Transport for London: Timelapse

First of all, it's timelapse, not time-lapse or time lapse. I don't care about your opinion of this matter. And with that, I can move on.

So I had decided a while ago that although my previous timelapses (this one, this one, this one, and more recently this one) were interesting, I would like to make something to showcase London, which is, in my opinion (which, let's face it, is the only one that matters here), the greatest city on Earth.

I wanted to do something that showcased what an _awesome _(in the literal sense of the word) city London really is. I originally intended to concentrate just on the tube, but after reading pages and pages and discussions and discussions and discussions and discussions and posts and worrying, I eventually realized that was not going to be entirely possible, so I shifted from just the Tube to Transport in London in general, knowing that there would be more opportunity for footage.

I'd abide by the official rules, no tripods or flash, and go and set up anyway. If I was stopped then meh, I'd move onto the next station, and if not well that's fine then. Another rule that I felt abliged to follow (although in reality is completely useless) was the rule that you're "not allowed to take photos in stations if you spend more than 15 minutes there". This was basically their definition of the difference between taking photos as you pass through, like so many tourists do; and setting out to a station to take photos, not ride the tube.

Another thing I had to plan beforehand was the music. This was basically a no-brainer, because the music had to be CC-licenced, yet also be awesome. I came across this track while watching this video, and after searching around a bit I found out he was happy to let me use his music. It also had a certain flow to it that I couldn't find anywhere else, so that was that.

I then went about planning my shots. Here's an early previs of what I thought it was going to turn out like, but in the end I ended up editing what I had, then planning in my head what footage I needed to fill the gaps in the song.

And so with that, I went out to get my footage. I went to Piccadilly Circus (the place and the Tube Station), the Mall, Hammersmith, Windsor, Earl's Court, Trafalgar Square and Turnham Green station, over the course of about a month, in around 5 trips. At the end of each trip I'd bring back the footage, process it with Media Encoder CS5, put it into Premiere CS5.5, match up the footage to the appropriate part of the film, wrote down the length of the gaps and what kind of subject would fit that part in the music, and go out again.

During my last shoot, which was (funilly enough) the last shots of the film (traffic at night around the Hammersmith Flyover), a construction van pulled up to just behind where I was filming. Two guys got out and went over to the part of the flyover that had roadworks on it, and I assumed they were just checking that everything was in order. A few minutes later I turn round to see them both watching me. They were slightly perplexed as to what the hell I was doing with an expensive camera on a tripod in the cold and dark by myself. I turned round and pretended to ignore them. But a few seconds later one of them was standing next to me and asked me what I was doing. It wasn't an accusatory "What are you doing?", it was "Watcha doo-ing?" kinda thing. I explained to him how timelapse works, and he seemed to catch on fairly quickly. A few minutes later he and his friend had jumped into their van and gone speeding off.

Similarly at Piccadilly Circus, a few young Germans came up to me and complemented me on my gear - it was the 600D with 20-40mm, a VideoMic and an LCDVF, all on a tripod. They themselves both had 5D mkIIs and I was slightly miffed. They already knew what timelapse was. I should keep business cards on me more often for this kind of stuff.

While standing in the cold/rain/wind(/sun?!), the only thing I could really do was play with my phone, and to that effect I did what I like doing most with my phone - taking photos. Here's a slideshow of all the photos I took while standing around. My favourite is a photo of a Star Wars battle that unfolded next to me during the first shot of Piccadilly Circus.

[fsg_gallery id="2"]

Oh, and after all of that, I guess you want to watch the end product. Here it is.

Interesting fact before you watch: the first shot was actually a mistake - I had Gorillapodded my very back-heavy DSLR to a railing that was very close to some glass (hence the crap on the lens in those shots in Earl's Court), and started the timelapse, only to realize a minute later that my camera was pointed at the ceiling. This resulted in a rather interesting (and slow) camera move that I thought started the video well.

I'll shut up now.

Oh, and one last thing. If you're wondering what the hell was happening in Trafalgar Square, it was a live re-enactment of the crucifixion, because it was Good Friday, or something. And that's a CCTV camera you can see spinning in the top left hand corner. And the London Eye spun backwards for a bit, nothing wrong with _my _footage.

{% vimeo 41702388 %}

Transport for London from Alex Forey on Vimeo.

What do you think?


Oh, and one last thing. There is a reason there's a wait before the video begins. Two, actually. First being that players like Vimeo and YouTube generally have some sort of overlay, I want the user to be able to have already gotten rid of it before the content starts, and secondly that I want you to be really focused on the screen before the video starts, because it helps you pick up the sense of rhythm faster (I think).