How to Create a Hyperlapse in Premiere Pro or After Effects

After Effects 27/10/2019 7 min read

Hi guys! Jordan with Motion Array and today we’re going to take a look at how to create a hyperlapse!  So what’s a hyperlapse? Basically, it’s a timelapse with motion.

Okay, so we’re gonna walk you through how we go about getting hyperlapses, but if you wanted a more in-depth tutorial on how to create a regular timelapses in specific. It might be helpful to have a grip on that before diving into the “more advanced version.” So, in a nutshell, motion in a hyperlapse comes from the physical camera taking the images moving through 3D space.

We could spend a lot of time talking about it, but I’m pretty sure you just want to see the “how to” section.  So let’s go for it!

We’re gonna rip through the list of what to do and then I’m gonna take a little bit more time to explain the process.  So what do you do?

  1. Find a beautiful location
  2. Dial in your camera settings
  3. Choose a focal point of your hyperlapse
  4. Take a picture
  5. Move a bit closer
  6. Take another picture
  7. Move a bit closer
  8. Take another picture
  9. Rinse and repeat till you’re satisfied

Okay, so that’s the basic process, but let’s actually delve into that a little more.

I’m here in Vancouver, British Columbia, and here, it feels like it’s tough to take a bad hyperlapse. There’s a lot going on all the time, which can make the “things happening to really sell the fact that time is passing” part of the hyperlapse really easy.

First question, tripod or no tripod? That’s really up to you. You can use a tripod if you want, but for this example, I’m just gonna go handheld. Why? Because it’s way faster. To get absolutely perfectly smooth hyperlapses, you’ll likely have a bit more success working with a tripod. You’ll have a higher likelihood of getting your shots to be smooth like this, and less shaky and jittery like this. That doesn’t mean smooth shots are impossible without a tripod, but whatever you decide to choose, tripod or handheld, the following principles will still apply to both.

Okay, so first things first is you want to find a great location. A hyperlapse will look a little dull if there’s nothing really going on in your shot. My suggestion, go outdoors in a public area and focus on one landmark of significance. Why? Because if there’s clouds, and people moving all around, it’s going to be way easier to see the time passing by. And by focusing on a landmark, you’re giving your shot a subject for the viewer’s attention to be focused on, giving direction and purpose to your hyperlapse. One of the biggest problems with a lot of hyperlapses is that, even though they look beautiful, they kind of wander aimlessly without a goal or a purpose. This here, that’s your goal. Focus on that, in whatever way you want to make it truly your own.

Now that you have your location chosen, here’s a quick tip. Go into your camera settings and turn on as many guides and measurements as possible so that you can more easily line up your images. I have my rule of thirds grid on, a center point marker, as well as a level. Once you got all that down, you want to know how to take your photos consistently.

You want to find a specific point to line up your shot with. This will help you to be able to keep the framing as consistent as possible throughout the dozens, if not hundreds of photos you’ll be taking.  Place it on a third, make it center. Your call. Just make sure you can pretty easily replicate the framing, like, 200 times in a row. So for me, I’m going to focus this part of the building, on this part of the grid here. Nice and simple to replicate. From here, you’re just going to take a picture, walk forward a specific distance. For me it’s just 1 step. If you want to walk 3 steps or 10 steps, that’s totally up to you, just move the same distance every time. This will keep the actual 3D movement of your camera through space consistent and smooth when you string every photo together, making it feel like it was on some sort of a robotic camera rig.

Okay, so now lets take that step forward. Frame the shot again, making sure to line up what you were using as guided before, and then take another shot, take a step, line it up, take the shot, and rinse and repeat. So the question is when do you stop? Here’s where you might need to have done some math beforehand. Ask yourself how long you want your time lapse to last for. Let’s say I want mine to be 3 seconds. Next, ask yourself what framerate you plan to deliver your video at. This matters. Because if I want 3 seconds on a 24fps timeline, that’s going to be 72 individual pictures. But if you’re planning to work in a 60 fps sequence, then you’re gonna have to take 180 pictures! For me, I like 24fps, so once I get to 72 pictures, I know I’ve achieved my timing in theory. But if I still like the way the set of shots are turning out, I might just keep going. There’s no guarantee that the first 72 pictures that I took are the best, so I’m going to keep going for a bit until I’m happy, knowing that I can make the hyperlapse longer if I want or just choose a different 3 second section once all is said and done. If you’re in the moment, just get the best shots you can.

