Monday, March 24, 2014


Time to ditch this GeoMetro blogger business and upgrade to a nice to Porche like domain!

The Kyle Life <-- NEW SITE

First things first- for those of you that have subscribed, you will need to subscribe at the new website.  You will no longer receive email updates from this blogger anymore.  The good news the subscriber is not through FeedBurner anymore so you will literally just need to enter your email and hit Subscribe (it's at the bottom of all pages on the new site)!

Second- It was time for an upgrade.  Running the blog on this new domain gives me significantly more freedom than before.  I have pages created for my GoPro photography, any trip or vacation videos, and a tips & tricks page.  For those that attend our annual Golden Brewski this domain will help organize the entire event now that the Golden Brewski has its own page, stay tuned more info will be posted at as it becomes available.

Over the next few weeks I'll be working on linking this site over to and adding new content as I get it!  All of the old #TimelapseTuesday's have been moved over already so if you want to look back to the beginning, have fun!

Still balding but not bald

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Window Surfing

This past week I did take one new timelapse that I'm pretty excited about.  However I want to combine it with one or two more before showing it, and sadly I have to contribute a busy workweek to my list of excuses.  Unfortunately this meant that a newly shot timelapse wasn't ready for today!  I'm not mad because the goal of this project is to shoot a new timelapse every week to force myself to get out and use my camera which I did, I just cant reveal it yet.

Don't worry, I wouldn't dare leave you hanging so I decided this week would be a fun chance to re-edit some of my past timelapses.  The goal was to highlight my work but in a different way so it still felt fresh.  If you are reading this from a colder state such as Wisconsin then I can guarantee you are craving some warm weather just like I am.  On the weekends I try to do most of time timelapse shoots because I have the most time to work with.  Weekends tend to start by getting up, sitting on the couch and looking at the weather/outside to see what I can shoot given the conditions.  Lately when I sit on the couch and look outside my mind begins to wander to awesome place I'd much rather be taking timelapses. Hopefully this illustrates my day dreams!.

Thoughts and What's Next?
I talked briefly last week about some new blog articles coming that are focused on other material.  I'm hoping to debut the posts within the next two weeks along with an awesome surprise I really can't wait to show.

It is so hard to believe that I'm coming up on four months into the project so far, and it has become much more exciting for myself than I thought.  Hearing what people say about it has been incredibly rewarding, and I'm so happy everyone is enjoying it!  Thanks so much for following it means alot to me, hopefully I've inspired a few to get out and try something out of their comfort zone.

Still balding but not bald,

Twitter & Instagram: @kylelawso
Timelapse Vimeo Channel
The Kyle Life Vimeo Channel

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Monona Sliding

This week is featuring two timelapses using the DigiSlider motion controlled system. They were taken with various ND Filters combined with the Nikkor 18-55 and Sigma 10-20mm lenses.  The music featured in the #TimelapseTuesday today is by Kris Rickaby, the full song is embedded below check it out!

I'm so incredibly pumped about this one because the motion controlled slider my wife got me for my birthday finally arrived!  In this video you may notice the camera moving, this is not an effect I did in post production rather the camera physically moved during the entire shot.  To help understand what it is I used my GoPro to film the behind the scenes of the setup of each timelapse.

The DigiSlider is a motion controlled system with a move-shoot-move controller.  It may sound complicated but the its purpose is simple.  I program into the remote how far to move during each interval and how long it will take to snap each picture.  It starts by taking a picture, once the picture is taken it moves X distance, stops, takes a picture, and repeat over and over until it hits the end.  It can go from one end to the other in as fast as 10 minutes or as slow as 24 hours.

You may not be as pumped as I am about this but this will hopefully add another dynamic to my timelapses and really help capture the scene in each video.  Recently I've been talking alot about framing of the timelapses, and with a slider framing becomes significantly more important.  In the first timelapse of the capitol this is very obvious in 2 ways.  The beginning the camera starts in the log and slides out of the log revealing the captiol.  It appears to move very quickly then when the log is fully out of view it feels like it slows down.  This is because there is nothing close by to give you a frame of reference for how far the camera is moving.  The second timelapse has parts of the log always in frame and during the entire shot you can easily sense the motion.

