vc033: Variable Hand Jive Time Lapse

The Variable Hand Jive is primarily an experiment in variable time lapse. It uses playback speeds from 100% to 800%. This video is #33 of my #100videoclips project.

The Inspiration

My colleague at Berklee, Zebbler, is currently teaching the class in Music Video Production that I developed on the Berklee Valencia campus. He is trying out a new technique that he calls variable speed time lapse, an example of which is below.

His video uses a newly-developed method that he will be revealing in the coming weeks. However, I wanted to try something similar just using speed variations in Premiere Pro, so my “Hand Jive” is what I put together.

What I Did

  1. I set up the camera on a short tripod on my desk so it was focused on my hands with a shallow depth of field.
    1. The background is my computer screen with a screen saver running.
  2. I created a simple 120-bpm drum track in Garage Band, and played it in a loop.
  3. I danced my hands around in front of the camera.
  4. In Premiere Pro, I divided sections of the track right on the beat, and sped up some of those sections to 200%, 400%, or 800%.
  5. I added a second track underneath the first just playing at normal speed, and added the Divide blend mode to the upper tracks.
    1. The first clip, which is in synch with the clip beneath it, uses the Exclusion blend mode. The second clip, also in synch, switches to Divide, then Divide is use on the remainder of the clips.

What I Learned

I think the time-lapse effect was kind of interesting and very easy to pull off, especially the way I did it.

It is a very mild form of time lapse, which is basically just playing a film back at a higher rate than the rate at which it was captured. However, often time lapse involves taking shots at a much lower rate (one frame every second, every five seconds, or even much longer, depending on the circumstance) and playing them back at a normal rate (24-30 frames per second).

After I finished my little film, I learned that the effect Zebbler was going for, or at least the inspiration for the effect that he was teaching, was more like this one:

This time lapse would require something a bit different (and a bit more involved):

  • Create a track and slow it to half speed.
  • Develop choreography that will look “normal” at normal speed.
  • Dance the choreography at 50% of the normal speed while the half-speed track is playing.
    • While it would look interesting in isolation, the effect is greatly enhanced in a public setting where everything else is moving at normal speed.
  • In the example above, do the same choreography at the same distance from the camera in a variety of settings.
  • In post production, speed the dancing footage up 2x to normal speed and synch it to a normal-speed sound track.

I love the variety of shots in the video above, particularly the subway shots. (No one is paying her any attention — there or anywhere. A German thing?)

Below is another example where it looks like the dancing is more free-form, so you wouldn’t have the difficulty of coordinating the shots that you have in the video above. Also, there is at least one person who admits to noticing what is going on. :)

It seems he is moving more at normal speed, but the start/stop style of the dancing is enhanced when sped up.

Do you have any interesting examples of this technique?