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How to: Legal Urban Time-lapse

Infinity is Now

Ill Funk Freaker
28DL Full Member
#1
6653143255_364c2251e2_z.jpg

As we all know, being atop rooftops, cranes and high places by day tends to be quite an obvious way to get spotted and caught. Well, to an extent anyway. As of the last few years, to replace the general boredom of teen life, I discovered the fun that could be had up hotels and public buildings. While generally I had been seeking access to the roof, an also the likes of swimming pools and jacuzzis, much of the time these were locked quite tightly, however I always made the effort to get at least a glimpse of the view whenever the building was tall enough.

Anyway, I decided I wanted to make a time-lapse somewhere legitimate and by day and here's my first efforts. I actually intended to shoot into the night, which I did, but didn't include the footage since the reflections of the windows became too prominent. You can still see the indistinct reflections of me and the wall behind me in the video.


Here's how to do it (yes, it's that simple!):

You need:

-Camera + spare batteries (long exposures seriously rinse your power)
-Tripod
-External shutter release cable/remote (preferably with a shutter locking device on it so you don't have to keep clicking away)
-Extra memory card if you need one (I shot at the lowest resolution but still filled the memory card pretty quickly)
-Sweets/fizzy drinks/food (lots of)
-Something to do - a book/iPod/laptop (these places often have free wi-fi)
-A hotel with a view
-Time


1) Find a nice hotel with a view. Walk through the front doors and hit the lift to the top! I did my time-lapse from the St Pancras Novotel - 16 stories, big open windows and nice and cosy. There was even a sofa and power supply so I just chilled and read Frankenstein while the camera did the work for me.

2) Sort out your camera settings. You want nice long exposures in order to get clean sweeping movements of cars and people. I shot at ISO 100 and used aperture priority mode at f/22 which I later opened up to f/9 when it got dark and the shutter speeds were too long.

3) Plug in your shutter release and sit back and relax while your camera does the dirty work! My video was made from about 2 hours of photos.

4) BANG. Read your online tutorials and get your video made! I tried to make this video with some expensive professional software but struggled massively. In the end I just chucked the photos (2,309) into Windows Movie Maker and changed the FPS to 0.03. Seemed to do the job okay, resolution was fine (despite the pixels and small format of the Youtube video).
Obviously this could be done anywhere, this is merely an example intended to spur you lazy bastards on in doing something anyone can do, and with great results! Hope to see some more of these in the future (but from greater, less legitimate heights please!). Winner gets the pleasure of owning a nice video in their name. Cheers!

Scott
 

Attachments

Grit

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#3
man thats awesome, i do lots of time lapses and stuff but in day only ever pop the bottle to do stuff on like car parks.

I frequently look at these hotels and skyscrapers and think I may as well just try going in and loooking for roof acess or a view but in he daytime I never seem to crack the bottle

really nice stuff mate cheers:thumb
 

Saul

Basterd
28DL Full Member
#4
Looks good that mate.

I find any old Canon compact loaded with the relevant CHDK and the Ultra Intervalometer script is great for this kind of thing.
 

pantomime horse

Nay Nay and thrice Nay
28DL Full Member
#5
this is absolutely incredible
how long were you filming for?
and yes I could after the 3rd viewing spot your reflection
 

pantomime horse

Nay Nay and thrice Nay
28DL Full Member
#8
He was taking photos not filming, and if you read it it says.

Great stuff :thumb
hey
be nice
I know he used 2 hours of footage for his timelapse video
but he also says the darkness footage didn't work out so well.
so the question was not how long the footage he shows us took, but rather how long in total was he shooting for.
cheers folks
 

Za Gringo

28DL Zoo Member
28DL Full Member
#12
"Walk through the front doors and hit the lift to the top!"

Is pretty much it. In fact not just hotels but all publicly accessible buildings. Altho i have been stopped in the past.

Most hotels have pools gyms, saunas, steam rooms etc and if your felling cheeky take your kit and after taking in a few room numbers youll find a room number is your "key"

Funny enough did a pano from one yesterday eve.

Timelapses also look good if you take in the clouds at sun set rise so that you have twice the movement or if there is just roof tops then it can be the only movements in the frame. Also weather changes work.

Ive tried a couple but havent got round to looking at them since. Ive even tried HDR timelaps but again been lazy and all were a lot less shots than infinities example.

Good werk.

ps i wonder if a polerising filter would cut out the glare in the window?

Also possible one of those NGrad? filters to properly expose the sky?

Sounds like more messing about then just point and fire and also intoduces the possibility of camera shake as you try and sort it all out as the light changes. Not really tried the whole thing seriously or long enough yet tho.

Apparantly exporting them via quick time is one of the quickest ways to produce a timelapse although the only one i tried came out jerky. It was just a matter of pointing quickime at a folder full of images and it done the rest. 2 clicks and it was a movie. No idea what ive done with it now.
 
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Infinity is Now

Ill Funk Freaker
28DL Full Member
#14
Most hotels have pools gyms, saunas, steam rooms etc and if your felling cheeky take your kit and after taking in a few room numbers youll find a room number is your "key"
Thanks for the wicked comment man! I have mucked around inside an extensive list of hotels over the years, including the likes of the top names in town. Some seriously incredible swimming pools out there, which I won't name as they're so easy to get into, but the ease of access always used to be aided to by my youth. Big mosaic arches and fountains etc.. Aside from the chains like Travelodge etc (that have careful security measures in place to prevent accidents etc) roof top doors are generally always flapping in the wind too which is always good fun during those summer months!

Timelapses also look good if you take in the clouds at sun set rise so that you have twice the movement or if there is just roof tops then it can be the only movements in the frame. Also weather changes work.
Also possible one of those NGrad? filters to properly expose the sky?
Yeah an ND grad would definitely be a good idea. My camera has some flaws in metering..The clouds were moving very slowly so I changed my mind in terms of composition to the road but initially wanted to do something focussing on the sky changing from light to dark. After the window problem I think I'll probably just put on my hat, gloves and scarf for next time and brace the elements next time!

Nice. Good gangstarr instrumental on the vid too works well
The one and only master of instrumentals..