In my opinion one can say that Shahab Behzumi is one of the pioneers of Hyperlapsing in Germany. For this reason I am very happy he has agreed to make a tutorial for LRTimelapse.com that will be published in a the near future. Until then he has taken the time to let us interview him.
German readers please check out the German version of the interview
Before you read this interview please enjoy watching his amazing Berlin Video, in case you haven't seen it yet.
Hello Shahab, thank you so much for taking the time to take this interview! Would you like to share with us how you came about doing Hyperlapsing?
In the autumn of 2006 I purchased my first Camera, a Nikon Coolpix 30 L3, at the time this Camera offered no Manual functions. From then on I haven't stopped taking pictures.
The Camera has a Stop-Motion Function that enabled the camera to put together the separate Pictures into a Film sequence. This granted a playful introduction to what was to come.
My first engagement with the Stop-Motion/Time-lapse Medium, was completely intuitive,experimental and in disregard of technical demands, which i am very happy about.
The Time-lapse function of my camera worked much in my favor, since it had a higher resolution than the video function could offer. So then I could “already” use 1024x768 instead of 640x480. (This was very much in my interest.)
Which is still the case today! Where most camera's video function „only“ can offer Full HD quality, Time lapse has a resolution of 4K and 5K. But please, continue...
In the beginning it was not a just a pure time-lapse nor a pure Stop-Motion. It was much more a mixture of both.. I just experimented excessively and intuitively. Sometime, beginning of 2007 I discovered the „prototype“ of walk-lapse and really got onto that. More and more I began to moving around the objects I was trying to capture, in circular motions to rotate them and to be able to capture them from all perspectives. I often filled entire memory cards without even noticing. Hourlong, excessive capturing of Images felt like minutes passing. It became an obsession.
For the most part of the time my motivation was to capture moments by being completely in the present, which is an organic state brought forth through this creative process. One is completely one with the work and in a meditative and satisfied state.
In the autumn of 2007 I began my studies at the Art Academy in Mannheim and luckily I had discovered a point of interest, which interested professors and peers alike. It was something individual and unknown, that nobody was familiar with in this form, at least nobody I knew. In that respect in enjoyed acknowledgment and admiration in the art scene.
In this time I received the first requests from artist and musicians to document or present their work. I utilized my technique to capture specific objects or even processes for instance in image-clips.
This was the catalyst for the transition to work more detailed and exact, instead of „just“ taking pictures wildly and just going with the flow. So the whole thing developed to what it is now: parallel to my passion, professional perspectives have opened up, upon which I founded my business „b-zOOmi“ in 2009. The Name is in derived from my last name but also inspires to „zoom in“.
One problem still existed: I hadn't found a title, or name for my „technique“ or „art form“. This turned out to become a real problem when I was asked about my work. Doubtful looks and elaborate explanations were a daily occurrence.
Only in the last year did I discover the term „Hyper-lapse“, that as far as I know was developed from the american time lapse producer Dan Eckert. My respects to his work.
It became an immediate interest to me to see how other photographers simultaneously were applying similar innovative styles and techniques and were bringing these to perfection.
All in all it's about growing and evolving as an artist and photographer and contributing ones personal perspective.
A very interesting biography. Would you like to tell us more about the technique aspect of your work that you implement today? For instance in your Berlin Video?
I am sure my readers are interested in how you, a veteran of the craft can share your knowledge much more than i could.
Especially since you capture your images in a linear movement which in your video seems like a flight line, Do you draw a line on the ground that you follow and use for orientation or do you do it by intuition?
I think the „flight line“ through. I have to be very focused when capturing the images. to not forget important factors , all the while trying to „fly“ smoothly. Otherwise I will get a wobbly Image, especially when filming up close. Even when focusing the far away object accurately, it can come to an inaccurate perspective in the closer vicinity, which causes unfavorable effects. These can rarely be corrected sufficiently in post production, if at all.
Do you, in the beginning of a caption, look for a point of reference you fixate on, the way I do, for instance the corner of a house etc, that remains in the same space through out the sequences?
Of course, that is essential. I always look for an exact point of reference that i fixate on. Before I began using „After Effects“ and a stabilizer I had to work very exact. I even used a white marker to draw a line on my camera display, to be able to reach this exact point I was fixating. If it didn't work the first time I would do it again. I would compare the Image Sequences until I reached the exact point on my camera display and was satisfied with the caption. There for I would have irregular time frequencies between the individual images. For instance passing clouds or things that would disappear in the background abruptly.
