The Perseid meteor shower is one of the most spectacular showers of the year. This year, instead of shooting it myself, I decided to host a workshop to introduce other artists to the wonderful world of capturing nature through timelapse.
This film was made by our crew of timelapse newbies and myself over 4 days. You'll see dozens of meteors zip across the sky against a backdrop of the Milky Way. You'll also see scenes with smoke from the nearby Banning wildfire that occurred during our first day at the workshop.
About the workshop:
Taught by timelapse filmmaker Henry Jun Wah Lee, participants learned how to shoot everything from static to multi-axis, day to night, and astro timelapses. The 4 day workshop also covered how to process RAW photos into Ultra HD resolution 4K videos.
Thanks to Kessler Crane for supplying the motion control devices for our participants. Shot with Kessler Pocket Dolly, Cineslider, Shuttle Pod Mini, Shuttle Pod, Philip Bloom Pocket Dolly, Revolution v2 Head, 3 axis Cinedrive, and Oracle controllers.
A short and creepy montage of scenes shot around the ever-photogenic island of Manhattan -- filmed entirely in high-dynamic range and comprised of some HDR Timelapse footage I shot, along with a collection of slow-motion and normal 24fps footage processed from Red Epic-X RAW video that I recently captured and then exported as -2,0+2 TIFF stacks to be tone mapped in Photomatix using a batch processing workflow. Please note that none of this was shot using HDRx -- only normal exposures from the camera post-converted into HDR using the traditional faux-HDR method of pushing and pulling the RAW file to create bracketed images.
While HDRx is a powerful tool with a lot of benefits for shooting realistic looking extended dynamic range, I chose to steer clear of it this time in an effort to avoid the motion artifacts that come with it. Especially in light of the fact that I imagine those slight artifacts would have been particularly problematic when working with a more "surreal" method of HDR tone-mapping, as opposed to the more subdued and natural proprietary algorithm Red uses. Also, in this case, the goal was to show the added "pop" you get with HDR video when tone-mapped using a Photomatix detail compressing workflow, while trying to avoid going too far over the top and completely "cracking out" the image.
Please note that my method admittedly has several drawbacks -- namely the grain from the pushed footage is a little excessive at times (a lot at others), and additionally, the push/pull limitations of the RAW file still won't allow me to capture the full dynamic range of an extreme lighting location like Times Square the way I can with DSLR bracketing of many more stops. Thus, billboards are still blown out in some of the shots -- just not as blown out as they would have been in traditional video footage. Additionally, unfortunately in an attempt to mask some of the excessive noise, I took some artistic liberties with noise reduction, and the overall sharpness suffers a bit in several shots. There are also some flickering issues, some related to the high-frame rates I shot at for certain scenes, and others related more to the processing of the HDR itself, since preventing the ugly halos associated with bad HDR is even more tricky with moving footage. I think I did my best under the circumstances, but there are a few shots where halos rear their ugly heads.
To top it off, some of the high-frame rate footage was shot at a higher compression rate (and a few normal 24fps shots where I goofed), and thus the tone-mapped image really brings out some of the artifacts there too. I tried to keep that footage to a minimal, but there were certain shots that I liked compositionally that I chose to include anyway.
Nevertheless, the idea here is to give you an idea of what can be captured with a workflow similar to this, as well as to hint at what might be possible once in-camera HDR technology improves to the point of capturing at least three exposures simultaneously without the added detriment of having to push and pull in post, which as stated before, adds quite a bit of grain.