“A Taste of Los Angeles” (behind the scenes)
If you are reading this, we‘ve probably (finally!) released the next episode of our “A Taste of…” time lapse series. Exciting!
Beside our commercial work, we love to tackle new personal projects at least once a year. That’s how “A Taste of…” started 7 years ago. Here is a quick recap:
- A Taste of Austria (2013). Started as a student project, ended up as a film production company.
- A Taste of Vienna (2015). This happened.
- A Taste of New York (2017). Went through the roof! Earned us gigs on Netflix and Audi productions.
Our goal was to take you on a fast-paced journey through some of the most iconic locations in Los Angeles and leave you in awe.
FACTS & FIGURES
Behind the project were four FilmSpektakel members. Lorenz Pritz, Maximilian Lang and Peter Jablonowski travelled to LA for 13 days in February 2019. We shot 155,568 photos, which needed 5.3 terabytes of data on our HDDs. The edit was done by team member four, Thomas Pöcksteiner, who had the absolute pleasure of spending 64 days in front of his workstation doing his magic in LRTimelapse, Adobe Lightroom and Adobe After Effects.
The photos were compiled into 439 individual time lapse clips. If you compare the number of production days and the output of data, you will realise that there was almost no time for sleep. That’s why every minute of free time had to be used wisely:
Our preproduction is quite unusual, because we don’t write a detailed script. While there is a lot of research done before we step on the plane, we create the story on the go. Most of the work goes into finding locations and determining vantage points, so we don’t lose valuable time on-site.
Pro Tip: We use AirBnB for accommodation, because in a hotel you never know what view you’ll get. We booked three apartments with the best views of the city we could find.
You might think that time lapse photography is a rather boring endeavour, but that is not always true. Here’s a story that happened during the production of “A Taste of Los Angeles”:
A TASTE OF A TYPICAL PRODUCTION DAY
The sun had already set behind the hills of LA when Lorenz turned off his camera. He had spent the whole day by himself and met exactly one cyclist in his spot close to Dante’s View. As he packed up his gear, he thought about the long walk back to the parking spot. Suddenly, high-pitched howls crawled under his skin. As they got closer, he realised that he was not alone.
Apparently, the hill was home to coyotes.
Scared shitless Unrattled by these unfamiliar calls, he turned on his headlamp and headed back to the car. And that’s when two glowing dots appeared on his path. Two dots suddenly became four, and looking further up the hill, he counted at least ten more.
Unsure how to react, he instinctively stopped to extend his aluminium tripod. Just in case. Luckily (for them!), the stare-down ended with the coyotes retreating into the darkness. Fuelled by adrenaline and the howling in the dark, Lorenz hiked the remaining 3 km back in record time.
LA made quite the impression on us during this jam-packed production. The longest days of the trip started two hours before sunrise and were done an hour after midnight. Travelling as a group of three photographers allowed us to take turns for certain tasks such as backing up footage (and sleeping). Five locations on one day is the maximum we accomplished in Los Angeles, as moving from one location to another usually required a lot of driving. And you’ve probably heard about the traffic in LA.
A successful day meant driving an average of 100 km (62 miles), capturing 42 time lapse clips, producing about 800 GB worth of photos and catching sunburn.
When you are on a personal project with limited financial resources, you can’t bring a ton of equipment. Having three people on the production team doesn’t exactly help, but at least we could bring three bags full of camera gear.
In terms of equipment we used the following:
- two Sony A7R III bodies
- a Sony A7RII
- a Sony a6300
- a Canon 6D (with Magic Lantern)
For the hyperlapse sequences we used the following:
- a DJI Ronin-S Gimbal (it makes our lives so much easier!)
In total we took 8 lenses:
- Sony 10-18 mm
- Laowa 10-18 mm
- 2x Canon 24-105 mm
- Sony 12-24 mm
- Canon 17 mm TiltShift
- Sony 24-70 mm
- Tamron 150-600 mm
Needless to say, a weight limit of 23 kg per bag on the plane left us with very little space for clothes and personal stuff. But that’s not all! Of course, we also had to bring a bunch of tripods, motion-control equipment, intervalometers… and three smartphones 🙂
FOOTAGE & EDITING PROCESS
The basic workflow for an “A Taste of…” episode is straightforward.
1) Sorting and colour correction
We begin by sorting everything we shot with the help of our favourite software: LRTimelapse. If you haven’t heard of it, here’s one piece of advice: if you are into time lapse, go and get it. It is the best out there by far and helps you do all sorts of things.
After we have sorted the frames into different folders, we start grading and deflickering the sequences with LRTimelapse and Adobe Lightroom to export them as a JPEG sequence. Of course, we export them in full resolution, so we have as much information for post-production as possible.
2) Editing in Adobe After Effects
In the next step, we import the sequence into Adobe After Effects and apply all the individual steps the sequence requires to look decent. Stabilising, removing dirt or birds, more deflickering. Afterwards, we render the sequence into a preview file.
What I like to do before I start editing a video project is create a timeline of all the footage to look at the whole range of clips. This helps me to get an impression of what is possible and to gather ideas of what scenes I will edit together. I use Adobe Premiere for that.
We then follow a rather unconventional path by editing the entire thing in Adobe After Effects, which is not an editing program, but a piece of software for creating advanced post-production effects like motion graphics or animations. It has horrible capabilities in terms of audio editing, which is fine because it is not designed for that (and we don’t use any audio to edit to). All the sound design comes afterwards. When we start editing, we look at camera movements, landmarks, colours and perspectives that match, so we can connect the scenes.
Fun fact: if we’d included every frame we shot for “A Taste of Los Angeles”, it would have been 1hr 43min long.
A time lapse film is nothing without a great soundtrack. So, the edit is complemented by the sound design made by our dear friend Alex Clement.
Read all about his process here:
As you can see, producing an episode of “A Taste of…” is quite an effort. It would mean the world to us if you watch it and share it with your friends and family. We would also love to hear your thoughts on this episode.
For more information about FilmSpektakel please visit filmspektakel.com or contact us via email@example.com