Filming great time lapse videos in London

Filming great time lapse videos in London

Filming great time lapse videos in London is not only great fun but the opportunities to create something really special are numerous. The incredible variety of great architecture and iconic buildings combined with busy traffic and busy crowds make it a perfect place to capture some amazing time lapse videos. When we have a break in filming we love to get into London and film some time lapse videos for stock. We contribute footage to Pond5, one of the worlds leading photography and video stock libraries.  It gives us a chance to experiment with new techniques, equipment and software.  If successful we can then use these new found skills for clients in our work.

PLANNING

It is important to plan your shoot and ideally recce the locations prior to filming.

  • Identify the best viewpoint. Note the movement of the traffic and people.
  • Is there any construction work planned that could spoil the view? Leave your recce as late as possible.
  • Check the weather. Rain is a nightmare as it will get onto the lens.  After a shower can be great as it can produce great reflections. Strong wind can move the camera. 
  • Do you need permission? Increasingly in London, many places that appear to be in the public domain are not (unless you pay a substantial fee) On the plus side, some officious security guards will tell you you can’t take photographs when in fact you can. If in doubt…check! Information can usually be found on the landlords website. As a rule, if it is a public road and pavement you are free to film.
  • Take note of the position of the sun. Ideally you don’t want to be shooting into the sun.
  • Try and think ‘outside the box’. Could you create something different from the norm?

SAFETY

The amount of people in London never ceases to amaze me. Although busy crowds are desirable, you have to be careful. Ideally you want to position your camera in the best vantage point but this may not be the safest place. People are constantly checking their mobile phones whilst on the move and not looking where they are going. This means they can easily walk into your tripod or trip over it!  Of course I don’t want anyone to get hurt but I also don’t want them ruining a great time lapse half way through by accidentally moving the camera. Be vigilant!  I have improved the visibility of my tripod by adding both bright green florescent  and reflective tape to alert pedestrians to its presence.

WHERE AND WHAT TO FILM?

From a commercial point of view, and to increase your chances of selling the videos it makes sense to film the most iconic buildings and tourist destinations . But think ‘outside the box’. What other possibilities are there?  Photographs and videos portraying ‘Business’  have always been big sellers for stock libraries. I chose the Bank of England as a potential subject for these reasons. The economy, BREXIT, mortgages, money, stocks and shares are constantly in the news, and therefore in demand from various media channels.

TECHNIQUE

We aim to create final time lapse sequences of about 15 seconds in length. This gives the end user enough footage to play with when editing. They might want to select a particular section of your video and maybe not the whole video.  To create a great time lapse sequence you want lots of movement: clouds, transport and people. Moving the camera during the capture period adds another level of visual interest.  This can be done using a slider or panning head. We use the excellent Syrp Genie. This can perform both of these movements easily.

I occasionally use a neutral density filter to cut down the exposure.  I can then use very slow shutter speeds to blur the crowds. I shoot RAW files and produce 4K videos.

So now you know how to film great time lapse videos in London!

Please visit our CREATIVE TIME LAPSE page featuring loads of information about manned time lapse options