You might be surprised learning that the video below depicts a real city and not some miniatures. It is in fact a tilt-shift video, an editing process giving a miniature (or “Lego”) effect to real sceneries.

We talked last time about flickering and how to avoid them in your time lapses. Now it’s time to go deeper into what can be done through time lapse with the tilt-shift.

What exactly is a tilt-shift?

First, let’s talk about how tilt-shift was born.

It was initially aimed to shot large buildings with process cameras using a tilt-shift lens (the word “tilt-shift” basically derives from these lenses). Indeed, it was perfect to avoid perspective deformations.

Nowadays, the tilt-shift is widely known as an aesthetic way of shooting pictures or videos of a landscape. Technically, it is a blur applied to specific areas of an image/video. The good part of it is that it is now pretty easy to make its own tilt-shift time lapses!

How does tilt shift works?

Most of the tilt-shift videos are combined to time lapse. You can find a lot of them, showing big cities all around the world : Singapore, Toronto, Chicago, Melbourne. They are all becoming miniature models for the time of a picture… Sometimes it is a whole country turning into a legos scenery, such as Albania. The trickiest part of these videos is to get the right field of view. It is indeed compulsory to have a top view of what you want to shoot !

Then, it is easy to turn your regular video into a tilt-shift thanks to video editing software, such as Adobe Premiere, Final Cut, Adobe After Effect or even Photoshop!

More than that, specific lenses (we talked about it above) called tilt-shift lenses makes tilt-shift easier to shoot. They are sadly dedicated to professionals (like architects) due to their price.

How to make a tilt-shift video ?

Here are some tips to prepare your shooting of photos that you will use to realize the tilt-shift timelapse video.

  1. Photos has to be far enough from the target;
  2. Not too much deep of field, otherwise it will be necessary to crop the photos;
  3. If possible, photos should be taken from above to get a bird’s eye view;
  4. The environment has to be consistent, without significant contrast.

Then there are two solutions:

  1. Applying the tilt-shift effect on each photo of your timelapse using photo editing software (Photoshop for example). This can quickly become tedious.
  2. Or giving a tilt-shift effect to your pre-edited timelapse movie, using video editing tools (After Effects for example).
    A little tip when your are editing your video: improve contrast and saturation (to make colors more vivid),that will enhance the “mock-up” effect – as they are often very bright and colored.

Willing to go further ?

Rob & Jonas’ Filmmaking Tips have made an interesting and complete video dealing with tilt-shift. Full of advices and example, it is a must-see!

Cover picture: LittleBigWorld