This is a guest post by Art Sanchez and Miguel de Olaso on his work submitted to the Videolog.
In this article Art explains how he shot 8K video on a Nikon D800 for his mesmerising architecture film about Son Brull Hotel&Spa.
Visit the Vimeo page and download the 4K source to enjoy this video on a 4K screen.
Art and Miguel teamed up when they saw a lack of high-quality films that showcase architecture in motion and decided to do something about it. They developed a new filming technique for architectural videos to capture 8K video with minimal equipment.
The Quicklapse Technique
We’ve developed the Quicklapse technique which is a way to generate ultra high resolution real time video. By capturing continuous bursts of still images and applying interpolation algorithms in post-production to fill up the missing frames we are able to create unsurpassed video quality.
Basically we shoot low frame rate, high resolution sequences and turn them into smooth motion video.
This technique is perfect for premiere global destinations, states, resorts, interior design and to showcase iconic architecture projects.
Main advantages of the Quicklapse Technique:
- High resolution and rich colour imagery: Video with professional photographic quality at affordable production costs.
- Full frame capture for good low light performance and optimal lens coverage especially at wide angles and on tilt/shift lenses.
Disadvantages of the Quicklapse Technique:
- Tedious and slow workflow due to large file sizes and raw formats not developed for video.
- A limiting factor: fast moving objects can be a problem, such as trees or water splashes.
- This technique works best on static objects and is ideal for architectural showcase videos.
Why did we choose the Quicklapse Technique over traditional high end video for this project?
- Higher resolution files allow for a much better stabilisation and perspective correction, ideal for an 8K or 4K finish.
- Excellent performance: dynamic range, low noise, raw flexibility and great color science, helped us create luxurious imagery.
- Lighter camera setup, offered more stability when using complex multi-axis motion control rigs.
- Post production: photographic acquisition made it easiest to emulate the architectural photography look.
When we developed the quicklapse technique the first task was to compare the best DSLR cameras available to date and test their buffer capabilities: We looked at the Canon 1DC, Canon 5D mark III, Nikon D4, Nikon D800, Sony A7, A7R, A99 and A6000.
The next step was to check the different possible combinations of shutter speeds combined with different burst speeds in order to find the sweet spot where each camera offered endless continuous shooting, in raw mode. Some cameras are able to shoot very fast bursts but they cannot hold that rate for long.
We also took useable dynamic range and overall image quality of each camera into account. After a month of tests, the Nikon D800 turned out to be the best contender for this project.
- Matching shutter speeds and frame rates to get a 180° shutter equivalents.
- We needed to solve Nikon’s limit of 100 maximum continuous shutter actuations (implemented in most models)
- We had to research different motion interpolation solutions (AE, Twixtor, etc).
- We needed to avoid flickering generated by the fast actuation of the diaphragm.
- Stabilisation isn’t used so often with shoot-move-shoot movements in timelapse, however it ended up being essential when moving continuously through the slider length.
- We had to optimise the use of tilt/shift lenses for motion applications and test this against post-production perspective correction. T/s lenses are quite tricky in video.
Nikon D800 resolution vs. professional cinema cameras
This is how the resolution of the Nikon D800 compares to top cinema cameras:
- Nikon D800: 36mpx
- Red Epic Dragon: 19mpx
- Arri Alexa 65: 20mpx
- Sony F65: 20mpx
Compared to conventional 8K video:
- Nikon D800: 7360 x 4912 pixels (3:2 aspect ratio) –> 36.3mpx
- 8K UHD: 7680 x 4320 pixels (16:9 aspect ratio) –> 33.1mpx
- 8K DCI: 8192 x 4320 pixels (17:9 aspect ratio) –> 35.3mpx
We contacted Alex Gutierrez, motion control engineer and CEO at Mslider and they created a custom intervalometer to bypass the Nikon’s limit especially for this project.
This little box fires the camera through the shutter port. The frame rate selection had to be chosen before shooting, by reprogramming the settings of the high-speed intervalometer with the help of a computer.
Motion control rigs
We opted for multi-axis programmable motorised sliders to achieve smooth and continuous camera movements, we used two different systems: Stage One slider with Emotimo TB3 head with 3 axis and also a 2 axis Mslider system.
Working with precise and repeatable motion becomes a time saver and brings a confidence factor to the production.
When working with high density sensors (as the 36mpx D800 sensor), the use of high quality glass is mandatory. Our lens bag was formed by a complete set of Nikon mount lenses, and a few Hasselblad Medium format lenses with a tilt/shift Nikon adapter.
A common use for the vertical shift is to avoid converging verticals in the image; however, we took advantage of another practical use of these lenses: we also were able to avoid seeing the slider in long push-in movements.
We ended up shooting more than 50,000 stills during the two weeks of production.
Since the whole project was shot in the RAW format, the processing and conversion of the stills had to be done before the editing could start. We used Lightroom for RAW conversion. It took more than two weeks to export the 36mp colour corrected RAW material to 4K. And we are not counting the time we spent dialling the right settings in Lightroom. Two straight weeks where our main computer was just exporting image files, 24/7!
Once we had image sequences we imported those into After Effects, where we performed tasks such as stabilisation, perspective control and of course time remapping. This process took about two more weeks. We exported the clips to either uncompressed or Cineform codec video files.
Finally the editing was done in Sony Vegas, which handles 4K and the Cineform codec pretty well.
Some Tips To Shoot Beautiful Architectural Videos
In sunny bright destinations like Mallorca, exterior views are the main selling point when booking a stay. That’s why choosing the right time of the day to shoot each room is dictated mostly by the sun.
In order to represent the maximum tonal range of the scene and create a pleasant aesthetic, most interior spaces are best shot when the sun enters through the windows. This involves having a carefully designed schedule to cover as much of the building as possible with the right light at the right moment of the day.
Another interesting time occurs during the twilight, just when sunlight and artificial light show equal brightness. With the right exposure we can capture very appealing images.
If one of the goals of architectural photography is to make the viewer understand the concept and mood of a building, with our new architectural motion photography technique we wanted to go one step further to create the experience of being in the space itself.
This is a guest post by Art Sanchez and Miguel de Olaso, Macgregor