Thanks to AE i no longer have to work as tedious on the accuracy of the alignments. There for I can concentrate on the continuity of time accuracy. I am still very thankful for the years of obsessing over the accuracy and perfection, it has taught me well. It is definitely advisable to work as exact and accurate as possible , alone to avoid losing the space in the Image by having to cut a lot out in the post-production, to balance out the wobbles. And just as you mentioned earlier the „Point of Reference“ of the camera is not to be underestimated. Alone 5 cm discrepancy in a Hyperlapse in the closer vicinity, especially with wide angle lenses, can cause obvious contortions, that often times can not be corrected in the post production.
In your Video you frequently zoom in very closely. Do you do this in the post production or do you actually adjust the zoom on your lens?
Zooming in and out is something I do directly on the camera while taking the pictures, for about 95% of the time. It enables me to work with the fullest resolution in the post production. Most Lenses have a scale from which I can define the zoom and from then on can rotate at the same distance. Even better though is if I can look through the view finder and work in small steps, „user-defined“ and feeling my way. I often choose to work in relatively large time increments between the individual pictures, for instance 10 seconds, that gives me enough leeway to look at the pictures on the camera screen and compare the last picture with the one before that and if needed retake the sequence and make corrections, when doubting if I zoomed in or out too much.
Sometimes I speed or slow down the zoom, this requires a lot of practice and a good feel for the material. It is also very difficult to estimate the distance from the object and how many „zoom-increments“ are even possible. This is always dependent on how many more images are still to be made and the number of zoom levels chosen. As you can notice if you are not working very concentrated and don't plan, it can easily happen that one gets to the end of the object-zoom before you have reached the goal image.
If one would want to be very exact, one would have to use a distance meter/range finder and plan the entire walk. Throughout the years and all the practice I have become a good feel for the distances. And this is what I would recommend to anybody: practice, practice, practice!
You also can never know what might happen throughout your walk. A number of times I had to interrupt and stop a walk for a variety of unforseen reasons.
For the extreme zooms that you do, do you use a „super-zoom“ Lens with an extremely broad focal length or do you switch Lenses while capturing Images?
To avoid switching up the Lenses, I prep myself with two of the same model Cameras that can release each other. If I, for instance went up from 18mm in 50 Steps to 105mm to later on go on to a 70-300mm lens, to, for instance, achieve the famous Vertigo-Effect, the largest possible „dolly-out, zoom-in“ effect.
Let me explain to our readers: the „Vertigo“, named after the Hitchcock Film, affect is a common technique where the camera is moving from or towards an object and the zoom is simultaneously is pulled the other way. Therefor the camera seems to be still but the perspective changes dramatically.
Do you always take pictures in the manual mode, what is what I always recommend, or do you use an automatic mode to capture your images?
Thanks to Lightroom and LRTimelapse I am luckily very free when it comes to lighting and white balance. Generally I do everything in a manual mode and do color corrections and the “DEFLICKER” in your genius LRTimelapse.
What about the Autofocus? Do you turn it off or use it, especially since you generally move towards or away from the objects you are focusing on?
Here as well, I usually work manually. Otherwise every object in the foreground, let it be a tree or a post, would change the focus. In the night the autofocus doesn't work anyway, except one lights up the object one wants to capture telling the camera what to focus on.
Do you use the Live-View on your Nikon D7000 when capturing images?
Definitely! The Live-View is put to good use in the night. In the night I can barely or not see anything at all by looking through the view finder. To get down focused walks in these cases, I turn on the Live-View and press the plus-button, to expand the section I am trying to capture and am able to focus it manually.
Can you recommend anything to those of my readers that are making their first attempts at Hyper-Lapsing.
The advice I have: Just start! The first attempts can just consist of having the camera on automatic and just focus on staying on the same point while keeping an eye on the intervals and your path. The rest, LRTimelapse will take care of... :-)
Sounds good! What are your next projects looking like? Are there any new projects?
Oh, there are definitely some...Surely more films will follow, Which cities or areas, I don't want to give away yet. But one thing is for sure. Berlin wasn't the beginning nor the end.
It is my passion, to capture the whole world I get to see! Of course in the future I don't want to do one city project after the other, much more I would like to return to my origins and dedicate myself more to art.
In my Opinion there is a significant difference if one solely refers to „technicalities“ and applies this cold and mechanically on objects or if one creates something unique and particular, while utilizing technical know-how as a means to impart certain things with more „life“ and „force“. This is what distinguishes an artist from a pure cinematographer.
Dear Shahab, thank you so much for the interesting insight of your work. We are very much looking forward to your new projects and especially your announced tutorial.
As I said, a tutorial is coming very soon. At the time I have a ton of work I need to get through. But then it will be on! I don't want to do „just another tutorial“.
Best regards to all of you out there, stay „zOOmic“!
To all the readers that want to connect with Shahab, check out his website
or look him up on Facebook
And before the professional tutorial is up, German users can check out the Basics on my Fotoschnack-Tutorial