assistant comes in. The other person has an extra set of hands and eyes and can help you set up and break down, as well as monitor exposure and lighting conditions etc. Shooting in two locations at the same time is now also possible.
Data processing. There is no time to process thousands of RAW photos, so I opted to shoot using the 6DMkII’s built in ‘4K timelapse movie mode’ which shoots and compiles a timelapse in camera. The trick here is to make sure your exposure is as close to perfect as possible, as you have very little room in post to colour grade or correct under or over exposed imagery. Having the 4K files for a HD timeline meant we could stabilise or reframe without losing any pixels as our frame was four times bigger than necessary.
Client feedback. It is crucial that you have a great understanding of the project and the desired outcome of your client. Having worked with lots of tourism boards in the past, as well as having worked with the specific people on this project meant that we were all ‘on the same frequency’, meaning I understood very clearly from the start what they were after. This meant that we could plan a single round of feedback to get to the end result (as opposed to two or three rounds of feedback on other projects) faster.
Livestream. Using the Teradek Vidiu, which accepts any HDMI signal (video and audio), transcodes it for web and streams it to your desired platform of choice we set up and tested all settings the day before. Half an hour before sunrise all the gear was set up and ready to go. I opted to connect to the internet using a 4G USB modem, which should always be a more reliable connection than hotspotting off of someone’s phone. The backup plan for any mishaps would be to go live on a mobile phone. The reason we went live on a DSLR (the 1DXMkII) was because we wanted to have high resolution footage and a lens that could zoom in, allowing us more close up footage of the sun coming out of the horizon.
This blog post is all about the milky way and astrophotography. If you’ve ever needed Milky Way Season explained then you’ve come to the right place.
Milky way season explained - How to find the milky way - YouTube
What is Milky Way Season?
Planet earth is located in a barred spiral galaxy. We are situated on one of the arms of the spiral with our own solar system. Think of it as a flat disk.
If you look to the centre of the galaxy, you will find a higher density of stars and gas clouds, which is what we call the galactic core.
You can see this galactic core and milky way with the naked eye if you are in a dark enough place. It looks like a faint, milky band in the sky.
Because of earth’s journey and rotation around the sun, some times of year are better than others to witness the galactic core.
If you’re in the Northern hemisphere it is visible at night (other times of year the core is in the sky during the day, rendering it invisible) from March till October, with prime viewing times from late April till late July.
In the Southern hemisphere you’re at an advantage as you can see the core from February till October, with the prime time being June and July.
How do you find the Milky Way:
There are a lot of ways you can locate the Milky Way but my preferred one is using an app called Photopills. It’s developed by a team in the Canary Islands and their app is like a Swiss army knife for photographers.
Once you’ve downloaded and opened Photopills, scroll to the ‘planner’.
At the top, above the map, scroll sideways till you hit ‘visibility GC (galactic core)’.
Use the pin on the lower right to navigate to your current location, or use any of the other pin options to navigate to another place. You can save pins and visit them later.
Scroll forward and backward in time using the bottom navigation bar (with the sun and timing on it). Depending on the season you will see a half circle of white dots appear. These dots are a representation of the angle and orientation of the milky way, with the biggest dot being the galactic core.
If you’re location scouting for a shoot in the future, you can adjust the timing by clicking on the time and edit the time and day.
If you’re at the spot where you are shooting or you want to find out where the milky way is where you live, try the AR feature, which will overlay a night sky over your phone’s camera feed. It uses the internal gyroscopes to give you an accurate representation of what lies in the skies.
What you need to shoot the Milky Way or Galactic Core:
This is honestly really simple. Use photopills to determine where the galactic core is. Set your camera on a tripod, make sure it’s steady and not shaking due to wind or ground vibrations. Enable the delayed shutter or use a remote. Fire off a few test shots to make sure you like the composition. Make sure your lens’ image stabilisation is turned off (if you have it).
Your settings will probably end up looking something like this: iso3200 f2.8 20s
Don’t forget to shoot RAW photos, you’ll be able to extract way more data in post production to make your photo POP more. We’ll discuss post processing astro photos in another blog post.
If you’ve ever wondered how to do a day to night Photoshop then this tutorial is for you! You can watch the video or read the step by step guide here. I go over gear you need, what you need to capture and the workflow in photoshop to get the desired day to night endresult.
If you are looking for 5 timelapse tips in 30 seconds then you’re on the right page. In the video I kind of sped through everything because I felt like making a bit of a ridiculous video and I wanted to see what I could pull off. If you have no idea what I’m talking about then please have a look at the video below.
5 TIMELAPSE tips in 30 seconds! - YouTube
Here is the written version of these five timelapse tips.
Timelapse tip #1 – Get an ND filter
An ND filter – or Neutral Density filter – is a dark piece of glass that you put in front of your lens. Think of it like a pair of sunglasses for you camera. The goal here is to lengthen your shutter speed – aka dragging your shutter – to create longer exposures, resulting in smooth motion blur. In my experience, even cheap ND filters work really well. Check out the vlog I made about that ages ago (this vlog blew up and got me a lot of heat in the comments, it’s quite funny, I recommend you have a look at how upset people get for very silly reasons)
ICE ND1000 10 stop ND filter. This is the cheap ND filter I use in the video.
B+W 10 stop ND filter. This is a more expensive, higher quality ND filter.
Cheap ND filter vs Expensive ND filter - An educational vlog in 4K - YouTube
Timelapse tip #2 – Which interval settings to use
These values are averages and can still change depending on your surroundings however they’re a great place to start.
People and traffic: 1-2 seconds
Clouds and landscapes: 3-6 seconds
Sunset or sunrise: 6-10 seconds
Especially with people and traffic it is important to get some motion blur by dragging your shutter. You will get the smoothest results if your shutter speed equals half the interval time.
Timelapse tip #3 – Shoot in Manual mode and RAW
Make sure your camera is on Manual mode and that none of your settings (like white balance and iso) are on auto.
You want to shoot RAW photos as opposed to JPEG photos as RAW gives you much more latitude to work with in post production. You can change the white balance, recover dark shadows and bright highlights etc. A JPEG is a compressed photo, a RAW is the raw data that comes from the image sensor.
Timelapse tip #4 – Get a sturdy tripod
Make sure your tripod is sturdy. You can weigh it down or spread it’s legs more to minimise vibrations and impact from the wind. If your shot does end up being shaky or bumpy then try applying the Warp Stabiliser effect in Adobe After Effects or Adobe Premiere Pro to remove the motion.
Timelapse tip #5 – Turn off your lens Image Stabilisation
If your lens (or camera) has image stabilisation make sure to turn it off before shooting. If left on the internal mechanism will look for motion when it’s mounted on the tripod, resulting in shaky timelapse footage. Again, this can be fixed in post using the Warp Stabiliser.
Thanks for stopping by. If these tutorials are useful to you, please consider checking out my Patreon page below.