"Time Lapse Art Made Easy (How to Film Yourself Painting)"
We've all seen those neat videos on Youtube or Instagram, where an artist is rapidly painting, and you can see an entire painting come to life in a matter of minutes. Each brushstroke looks fully intentional, the artist's hand zooming around the canvas, laying down the perfect colours.
Pretty cool, right?
I'll let you in on a little secret - it's also easy.
Thanks to the wonders of technology, filming yourself while painting is now easier than ever. Let me show you how!
The basic tools that you will need are: a camera, a stabilizer, and editing software.
Fortunately these tools are very flexible and there are options for every budget!
Sure, you could spend thousands of dollars on an amazing camera, but thanks to the wonders of modern technology most of us have great little cameras built into our phones! The quality definitely isn't on par with a $1000+ DSLR camera, but its definitely sufficient for getting started!
I use my Canon Rebel T5i for shooting time lapse videos of me painting because I'm fortunate enough to own a DSLR, however I started off with using my Smartphone.
A stabilizer is something that will keep your camera completely still while filming - it can be as complex as a $300+ tripod or as simple as propping your camera or smartphone up on some books.
This is super flexible as well - if you are filming with your Smartphone, you may not even need editing software if you use the Hyperlapse function. Otherwise there are great apps that allow you to snip and clip pieces together, like iMovie.
If you are filming with a digital camera or DSLR, you will need some software in order to speed the video up and cut out any "blank" spots. Windows Movie Maker is a great free option for Windows, and iMovie for Mac. For more advanced users who are willing to invest in great software, I highly recommend Adobe Premiere, and I hear Final Cut Pro for Mac is fantastic as well.
1. Setting up your workstation
a. Using your stabilizer, set up your camera behind you to capture your canvas. I recommend offsetting it slightly, positioning it to an angle so that you are not blocking the view of the camera. If you are working on a table top, position your stabilizer so the camera can point downwards onto your work surface (a stack of books in front of you with a smartphone laying on the edge is a free and easy method to capture this style!).
b. Take a moment to think about your lighting. View your canvas through the lens, is the scene bright enough? Will your hand cast a strong shadow while you are painting? Will any light sources bounce off the wet paint and create a glare?
I like to illuminate my art from opposite sides of the canvas with lamps that simulate natural light - this helps to reduce shadows from the texture of the canvas, reduces shadows from my hand, and displays the most accurate colours.
2. Press record and start painting!
a. You may have to run a charging cable to your phone while it's recording, and be aware of how much digital space you have left on your device.
b. Most smartphones now give you the option of filming a hyperlapse, which is video that is taken over a period of time and is compressed down to a few seconds or minutes, speeding it up. If you use this option you won't have to worry about editing later on.
c. If using a digital camera or DSLR, film in real-time and edit later.
d. Remember to take a peek now and then to ensure that the camera is still recording - I have lost so much footage in the past because my memory card was full or the battery died.
a. Now that your painting has been completed, its time to import those clips and edit them!
Filming on your phone is a breeze because you either don't need to edit further if using the hyperlapse function, or can import it into the iMovie app to make a few adjustments. Easy peasy!
For camera use, import the files by popping the SD card into your computer and importing the files into your editing software of choice. If your painting was rather lengthy then you will likely have multiple files, simply drag each of them into the timeline and edit the speed in order to create your time lapse.
4. Want to spice things up a bit? Here are a few tips to keep your videos fresh and exciting!
Change the crop or view of your video every 5-10 seconds to keep viewers engaged
Want to add music to your video? Youtube has an incredible database of free music that can be used commercially.
Change the settings on your camera so that it does not focus automatically - otherwise the camera will focus on your hand each time it comes into scene which will throw off the details of the painting in the video