Vivid Sydney 2013 Timelapse

Vivid Sydney 2013 Timelapse

by Lee Duguid, July 15, 2013
LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY | timelapse | Vivid Sydney 2013 Timelapse

Thought I should finally post my Vivid Sydney 2013 timelapse on my blog. I actually posted this on my Facebook page a few weeks back and was thrilled to see all the Likes, Comments and Shares. The Vivid Sydney 2013 timelapse was shot over a couple of nights, well mostly one, the other night was a mixture of business and leisure. It’s the post processing that takes the time. For one I had to learn Finalcut Pro X as I’ve not been overly please with the quality coming out of iMovie. Anyway there’s a breakdown of what was involved below.


For the most part the action was captured with a shot every 2 seconds using an intervalometer. For the faster moving sequences an image was capture every 1 second so when played back the action would appear slower than those shot every 2 seconds.

In both cases I would ‘drag’ the shutter (extend the shutter speed) for as along as possible whilst allowing enough time for the image to be written to the card before the next shot was taken. This would blur motion and reduce the likelihood of blips where something fast moving such as a bird would momentarily appear in one frame and not the next. It would also give subject moving slightly slower a feeling of motion as they blur through the scene.

The camera was set to Manual mode, aperture wide open (F4) to reduce aperture flicker in the final sequence, White Balance fixed (manually set using White Balance from previous shot where camera was set on Auto White Balance), and manual focus carefully selected using live view to capture the action.


I processed 2000 jpegs in Adobe Camera RAW tweaking Exposure, Shadows, Highlights, Contrast, Saturation and switching on Lens Correction (but not vignette removal). The 2000 stills were split into 44 individual scenes so I could adjust each separately. Each scene had slightly different capture settings and of course the exposure wasn’t always spot on so they each had to be adjusted individually.

The stills where imported into Final Cut Pro X and grouped by scene using Compound Clips. Scenes where spread across the timeline to give the timelapse some form of story and meaning. The composite clip lengths where then trimmed or stretched (Retimed) for the most part to fit with the beat of the music. A Ken Burns effect was applied to some scenes for a bit of added interest.

I hope you enjoyed my effort, please leave questions below or share this with your friends.

Music by Dextor Britain:

Write a comment

Comment from Wilfried
Time: March 6, 2014, 11:19 pm

Super timelapse work Lee.
Beautiful takes of the superb lightshow and love the backing track.
I’m aghast at the amount of work needed to put this together. Hope you get to do one in Paris. France was one of the earliest countries where artists did sound and light shows. viz. Jean Michel Jarre ~ 70’s

Comment from Lee Duguid
Time: March 9, 2014, 2:33 am

Thanks Wilfried, yes they are a lot of work but well worth the effort. I would love to do one of Paris, maybe in the summer. I hope you are well. Cheers

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