What is the Bondi-to-Manly?
The Bondi-to-Manly is a new 80km coastal walk that links two of Australia’s favourite beaches and takes in Sydney’s iconic landmarks. About 60km of it is on public land, with the rest on suburban footpaths.
Finding your way is easy – cross two bridges and keep the ocean on your right and you should eventually make it to Manly. You can pack a lunch or eat at any of the fine cafes and restaurants along the way. And be sure to wear sunscreen.
What is a hyperlapse?
A hyperlapse is a timelapse but with the added element of motion.
OK, so what is a timelapse?
Timelapse is a photographic technique by which the capture rate of a sequence of frames is much slower than the speed in which they are played back. Basically, you’re manipulating time to show – in only a few seconds – events that may take several minutes, days or even weeks.
Adding movement to the camera is the next step in the process, turning a stationary timelapse into the aforementioned hyperlapse. Now we are not only speeding up time, we’re also changing the point of view. This makes for a more dynamic and interesting shot.
Got it. How did you make this … hyperlapse?
The hyperlapse is part of a larger project that profiles the Bondi-to-Manly hike and it was created out of necessity. Because I was filming the entire 80km in a single shot as a piece of interactive slow TV, I wouldn’t be able to stop and set up nice-looking shots to make a promo video.
The answer to the problem of not being about to stop lay at the bleeding edge of (budget) camera technology – I decided to take a 360º camera with me.
Traditionally you view 360º footage with a pair of goggles but, by using a process known as “overcapture”, it’s possible to pull a stabilised shot from the footage in post-production.
It’s quite a revolutionary concept when you think about it, especially for newsrooms – imagine being able to send a reporter to an unpredictable event like a protest or a war zone with one of these cameras. Simply by pressing record, they would be able to capture every bit of action within view.
But enough about this (before I talk myself out of a job) …
My plan was to film the entire walk using a small gimbal for the slow TV interactive, and then also shoot the “highlights” with a 360º camera mounted on a pole sticking out of my backpack.
A pole sticking out of your backpack? You must have looked ridiculous.
This is true. Holding a tiny camera out in front of me for hours on end, with another tiny camera stuck on a pole sprouting from my backpack … I looked like a budget version of Google Maps Street View. I got a lot of funny looks but greeted everyone I came across with a smile and “g’day” and I didn’t have any problems.
Looks great, was it fun to make?
Yes and no.
Yes, in that I still can’t believe I managed to convince the news desk to let me go hiking for four days on the company dollar. I did set off from Bondi in the middle of a heatwave in temperatures hovering between 32C and 37C … so that wasn’t ideal. But overall, it was far better to be out there sweating buckets than being stuck in the office.
Once the trek was over, though, the sad truth is I spent almost two months on and off hunched over a computer screen editing – more time by far than I spent walking from Bondi to Manly!
My first attempt at the hyperlapse gave my editor motion sickness – not the result I was hoping for.
The 360º camera’s editing software was still in beta and couldn’t do what I needed it to, so I had to develop my own painstaking, RSI-inducing workflow – a seemingly endless cycle of stabilising, animating, blurring and colour correcting.
I would set exports up overnight and check the results in the morning. If there was a mistake I’d have to re-export the files the next day.
Sound design was also a huge part of the video: I encourage people to watch it wearing a good pair of headphones. There are more than 130 sound effects packed into the video, dialled in and tweaked to perfection by Guardian Australia’s podcast producer, Miles Martignoni.
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