Mini Tutorials

How to make a time-lapse at the airport

In this time-lapse tutorial, our friend Mauro Mendula give us several advices for creating a time-lapse at the airport.

Hey friends,
finally I’ve found the time to write a few lines on the making of a video timelapse of airport traffic. First of all, let’s watch what I achieved as this post is based on the below video:

Airport time-lapse: the equipment and the location

Let’s start with the equipment I used:

  • 3 Canon EOS: Canon 400D, Canon 60D e Canon 5D Mark II
  • Wide angle lenses: Sigma 10-20mm for the Aps-C and Canon 17-40mm L for the full frame
  • Motorised tripod Acuter Merlin (which is giving me great satisfaction)
  • Various Intervalometers

Why choosing an airport? For at least two reasons: it features a mix of human and mechanical dynamics easily enhanceable with the time-lapse technique. And if you are lucky enough with “Nature” well… satisfaction can get at the highest levels!

I shot it at the airport Olbia Costa Smeralda, overcoming the first hurdle regarding privacy and permissions immediately: as an airport operator I certainly had that bonus authorisations and operations to more easily move to the points of greatest interest for the construction of the scenes.

The first this you want to do is: contact the offices to get all the necessary authorisations.

Airport time-lapse: The story to tell

I tried to follow the path of a passenger type, then a first round front of the terminal, an overview of the interior, on a desks and finally the trail. The only traffic recorded in the square following a period of 3 hours, from h.19.30 to h.22.30, covers for the striking transition from day to night and a period of substantial changes.

The settings I used

Outdoor I have been working in aperture priority, AWB, ISO 600, sRAW saved in order not to lose anything in quality and have greater chance of recovery if anything had gone the wrong way.

What I feared most was the day-night transition in the presence of strong sources of light coming through the large light towers that warms the color temperature changing from moment to moment.

How to shoot inside the airport terminal

I went totally manual with ISO 200: due to the constant light in this case I have at least spared the need to intervene in the flickering in postproduction.

The assembly part
Once developed with DPP Raw, I wrote the scenes to be passed through a deflicker software like Virtual Dub, which I easily done with Mac and the emulation of the software. I love this freeware program with great potential!

On other occasions it literally saved me on a dynamic range really hard to recover. I put everything at 24 fps per second and exported to AVI, also here not to lose anything in quality.

Then I moved to After Effect, with I assembled the scenes in Full HD applying a little motion blur, adjusting the levels with a slight color correction, creating the typical tilt-shift effect (no exaggeration) to give some idea of ​​miniaturisation, and finally applying the right pan-zoom to give more dynamism to the shooting (waiting for the dolly on which to mount my motorised head). Of course, titles have been added in this phase.

I exported everything in Apple Pro Res 4444 (great for editing but lighter than the AVI). With Final Cut I then added the music (May Dance) trying to match the cuts with those scenes.

At this point I changed to H264 and export for the web. Despite the good compression system, quality is not excellent, but I assure you in full HD mov the original maintains a dynamic range perfect without any artefact not even on the grid in the night .

The result, however, is what you have seen at the top of this page!

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