Okay, so you’ve gotten the first set of photos to make up your hyperlapse.  But before we get on a computer and piece this together, here’s a few more tips on how to get the most out of your hyperlapses.  Try not to use a fisheye. Anything focal length under 16mm has a high chance of giving you enough distortion to make even the most minor of framing imperfections look large.  Try sticking to 24mm as the widest you go unless you’re really confident.

Next, anything you can do to keep your motion consistent will help.  If there’s a line in the sidewalk that you can follow for a long time, try to use it as a guide.

Or if you’re super lazy, or creative, you can get something to do the motion for you. If you jump on a skytrain or subway, or something where you can point a camera directly out the front or back, you can set up your camera on a tripod and a timer so that all you have to do is sit back, relax, and let the camera and train do the work for you.

Now that we’ve gotten this set of photos, it’s time to bring them into your computer. There’s two different ways that you can go about this, one for after effects, and one for adobe premiere pro.

If you’re in after effects you open up your import settings and select all the photos in the sequence you shot them, and select import as a photo sequence.

Once you do, you should be able to work with all your photos as their own sequence, acting as a makeshift video file. You’re probably going to have a tough time working with this as is though, because each of these photos is still a high quality raw still that I shot with, and playing those in rapid succession is tough for a lot of computers to hanle. So at this point you can actually just go up to file, export, and export it in the format that you want to work with it for your video. For me I’ll just export it as a quicktime animation file, and save it to the folder for my project.

From there you can just drag and drop it within premiere pro, but if you don’t want to work within After Effects, let’s go over the process of only working inside of Premiere Pro. Start by making sure that all your photos are in their own folder on your computer. Drag and drop the folder itself into premiere. This will just help to keep things nice and organized. From there, highlight all of your photos in your project manager in order. And yes, the order matters. Select the first one, scroll down to the last one, hold shift and click on the last one. Now click and drag all your photos onto your timeline. From there, you’ll probably notice a couple things, the first of which is that your photos are all lasting for longer than a single frame. Probably 5 seconds or so. An easy solution for that is to highlight all of your photos and right click, then go to speed duration settings.

From here you can manually key in the duration to be only one frame. But if you were to just do that there’d be a lot of dead space between photos, so make sure ripple edit is selected and then hit ok. Now when you scroll through you should see your hyperlapse taking effect. But you’re not out of the woods yet. Chances are your photos are going to be scaled up way too much because they were taken at a higher resolution than your composition is set up for. So here’s what you can do. Go to any individual photo and scale it down. An easy way to start this out is to right click and select set to frame size. This will probably leave some black on the sides of the frame, so then scale it back up until the background is completely covered. Then if you don’t like the framing just centered in, you can move it either up or down to make your framing look more pleasant.  Then go up to effect controls, highlight the motion settings, and copy it. Then select all your photos in the sequence and hit Control or Command + V to paste these settings, and all the photos in your sequence will have these new settings. Once you’ve gotten it to a place you like, you can work with your hyperlapse a lot easier by highlighting all your photos, right clicking, and nesting. Now your hyperlapse is able to be worked with as it’s own unique clip. And you can take a look at what it looks like from here just by setting some in and out points and rendering out this section. Once it’s ready, take a look at your results!

From here you’ll probably notice that there’s a bit of a jitter within your shots.  Now comes the magic. On your nested clip, just throw on a warp stabilizer effect, which takes your video from looking like this to this.   If you’re wanting an in-depth tutorial on warp stabilizer, we’ve got you covered. It’s this video here, a complete guide to using warp stabilizer.

But guys, that’s the basics of how to pull off a hyperlapse with the help of Premiere Pro or After Effects. If you guys liked this video, let us know about it. Also, if you just want to use some awesome hyperlapses in your next video, I’ve linked a list of my favourite hyperlapse videos.

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