How To Do A Tilt-Shift Timelapse With A Regular Lens

The tilt-shift effect, also called “Miniature World” effect, is amazing and very fun to play with. The best way to create a tilt-shift effect is to use what we call a tilt-shift lens, a lens that you can tilt and shift in order to remove distortions on the sides of your images and get a bigger control on the depth of field. But they are very expensive… and there is actually an easy way to create a fake tilt-shift effect using some photography tricks and a regular lens.

Imagine you are a photographing a miniature world right in front of you. You will be looking down at a 30 to 50 degree angle, will focus on your subject, some teeny tiny toys down below, and everything else around it will be blurry, including your foreground and background.

The tilt-shift effect will recreate this tiny world effect but using real life footage. In this article, I will share with you my experience on how to shoot this effect without using a tilt-shift lens (because yes, they are very expensive and usually useful for architectural photography only).

You are a bit limited when faking a tilt-shift, but they are some tricks you can use to make it look like a real one, one that you would shoot with a real tilt-shift lens.

1 – Get the right angle

When shooting your timelapse, think that the world in front of you is a miniature world at HO scale for example. If you are standing up, good chance, you will be looking down at a 30 to 50 degree angle on your subject. Try to find an elevated area around your subject in order to recreate this angle. That will make the tilt-shift effect more realistic.

2 – Select a very fast interval

In a miniature world, the toys usually move slightly faster than what a real human or vehicle would (compared to their actual size). This is why it’s very important to select a fast interval when shooting your tilt-shift timelapse. You want to be as close as possible from the reality, just a tiny bit faster.

I would say, you can even shoot a video and speed that up in post 2 or 3 times for a good result. If you don’t want to shoot a video and would like to stick with raw images, use a 0,5” interval ideally (1” can work as well depending on how fast your subject is moving). You can do so by shooting with the LRTimelapse Pro Timer 3 for example.

Watch this video, How to Create a 0,5” interval Timelapse for more details.

Once you found the right angle along with the perfect interval, shoot the timelapse (at least 300 frames) or record a 5 min video that you can speed up in post-production, both will work great.

3 – Create the Tilt-Shift Effect with After Effects

Once you are done, you need to create the tilt-shift effect using After Effects. The goal here is to create a blurry foreground and background, exactly like if you were shooting a miniature world.

Here is an easy-to-follow in-depth tutorial on how to create this Tilt-shift effect on After Effects.

Don’t forget to accentuate the contrast, vibrance and saturation on your clip, that will make the miniature effect even closer from a real toy world, where colors are very vibrante and saturated.

This tutorial is part of my Timelapse Master Class 2019. Check it out for more awesome timelapse and hyperlapse online classes!

Any questions or comments? Let me know below!

– Emeric’s Timelapse

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