Thoughts and What's Next?
I shot these timelapses on Saturday and stumbled into an awesome location.  The original plan was to shoot the capitol from a distance using my telescoping lens.  I went to Pleasant View golf course, I could easily see the capitol however with all the snow I just wasn't feeling the setup.  Olin park looking over the frozen lake Monona was my second option.  As I approached the park I quickly noticed all of the ice fishermen and felt that if I could be at a distance and capture both the fishermen and the capitol it might add some more movement.  As I was walking along the frozen lake I noticed a fallen tree which had been rotted out in the middle creating an awesome spot to put my camera.  Finding a way to clear out the snow and prop the slider up correctly took more time than expected and once it started rolling I was happy with the framing.  While it was shooting I realized that using my wide angle lens and capturing the inside of the log and the lake would make for a cool second perspective.

What's next...warm weather!  Hopefully the frigid cold is behind us and I can start to get out in Madison and capture some unique timelapses.  I'm also going to be working on a second half to this blog.  It will focus on editing techniques, GoPro mounts, GoPro settings, and other useful tips for people looking to get started.  I would love to hear what you would like to have featured so leave some comments with suggestions, more to come!

Still balding but not bald,

Twitter & Instagram: @kylelawso
Timelapse Vimeo Channel
The Kyle Life Vimeo Channel

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Night Rider

This timelapse was taken with a f4.5 aperture / 500 iso / 2" exposure / 3" interval / Processed in Lightroom / RAW format / Sigma 10-20mm lens set to 12mm

In this timelapse I wanted to utilize the long exposure of a night time shoot in conjunction with the lights from cars and street lights.  As the exposure is kept open the light burns into the picture, while the light moves from one spot to the other you can see the entire streak of light.  Knowing this I thought it would create a very interesting and dreamlike drive.  It definitely can seem dizzying to people however by getting the dash and hood of the car in the picture it provides something with stability and a stationary frame of reference.  One part of the timelapse that I felt turned out better than expected were the clouds moving in the sky.  The drive to me actually felt that it was 100% overcast and I didnt believe definition could be taken from the heavy cloud cover.  That just goes to show how much light comes in while the exposure is held open, alot of times light your eyes cant see a long exposure can still pick up.

Thoughts and What's Next?
Tons of new and exciting things are on the horizon!  First of all for my birthday my wife got me a motorized slider.  This will bring an entirely new dimension to the timelapses and I'll explain further in the next one.  Now if we can just get the temperatures to warm up every so slightly so my camera can function outside!

Still balding but not bald,

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Flight Canceled = DEN Timelapse!

These are multiple timelapses taken while stuck in the DEN airport for the entire day.  They were taken with various ND Filters combined with the Nikkor 18-55, Nikkor 55-300, and Sigma 10-20mm lenses.

In these videos I was really working on focal points and frames of reference.  I wanted deep depth of field that captured much of the action at DEN.  Of all timelapses I've done so far this was hands down the most enjoyable.  Never was I rushed by lighting, pressed by time, or was cold as I was setting it up.  I actually had some time to work through various settings, try new ones and retake the shots.  This was an incredible learning opportunity of which I hope to spend time timelapsing like this again.

Putting the video together I really wanted to showcase how retiming videos can be a engaging tool that is very easy.  Throughout the video you will notice timelapses speed up, slow down, play in reverse, and even stop at times.  Nothing was done during the shoot other than "overshooting".  If my goal is to get 10-12 second timelapses I will try to capture 15-20 seconds worth of timelapse so that I can speed up, slow down or even pick my favorite section.

