Tips from a Pro: iPhone Stop Motion + Timelapse

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By JOBY Inc on

This month on the JOBY Blog, we’re all about iPhoneography. We think phonography is totally rad—three cheers for creative expression on the go! Plus, nothing beats a lightweight and decent camera that you always have with you.  We put our heads together with some other phone photography experts to bring you tips and tricks, awesome apps, video tutorials, and maybe even a contest or two. Stay tuned!

Cinematographer/Photographer Zach Settewongse is the creative mind behind COLORFULgrey, a video production company that specializes in commercials for television and web. His motto is “Live life, capture it”, which is something that JOBY can definitely get behind. A big fan of the GorillaPod for both personal and commercial work, Zach was also the winner of  JOBY’s Stop Motion Addict Contest from 2010. We’ve asked him to share his insights on creating stop motion and timelapse videos using the iPhone.

First, here is Zach’s award-winning stop motion video.

JOBY Frame X Frame contest: Zach Settewongse from COLORFULgrey Zach Settewongse on Vimeo.

Hi Zach, can you share a bit of what’s behind your stop motion video?

The video looks simple enough, but actually it took a lot more work than I originally thought. There was a ton of planning and staging of props. I started planning at 10am and finished at midnight. First, I looked at all my stuff lying around for ideas. Then I sketched out the sequence. Next I mounted the iPhone to the ceiling of my garage by the attic hatch so I could still see the screen with my head in the attic. Once I started the time lapse, I realized couldn’t do it alone. So I recruited my wife to help me and I started again. All the clothing and items were pre-staged just out of frame so I could get to them fast. Then I edited the video in Adobe Premier adding titles and sounds. Sorry for the cheesy music, I wanted to make sure I used open source (non-copyrighted) midi files.

What is your advice for folks who are interested in creating a stop motion video?

1.  Draw up a story board. Advance planning helps make your video seamless.
2. Secure your iPhone using a GorillaPod and take test photos to find the edge of the photo area. (You want to make sure the camera doesn’t shift during filming because that will ruin the stop motion effect).
3. Stage all of your props just outside of the photo area.
4. Set the camera to thirty second intervals in JOBY’s Frame X Frame App or recruit a friend to trigger the shutter.
5.  Editing! I used Adobe Premier to edit my video, but my best advice would be to keep your videos short—about 90 seconds or so.

JOBY Note:  If you’re planning to devote some serious time to your stop motion video, we also recommend you put your phone in airplane mode (Settings > Airplane Mode) and connect your phone to a power source. 

Another JOBY Note: Check out Photojojo’s Ultimate Guide to Timelapse Photography for a super detailed explanation of this whole process from set up through editing. 

 You’ve also used your phone to make timelapse videos.  Tell us a bit about that. 

LA to Reno from COLORFULgrey Zach Settewongse on Vimeo.

I love to break the rules and a camera phone is a great friend in mischief. For a while I was on a timelapse kick with my iPhone. I would create timelapse videos using JOBY’s Frame-X-Frame app while flying. Before I took off, I would start the app and place the phone in the plane’s window facing out, start recording, then shut the shade so the flight attendant could not see it. At the end of the flight you end up with a cool timelapse of your journey. Just don’t forget your phone in the window! I know, I know you’re not supposed to have your phone on during takeoff and landing. So here’s where I’ll say, “I’m positive JOBY, Inc does not approve of breaking FIA rules.”  But, I don’t work for Joby, I just love their products and I never had a problem.

What other ways do you use phone photography? 

My phone is my publicist! What do I mean? Well, I always take a photo of myself taking video/photos on location and using my sponsors’ products. Not only do my friends enjoy seeing what I’m currently working on, but my clients do as well.  It only takes a second to ask someone to snap a quick camera phone pic of you working or snap a self-portait using a timer and a GorillaPod. I usually post these photos to Facebook or my blog. Photos help me to create a more personal relationship with my clients and I have found that every one of my clients like seeing their company’s name in post. For me social media marketing is where the majority of my leads come from and camera phone photography is a big part of that.

Thanks Zach!
To view more of Zach’s portfolio, please visit COLORFULgrey or follow him on Facebook.  


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