Time-Warp Saigon with the DJI Osmo – Plus Behind-the-Scenes Of Shooting Hyperlapse

by planetMitch1 Comment

Rufus Blackwell sent in this awesome hyperlapse timelapse video of Saigon that he shot with the DJI Osmo (from DJI Store) (buy at B&H).

So I twisted his arm and he gave us some additional exclusive behind the scenes info on how he shot it!

From Rufus Blackwell:

I was commissioned by the DJI camera company to show off the amazing capabilities of their new camera, the DJI Osmo. Luckily I live in Saigon one of the best locations in the World for time-lapse photography. So I have spent the last two months shooting all over town capturing some amazing footage.

The OSMO is a hand held gimble camera that keeps the shot amazing steady even if you are shooting hand held. Because the camera is so steady you can create hyper lapse sequences form shooting video. A completely new way of creating a moving timelapse. This allows you so much lattitude in post you can warp time. This was a highly experimental shoot, I was amazed by the results.

The behind-the-scenes comes after the video…

DJI Osmo – Saigon Hyperlapse

Time-Warp Saigon with the DJI Osmo Behind the Scenes

As a professional time-lapse photographer I was intrigued by the possibilities that the Osmo presented. I have spent many years shooting with a DSLR and a tripod. I have some very advanced techniques for shooting very techy sequences but the Osmo opened up some really interesting new avenues for capturing moving time-lapse.

So I was extremely happy when DJI commissioned me to shoot a city time-lapse with the Osmo. They gave me a very open brief, just shoot something cool. So I went about testing it. The gimble is amazing it really does lock off the shot. it is incredible to see how steady the images are in post.

Most hyperlapse movies I have seen shot on the Osmo were shot in timelapse mode, as in shooting a still frame every second as you walk along. I am obsessed with getting the correct motion blur in my shots. Almost every image I shoot has what is called a 180 degree shutter. That is that the exposure time should be half the interval time.

So if you are shooting an image every 4 seconds the exposure should be 2 seconds. So to get this effect I decided to shoot in video mode. I was shooting at 30fps at 4k. The 4k image is beautiful, really crisp and clear and you can really get great colours out of it. So if you now want it to look like you shot an image every 4 seconds, you have to take 2 seconds of video and blend the frames to form a single exposure.

So your time warping process involves you frame blending 2 second chunks to make up each frame of the timelapse sequence. If done correctly you end up with perfectly motion blurred images. They beauty of this technique is that you have the ability to bring it back to realtime and even to slow it down more if you use motion estimation software such as twixtor. You can shoot a motion timelapse and warp time.

So that is the tech breakdown of how to process it, you need software that has extremely detailed control of timewarp techniques. I use Autodesk Smoke for all my projects.

To shoot with the Osmo great fun. You can just lock the camera off at the angle you want by pressing the trigger on the Osmo and walk in a straight line to get an amazing hyper lapse. One problem I found was that on some shots it is hard to get rid of the up and down movement of the person holding the camera.

If you walk carefully you can reduce it, but I wanted it gone completely. Also if you are shooting sequence for 20mins, your arm can get pretty tired. The way I overcame that was to attach the camera to my bicycle. If I was shooting a long sequence I would attach it to the cross bar set the Osmo to lock off at the correct angle and push my bike along at an even speed. I found this a great way to get the smooth shots I was looking for.

This camera really is a game changer. My 5D mk3 will be gathering a lot more dust now. You can just capture such great images with this piece of kit. I think the best examples are the first and last shots in the video, they were shot in a rickety old boat, with a lot of engine vibration, bobbing along the Saigon river, and yet the final images with no post processing are totally locked off. I was amazed when I saw it.

About Rufus Blackwell
Rufus is a time-lapse photographer, VFX Artist and adventure film maker. Combining these skills he has spent the last 8 years developing a number of techniques that allow him to shoot and finish his work in a totally unique style.

Rufus was trained at Rushes Post Production, one of London’s leading VFX houses. He then moved to Malaysia working for a boutique VFX house in Kuala Lumpur. While in Malaysia he realised the potential for Digital Time-Lapse Photography and began combining it with his VFX skills.

Rufus specialises in travelling the world to remote locations capturing spectacular and rarely seen images. He won the 2014 Travel Photographer of the Year, video category with this piece he shot at the Kumbh Mela Festival in India:

He has shot for Getty Images and National Geographic, and has racked up shoots all over the world. He continues to push the boundaries of what is possible with digital imagery.

His website is: TimeLapseVFX.com

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)


  1. How do you take 2 seconds of video and blend the frames to form a single exposure.

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