Retiming is something that most editing programs will have, some are robust and some are preset speeds.  Either way it is very clear how interesting retiming is.  From reading various blogs and articles they say that retiming is captivating because as you watch a timelapse for a few seconds your brain and eyes start to predict things.  For example: clouds moving across the screen at a constant speed, will trick the brain into predicting that the clouds will move to "X" spot before it actually happens.  All of the sudden the direction of the clouds reverse and your eyes are instantly drawn to the most apparent change.  This is a tactic that I believe can be the easiest yet most impactful effect for beginning editors.  Be creative, don't just stick to the norm.  Retiming can even be taking a few seconds out of a clip as someone walks.  Something this small will be surprisingly catchy!

Thoughts and What's Next?
Like I stated before, these timelapses were a blast to capture and easily the most educational as I was able to spend a long amount of uninterrupted time with the camera.  I need to make it a point to do this more often however the weather unfortunately can be a large determinant of how much time I can spend. Hopefully spring gets here soon!

Most times I hate canceled flights, in this case it worked out...that is until I was re-routed to Chicago and stuck driving home at 4:30am.

What's next, well I'm currently working through Photoshop and Lightroom on a really cool driving sequence.  It may leave you slightly dizzy but the streaks of light at night are pretty awesome, see you next week!

Still balding but not bald,

Twitter & Instagram: @kylelawso
Timelapse Vimeo Channel
The Kyle Life Vimeo Channel

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Basic to Advanced Editing Tips and Workflow

Ragin Bajan Barbados
Welcome to a special edition of #TimelapseTuesday!  The video above utilizes a number of timelapses taken during a vacation in Barbados.  Besides the use of the timelapses pay attention to the speed, there are a few times where you will see me utilize "overshooting" to speed up and slowdown timelapses for effects (most notable around 1:40). Quickly- Overshooting is shooting a timelapse at either a shorter interval to produce more pictures or shoot over a longer period of time. The total pictures taken may take 30 seconds to playback in regular speed but by having the extra frames you can either speed up or slowdown the sequence without a loss in quality.

Special Edition
I have received numerous questions regarding what I use to edit, tips for editing and other general questions about the post-production process not aimed at timelapses.  For this #TimelapseTuesday I'm actually going to walk through my workflow for a non-timelapse project and give some tips and tricks along the way.  First I'll discuss the programs I use and suggest cheaper programs for starters.  Following will be the basic workflow that I recommend all starters to master before moving on.  Lastly some advanced steps that I do to take videos to the next level.  If you're already using a program skip to the Basic Editing Workflow.

I use multiple programs for my editing, below is listed what programs I use and what they are intended for.

  • Final Cut Pro X (Mac Only):  The main powerhouse.  Final Cut will handle 90% of the work and is aimed at piecing together your composition, add music, sound FX, transitions, basic effects, and and color corrections.
  • Motion5 (Mac Only):  Creates custom templates, animations, advanced effects, motion tracking, advanced titles ect. Creations in  Motion5 are exported to Final Cut to be applied to the video.
  • Lightroom:  Used for timelapes to process, color correct, and add effects to the photographs before they are pieced together into a timelapse video sequence.

Below are other programs I would recommend for Mac/PC users both advanced and starter programs.

