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How to create a walking hyperlapse

What is a walking Hyperlapse?

A walking hyperlapse is a type of hyperlapse that makes it look like you are walking at normal speed, while everything around you is speeding by.

Just tell me how to do it!

I’ll show you how to calculate your own custom settings below, but if you’d just like to try it out, record a video at 1 fps (frame per second) (By either using an intervalometer, or by using timelapse/interval mode on your camera.) Then, walk at exactly 124 steps per minute. (Download a metronome app on your phone so you can walk to a precise beat.) Then, play back the video at 24 fps, and it will look like you are walking at a normal speed!

Want to calculate a custom walking hyperlapse for jogging, running, bicycling, or for different frame rates or durations? I created a free calculator just for that. Go to WalkingHyperlapse.com on your phone or computer to calculate your own custom walking hyperlapse.

WalkingHyperlapse.com screen shot

Watch my full tutorial on YouTube, or continue below

How does this work?

If you were to walk at a speed of exactly 2 steps per second, that would mean every time one second passes, your left foot would touch the ground.

Let’s say you are recording a timelapse at 1fps. Every time a frame is captured, your left foot is on the ground, so it would look like you are frozen in time, even though you are actually walking. The background would whiz by, but your body would appear frozen.

Now, imagine if you could increase the frame interval slightly, so instead of capturing a picture once per second, it would wait a fraction of a second longer before snapping the next image.

In the first frame capture, your left foot might be on the ground. But on the next capture, you’re going to be a little bit further along in your next step, so the frame will be slightly different than the last one. During each consecutive frame, you’ll be slightly further along in the next step, so the camera is actually capturing each phase of a normal step, only it’s capturing a small segment of “every other step” instead of capturing 24 frames of a normal step.

When you play back that footage at 24fps, you will appear to be walking normally, as everything around you is speeding by.

Unfortunately, cameras don’t typically offer such fine control over capture interval, so instead, we must calculate a slightly faster pace to walk at. So you walk a little faster, but keep your frame rate capture at 1 frame per second.

In you increase your frame interval, say to 5 seconds, you might not be capturing every other step, you might be capturing every 4th step, or every 10th step. But don’t worry, my calculator at WalkingHyperlapse.com takes that into account automatically.

Tips

  1. Use a slower shutter speed if you don’t have a gimbal, it’ll help smooth out some of the camera shake, emphasize movement of the scene, and will blur together any small differences in your walking speed. To prevent over exposing the frame, you can close down your aperture, use the lowest ISO setting possible, but if you’re shooting in direct sunlight you’ll probably also need to use an ND filter like the one in the image below to block some additional light. This one here is from Gobe, you can check out all the different sizes they have to find one that fits your lens here.
  1. If you’re recording someone else, you’ll want to try your best to keep the person in the same spot in each frame in order to prevent too much jitter. You can always add some image stabilization in post production, but a gimble will definitely help too.
  2. Try and get as close to the person as possible, so that means using a wide lens, which will allow you to get nice and close, which will de-emphasize some of the inevitable inconsistencies in camera position between each frame captured.
  3. For filming by yourself, use a monopod held at a 45° angle close to the ground, pointed at you, to get a side view of yourself walking. Flip the image in post production.
  4. Think about your composition when recording a walking hyperlapse. Things far away in the distance will move much slower, while things closer to the camera will move fast and appear blurry, which can add some nice contrast to your scene and provide more context.

The Math

At first, I just experimented with a pace of 126 steps per minute just for proof of concept. It was a little fast. But then I wanted to try and figure out the math in order to more accurately calculate the correct pace to reproduce a natural walking speed.

So the first thing I needed to do was figure out the average walking pace. According to this article, 100 steps per minute is about average. So, 50 complete walking cycles per minute (One left step and one right step = one walking cycle.)

100 steps per minute /2 = 50 walking cycles per minute. 60 seconds / 50 cycles = 1.2 seconds per walking “cycle”.

Now, we need to take the duration of a normal walking cycle, but add the duration of an additional frame so that the next frame captures us walking at what would be the next leg position in a normal 24fps recording. So one frame of a 24fps film would be 1/24 = .042 seconds per frame.

1.2 seconds + one additional frame 0.042 seconds = 1.242 seconds.

1.242 seconds is the amount of time we need to compress into 1 second. So 1fps / 1.242 seconds = ~0.805 scale factor.

With the scale factor figured out, we can simply multiply it with the duration of one walking cycle.

1.2 sec per walk cycle * 0.805 scale factor = 0.966 sec per walk cycle.

60/0.966 seconds = 62.11 walk cycles per minute.

Double that number to find the cadence for both the left and right foot. So that’s 124.22 steps per minute. Round it to 124.

Longer frame intervals

It gets tricky when you use a longer capture intervals because you’d have to walk so unnaturally slow in order to capture the correct leg position it just doesn’t work. So instead, you should factor in an adjustment factor so that the frame captures at a further interval of steps instead of every other step.

For example, if you’re capturing a frame at a 5 second interval, you can walk at 96bpm and a frame will be captured every 8 steps.

Again, my free calculator figures all of that out for you automatically. So go to WalkingHyperlapse.com to check it out.

The calculator also tells you the total recording duration and number of steps required based off of your desired playback duration, and it will also estimate a distance you have to walk too!

It has preset paces for walking, fast walking, jogging, running, and even bicycling!

BONUS! – I also realized that if instead of adding the duration of a frame to the duration of a walking cycle, we can subtract it, and it will make it look like you are moon walking, lol. So I added that as a “mode” on walkinghyperlapse.com.

Moon Walking Hyperlapse mode

And if we don’t add any interval at all, it will kind of freeze you in one spot, although I couldn’t get this to work 100%, due to everything needing to be in sync perfectly. But I added that as a mode to the calculator too.

Frozen hyperlapse mode

I’m sure a lot of you are much better filmmakers than myself, so please, if you use this technique, tag it with #WalkingHyperlapse so I can check it out!

By Matt Donley

Matt is the creator of onlinebusinesstech where he shares tips, tricks, and tutorials on how to leverage technology when building your own online business.