London Timescapes is a short documentary film made of timelapses. I’ve been shooting them for the most part of last year, and then processing raw materials for the most part of this year. It took a moment to assemble everything together.
It premiered this October in Karlsruhe, Germany as part of the competition programme of Beyond 3D film festival. Yes, I shot it in native stereoscopic 3D. Hence the trouble. Double the amount of materials, need to constantly synchronise colour grading settings for both eyes. But stereoscopic timelapses is something that you don’t see to often, and I think it was worth it. Especially when you watch it with Oculus Rift.
Digital photography is easy and quick. It doesn’t take much time to snap a pic and move to the next one. I think this is the reason why more of us are moving back to analog film. Slow photography forces you to spend some time with the subject, appreciate the moment, be in that moment. Timelapsing is the same thing. You go to the unknown place, discover it, then set a shot and start filming. It takes anywhere between 15 and 45 min to finish that shot. Plenty of time to appreciate the subject. You might end up taking another shot at the same location, but quite often you would move to the next one. One shot, one location. That’s also a general rule when shooting film.
Timelapsing on busy streets of London turned out to be not that huge of a deal. I did a bit of research, and general advice was that you can film anywhere you want, but if someone asks you to stop, you indeed should do so. On two occasions this happened to me. First was in Greenwich Naval College - after me spending almost 2 hours of timelapsing there someone finally noticed my tripod and asked for permission to film there. Tripod is basically a red flag for differentiating between commercial and hobby photography. Second time was next to the Kings Cross railways station - again with a delay of about half an hour they asked me to move off the grounds of the train station square.
Busy streets and crowds are also manageable. Generally crowds are following certain patterns and are moving in a limited amount of directions. There are plenty of corners even on a busiest street where you can park your tripod and not be an obstacle. Takes a few moments to find that spot. With stereoscopic photography this is more tricky, since you have to maintain certain distance to the closest subject, and not let anyone get closer. Long exposure time helps.
For the next project I will probably try 360 degree timelapsing. With 4 cameras to cover the full panorama and 5th camera to point at the sky, this should be something quite suitable for VR goggles. And VR is going to be hot topic next year.
London can be overwhelming. It is huge, constantly changing beast that never sleeps. It takes years to explore this place. This project was a good start for me. There will be more.