How did you get that shot? … the one where time gets sped up? 

 February 14, 2013

By  Pascal Depuhl

When Bayliner was revolutionizing the boating market, they hired me to help them tell their story about how they listened to what people wanted in a boat, when they created the brand new Bayliner Element. I was tasked with creating a short corporate documentary film that walks the viewer through the process from the initial conception of their idea, through brainstorming new ways of addressing the issues Bayliner heard their customers look for, engineering and designing a patented new hull and deck to the manufacturing process of the Element.

Filming this project over a period of several months in their Research and Development plant, where interviews got combined with recording parts of the production process, where some of the tasks take hours or days, way more time than a short piece allows us to show – so how do I squeeze in the few hours it takes to Gelcoat the mold for the hull? Or how can I show the joining of the deck to the hull?

GoPro Camera clicking away for a second time lapse angle.
GoPro Camera clicking away for a second time-lapse angle.

The simple answer? Time-lapse. According to WikipediaTime-lapse photography is a technique whereby the frequency at which film frames are captured is much lower than that used to view the sequence.” In other words in slowing down the number of pictures you photograph, you shorten the length of time it takes to view.

[Here’s some math – in case your interested, if you’re not, it’s totally safe to skin this part. A regular movie plays at 24 frames per second (30 for video, but let’s stick with one number for now), which means that if I show you 1 second of motion, you actually see 24 frames, but it appears to be a continuous action. If however I take a picture once every hour and play it back at 24 fps (frames per second) you just watched a whole day in one second. Got it? Ok back to speeding up time.]

GoPro birdseye view from paint boom
GoPro birdseye view from paint boom

Let’s take a look at the gel coating. In this process, a giant router has cut out a huge block of styrofoam to the exact specs of the hull. Expert Craftsmen coat this with a clay-like substance, that gets sanded down to perfection. This “plug” gets spray-coated with special gels and paint to create the mold that all boats are made in. Since this part of the process happens only one time in the life of the boat, it’s important and interesting to document.  So I captured it with 4 cameras: a Canon 5D MK II for video, a Canon 5D for time-lapse, a GoPro shooting video, and a GoPro shooting another time-lapse.

5D Time Lapse
Clamped to the wall the 5D is shooting a frame through the window every few seconds.

Since I did not know what we were going to use in the final film, it’s nice to have options. I’m not going to go into all the planning portions of this time-lapse – you can read how to plan for a commercial time-lapse project if you want more details. There are also some excellent tutorials on time-lapse photography, check out Philip Bloom’s post for instance, so I’m not going to go into the technique here.

Time-lapse absolutely has a place in corporate videos, especially if you combine multiple camera angles and include video into your motion piece to hold the viewer’s attention. Take a look …

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Pascal Depuhl

Miami product photographer, video producer, cinematographer and chief mindchanger at Photography by Depuhl I love to share the knowledge I've gained over the past two decades. Catching light in motion.