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.
Any questions or comments? Let me know below!
– Emeric’s Timelapse