DJI Osmo Pocket – Experiments in Time Distortion Filming
As some of you may know, I have recently invested in a DJI Osmo Pocket and over the past week or two I have been filming various subjects using the range of shooting modes and settings the Omso Pocket offers. As I have been experimenting with this new gadget, I have to say the footage I have been most excited to produce is footage based on the different ‘lapses’ – from timelapse to motionlapse and of course hyperlapse.
Many phones and cameras of today come with these various shootings modes, though I have to admit I have seldom used them so experimenting with them on the Osmo was very exciting for me.
The first timelapse I created using the Osmo was filmed from behind a window facing out the front of my house. I set the timelapse up for two hours to catch the sunset between 8pm and 10pm and set it to take an image every 5 seconds so the footage appears smooth when all the images are combined into the final video. The resulting timelapse length is 18.13 seconds.
Filming the sunset comes with some possible issues; the amount of light hitting your photo sensor changes which could lead to the footage being under or over exposed. However, I was very happy to find that the Osmo Pocket dealt really well with the changing light throughout the sequence and automatically compensated ISO and aperture settings to match the darkening sky.
I am particularly pleased with the motion of the clouds moving through the sky caught in this timelapse and also find the way the overcast clouds at times become illuminated by oranges and pinks very visually appealing.
This timelapse is very different from the last. Recently, there have been some tremendous storms over my town and surrounding areas and on one particular night when the lightening was very abundant, I decided to try and film a timelapse of the storm. I set the timelapse up for 30 minutes, and to take an image every 3 seconds, resulting in a 15 second long final clip.
Again, I am pleased with how smooth the final video is and find the quick flashes of lightening that illuminate the sky rather beautiful in a frightening way as they cast the foreground into silhouettes and show the true raw power of the storm. I am not particularly fond of storms, and so this timelapse is again filmed from behind some windows and this does hinder the footage as raindrops sit on the window and obscure the view, creating a less cleanly focused final product. I also faced issues with the composition, because it was so dark out, I struggled with aligning the shot to avoid getting the window frame in, and as you can see in the final video the frame does block out a rather significant chunk of the right hand side of the shot.
For my first motionlapse, I again decided to film the sunset from my front window. On this particular evening, there were lots of clouds rolling across the sky and I really wanted to capture their shape shifting movements through the motionlapse. For this motionlapse, I again stuck with filming for two hours as I found this length of time beautifully captures the progression of evening into night and the changing, smooth blanket-like flows of the clouds and ever changing colours of the sky and clouds. Following my chosen key frames from point A to B, the camera slowly moved over time, panning from the top right down towards the bottom left and I find the added motion really enhances the movements of the clouds and adds just that little more intrigue in the shot.
However, next time I will have to set point B slightly higher to avoid getting the two cars in the bottom of the frame as I found them rather distracting. I will also be more aware of the reflections caught in the glass window I shot through as quite early on in the video you can spot the reflection of my ceiling light in the shot and again this makes the overall video less clean and crisp.
Taking what I had learnt from the previous motionlapse, I then went on to film three more motionlapses of the sun set over a similar time span and improved each and every time. I made minor adjustments to the placement of my key frames to avoid capturing the cars in the bottom of the frame. Though, I have yet to avoid capturing the lamppost at the bottom right of the frame, which proves to be a very distracting feature as it is a very bold white that lights up the silhouetted trees in the foreground and creates a vibrant distraction, even from the most colourful of skies.
I am overall very happy with the outcomes, as I find the transition of evening into night and the changing tones of the sky very aesthetically pleasing and the smooth panning motion harmonizes with the movement of the clouds. Additionally, I find the silhouetted foreground very appealing. It is a negative space that acts as a breathing space in the video and enhances the sense of serenity whilst also adding contrast that makes the sky more defined and vibrant.
My first two hyperlapses are very quick test shots I filmed whilst on a day out. I had no previous experience with hyperlapses so used these two as mini experiments. For both clips I set the hyperlapse pace at x5, speeding up the pace significantly. In both these clips I walk around some sharp corners which when sped up to the x5 is very disorientating and creates a sense of whiplash that could be used effectively in some circumstances but in these particular clips is more off-putting. The second of the two clips depicts a subject walking in front of the camera and her movements seem very animated which again makes the clip see less smooth and cinematic.
These next two hyperlapses were filmed down Ingleborough Cave, following a winding path in a low light situation. Again, the Osmo Pocket performed excellently with the low light and whilst it is a bit grainy in the really dark parts, the clip runs so fast it is barely noticeable and I do believe that if the camera was given more time to adjust to the lighting it would automatically make adjustments to correctly expose the shots without having a grainy high ISO. Similarly to the above clips, I do find these ones slightly disorientating with a quick turns and movements, but I find these ones less whiplash-like as the corners are more curved and sharp, creating that smoother flow.
One of the main reasons I think these hyperlapses didn’t turn out as cinematically as I was aiming for is because they don’t have a fixed focal point. Hyperlapse depends on focal points to look stable. The focal points add a sense of stabilisation to the image and without them it is harder to create a smooth hyperlapse. In all the hyperlapses I filmed, I was moving around a lot and changing directions regularly which makes the footage more jittery. To improve, I would try to follow a straight line towards or around a key subject or focal point, making slow turns to create a more fluid, and smooth cinematic feel.
So far in my experiments with the various ‘lapses’ offered by the Osmo Pocket, I am feeling rather confident in using motionlapses and timelapses and look forward to changing the location I film in to include a more varied range of movements within the shots itself and for the motionlapse, experiment with the way the camera pans. I am still getting to grips with the hyperlapse feature, and feel like I need to try out some more things with the lessons learned from these shoots to create smoother motions and film at a slower rate and create a more cinematic feel that can always be sped up in post production. I still have every intention to continue to experiment with all the features of the Osmo Pocket and look forward to whatever successes and failures I may encounter and how I will learn to make the most out of this amazing device.