Using Time Lapse with Cable cam: Tips and tricks

Time lapse is a new function of Cable cam; you can access it in the Cable cam options menu. Time lapse allows you to slow Solo down to a crawl, flying your cable smoothly at an incremental pace impossible to achieve manually. Instead of measuring speed in terms of velocity, time lapse gives you your flight speed in terms of the time it takes to fly the cable, for a much better idea of where Solo will be and when. You can fly a time lapse Cable down to 10% battery life, at which point Solo automatically returns home.

Best practices for time lapse

  • First rule: Keep it simple. Fly a smooth and straight Cable, especially when you’re just starting to use the feature. When you speed up a time lapse video with a lot of camera movement it can feel unsteady and unnatural to the viewer.
  • In fact, it’s best to set a Cable with just two frames. Too much movement might make it seem like your video is speeding up. A successful time lapse is all about stabilization — not just movement, but also creating stable and smooth fast-forward time.
  • It’s also a good principle to have key elements in both the foreground and background. The parallax between them shows movement.
  • When you get more comfortable, try to integrate tilt, via your keyframes. The more axes you’re using, the more dynamic your video. Don’t set too many, though — remember that you want your final product to be as stable as possible.
  • For the most stability, think of it as a dynamic, controlled tripod. Pull back slowly for a unique reveal of an area.
  • The real magic of time lapse is in pairing a slow-moving camera with fast-moving subjects; it feels like you’re cheating time.
  • That said, you need to balance your distance and variance. Time lapse is essentially a sped-up video. This means that if you’re trying to capture and convey movement on the ground, you don’t want the camera to move too quickly, because those two movements at the same time won’t feel balanced. Conversely, if you’re capturing something static, you’ll probably want your camera movement to be as dynamic as possible.

Best practices for camera settings

  • The GoPro works best under consistent lighting. Dramatic lighting in a time lapse can convey unwanted variance; this is true of any drone without a micro-4/3 camera.
  • This is because your GoPro tries to calculate and adjust exposure as it records. So if the sun comes out from behind a building, for instance, the camera will blow out. Plus, when you speed that up in a time lapse it looks explosive.
  • It’s best to use pictures to capture your time lapse, if you can, and not video. You’ll get better bit depth and better quality, and you won’t lose all those frames when your post-production software compresses video time.
  • To capture time lapse stills with your GoPro, set it to “interval” before you take off. For the duration of your flight, the camera will automatically take photos at the interval you select.
  • Choose longer intervals if you don’t have a lot of change in your shot, and shorter intervals if there’s more movement. (Shorter intervals will emphasize change.)
  • Tip: If you don’t want your camera snapping pictures the whole time you’re setting up your Cable, set and save your Cable first. Then land, change your GoPro to interval and go capture your shot.

Best practices for post production

  • We find that Adobe After Effects gets the best results.
  • First, import all your photos into AE as an image sequence, which animates them into a video.
  • Once you import your image sequence, place that sequence into a new composition at the native resolution (i.e., if you shot 12MP import as 12MP).
  • We recommend shooting at 12MP; you’ll have more pixels to work with in post.
  • Stabilization is a major key. While warp stabilizer works great for video, for an image sequence you’ll want to lock onto specific elements as your scene passes in order to calibrate your stabilization.
  • To do this in AE, open the “tracker” window and select “stabilize motion.” By default the “position” box is checked. You should also activate “scale” and “rotation.” Stabilizing the scale of your time lapse is especially important if you’re pushing in or pulling out. Rotation is important for linear camera movements, because it allows you to perfect the balance of your parallax.
  • For post stabilization, it’s important that you have extra pixels to work with; this is one reason we recommend shooting 12MP stills.
  • In rotation stabilization, AE lets you set two points. You’ll want to drag them to positions far away from each other. This means the rotation stabilization will be balanced across the width of your shot. Setting the points close together is less effective, as the stabilization will be too narrow.

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