  • Adobe Premier/After Effects:  Professional quality equivalent to Final Cut Pro and Motion5, you will find that this is similar to Microsoft vs Apple type of battle.  Both programs are incredibly powerful but users tend to be loyal to one brand vs other.
  • GoPro Studio 2.0:  Free software for creating your edit.  You can build a video from scratch or use templates already created, for free software I'm very happy with the quality of the program.  This is a very good program to start with.
  • iMovie: Fairly inexpensive but only available for Mac, of which I feel is on the same level as GoPro Studio 2.0, great for beginners. It will include the ability to add music, limited sound FX, basic transitions, title templates, and very basic effects. iMovie and GoPro Studio 2.0 does not have the ability to keyframe or do advance color corrections.
  • iPad Apps:  It may be surprising but my first 5 videos I edited about a year and a half ago were 100% edited on my iPad.  I'm still to this day blown away by how much they can do!  Excellent for beginners, only downside is that any video you want to use for your edit must be on your iPad.
    • iMovie:  Recently received an update that turned this once useless app into a good contender.  You can use templates or create your own edit from scratch.  The app can even retime video clips to create slowmotion or speed up clips.
    • Pinnacle Studio:  This was the app I used when I edited on my iPad and since the iMovie update they have similar features for the same price.
Basic Workflow
If you still consider yourself a beginner you need to live in and master this workflow before moving on!  A well executed basic workflow will always produce a better, cleaner video than someone who vomits any and every effect and animation on the edit.  Remember this is my workflow and merely a suggestion, if you're unsure where to start follow this workflow and modify to fit your style.
  1. With any project you need to review all footage that you have.  By no means should you watch every seconds but skim through a few seconds so you know what content it holds.  As you are reviewing the footage begin to separate your video into folders based on type of shot, activity or chronological order whichever makes the most sense to the project.  This will help you significantly in the next step.
  2. I begin looking for a song that fits the mood of the video I'm looking to create.  In my opinion it is valuable to find a lesser known song, my reasoning is that main stream songs are either loved or hated.  Regardless everyone will have thoughts, experience, a mood, or memory attached to it.  You do not want your viewer to go into the video expecting something based on the song and their memories, rather you want the viewer to see and experience the video how you are composing it and intending it to be seen.  While searching for the song I will begin to jot down a very rough order of events.  For example if I'm working based on activity I may write down: Travel to location, snorkeling, beach activities, caves, rum tour, rock climbing, ending.  Keeping this order close to you will keep you on track and focused.
  3. Once your song is chosen put it in your timeline and begin to piece video footage based on the order of events you have written down.  In my personal style I like to keep the clips somewhat short, never exceeding more than 7-8 seconds on the same clip.  Also listen and look for beats and changes in the music as these will be natural spots to transition to a different clip.  Here you can use clips in normal speed, speed them up, slow them down but keep them effects free.  Don't feel pressured to have enough clips to fill an entire song, when you run out of exciting or valuable clips fade the music out.
  4. Continually watch segments of video and get a feel for it.  Generated transitions like fading in/out of clips, rotating around, flipping, zoom in/out should be used only in places where you feel that the current transition feels awkward.  I do not advise using many of them, for example, there are only 5 preset transitions in the video above and it is nearly 6 minutes long.  The rest of the time it just plainly switches from 1 video to the next one.
  5. Export your video and enjoy reliving the moment!
Advanced Workflow
The advanced workflow starts after step 4 of the basic.
  1. Color correct each and every clip one by one first for exposures second for color.  DO NOT apply a preset color from a program at this point!  The first step before adding a colored look is you need to balance every clip to look the same.  Let's say you are on vacation for a week and shoot video all week.  Some days will be sunny, cloudy, overcast, underwater, inside, at night, ect.  Each setting produces different colors by the camera and if you apply 1 preset color scheme all clips will react different to the preset, resulting in an inconsistent video.  So how do you do this?  I use a combination of the videoscope and my own 2 eyes.  First start by using the videoscope graph to get you to the ballpark then make minor changes to make it look consistent. By consistent we are talking, all clips have dark rich tones, or light and vibrant, whites are all warm or cool colors but not both.  When using the videoscope the graph will show Red, Green, and Blue on a scale from light to dark.  See picture below. 
     On the left is the videoscope, middle is our video, right is the exposure adjustments.  In the videoscope on the left I have circled 2 values, the top is our "absolute white" the bottom is "absolute black"  This means anything above the top circle or below the bottom circle will just be a solid color with no definition.  However if no colors are near the values that means that the picture is flat the colors are not reaching to the full ranges, which we want. Also colors above or below these lines are out of broadcast range so if shown on a TV they will be completely blown out and just merely a glaring white spot or deep black hole.  In this case I will increase the highlights (whites) so that the most faint colors on the graph go slightly above the line (far right white dot will move up).  I also drag the blacks so that the most faint bottom color just goes below that line so we have true black in the video (black dot on the right pane will go down).  Below is the result of the change
     As you can see, this takes the "haze" out of our image.  Next I would adjust the color so they are all a similar color.  For example underwater tends to look green in the ocean and we need to fix the green murkiness.  Below is a before/after of an underwater shot. I find that this is where I tend to use my eyes more often than a graph. I want to make sure that I'm only removing or changing the mis-used colors and not changing the others. 
  2. Now that all of our colors are neutral we can add our desired overall color effect to give the video our style.  This can be created through changing the colors again in final cut pro or adding a preset. At this point I actually save my current edit as a separate project. I then combine all of my cuts and clips into 1 continuous segment. This way any changes or color effects I make will be to the entire clip as a whole.
  3. Lastly I will export this to Motion5 to add any last effects such as lens flares, film burns, or some motion tracking effects. I will cover these processes in a later posting if it is desired.
  • EDITING IS SUBJECTIVE!  Despite writing a workflow of what I do, in no way is this a Bible or what is considered "right".  This is your video so do what feels right.
  • Keep your clips short and only show what is important, trim the fat.  If you are showing a snorkeling scene don't show 10 seconds swimming to a good fish, just show a few seconds of a cool fish.  This way you don't lose your audience.
  • Find lesser known music that fits the mood.  Doing this allows the audience to focus on the content of your video and their memory attached to the song will be what you create in the video and not the memory of a bad breakup because it was the first song your view listened to after the dramatic breakup!
  • Less is more.  Adding an earthquake effect just because you can doesn't add any value to the movie.  Only use effects where it will enhance your story telling.
    • Test new effects before publishing them.  If you are trying a new effects open a new project and perfect it before you try to use it.  A failed effect is 10x worse than no effect.
  • Use the beats in the music to create natural transitions, but don't be too predictable by using every single beat to transition.
  • Go on YouTube for inspiration!  Before creating an edit I always cruise around YouTube or Vimeo for similar content.  It is very easy to pick up good ideas.
  • Have fun.  If you are stuck then walk away, drink a beer, sip some bourbon, and come back a different time or day, you will be surprised how much that can  help!

