Editing out the night?
March 9, 2011 7:17 PM   Subscribe

How does time lapse video where night doesn't exist work?

Just wondering how time lapse videos, like the ones in Planet Earth work? I'm talking about the ones where months go by and everything changes, but the video never captures night? Do they just cut out the portion of the footage that occurs at night?
posted by grak88 to Technology (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Do they just cut out the portion of the footage that occurs at night?

posted by The World Famous at 7:21 PM on March 9, 2011 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Alternately, some shots are actually done in a studio. I remember watching an incredible timelapse of a bluebell forest floor slowly growing then springing into bloom under the shadow of an oak tree. The entire thing was filmed in a studio over months, with lights to emulate the sun.

In general, there is less studio work in nature documentaries now than there used to be, simply because camera technology means we can shot good footage in places it where it was formerly impossible. Nonetheless, you might be surprised where some of your favourite sequences were filmed.
posted by smoke at 7:42 PM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Years ago, the BBC made a documentary about nature documentaries. As smoke describes, an amazingly high proportion of "outside" scenes were actually set up and shot in studios. Examples given were some flowers growing in a field (I wonder if smoke and I are thinking of the same clip?) and lilly pads growing in a lake, both of which looked completely natural but, when zoomed out, were actually set up in a warehouse somewhere. This way they get to control the light, rainfall, wildlife, etc. So they can either just keep the lights on 24/7 (moving them as necessary) or, during the night, just switch the lights on for the intervals of a few seconds necessary to take each photograph. It also gives them control over light intensity and colour, "rainfall" and wildlife, as well as making sure no errant hikers tread on their subjects just before they finish a 50-day shoot.

The same programme also talked about building artificial ant and termite nests, as well as a clever artificial mole tunnel that allowed them to easily film the mole running around and digging underground.
posted by metaBugs at 1:43 AM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

metaBugs - Yes! It was called Hot Shots. Sadly, it's all but impossible to find online in a legal sense, overwhelmed by things about the film. I did find a torrent, but can't link to it here.
posted by smoke at 2:23 AM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

if the video spans months, then they could just take a small number of frames or a few minutes of video at the same time each day and still end up with plenty of footage, the sun would still move because of the seasons, but the light would be close to the same.
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 6:46 AM on March 10, 2011

Depending on how the time lapse is set up, they may never take any footage at night. If the camera is set up to take a picture every day at 11AM, for example, there's never going to be any night shots.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:59 PM on March 12, 2011

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