What's Next
Multiple timelapses from non-Wisconsin landscapes!!! YAY!  Hope this helps and if you have any question, your stuck, or need more help/advice on something feel free to comment, email, or send me a message via social media, I'm happy to help! Stay tuned and see you next week, thanks for reading.

Still balding but not bald,

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


This timelapse was taken with a f9 aperture / 250 iso / 1/8 exposure / 15" interval / Processed in Lightroom / RAW format / Nikkor 18-55mm lens set to 28mm / Polarizer and ND Filter

For my birthday I was given a multi colored block of ice with frozen money inside (thanks Jean!) with the intention to use it for a timelapse.  Since the gift was such an awesome idea I had to make sure I did something awesome with it!  How predictable and boring would it be to just simply watch a block of ice melt in a bowl?  Plus if my 6th grade art class taught me anything the mixture of yellow, green, blue, and red would make for nasty brown colored water.  This got me to is bitter cold out and well below freezing so how interesting would it be to watch an ice block filled with money melt in the middle of winter!  Clearly the first obstacle wasn't related to the timelapse at all, how would I get this ice to melt, fairly quickly, when it is 11 degrees out?

Fortunately I was stuffing my face with food while I was contemplating this issue when I noticed our wax diffuser.  For the best lighting and effect I needed a way to light up the ice block to bring out the colors and this would do just the thing.  Immediately upon setting it up I realized that the heat wasnt going to be enough (melting wax at room temp is much easier than ice in air below freezing).  The wax diffuser was melting the ice block however very slowly and my battery would only last a few hours.  This is where pouring large amounts of salt on top would come into play and why you saw the blue melting so quickly.  Time was all that was left and watching an iceblock melt in real time is pretty boring so this made for a perfect time for errands to be run.

Coming home to the iceblock in the snow and the camera dead was a huge disappointment and I was already saying it was a big failure of a timelapse, but clearly I lucked out because the clouds in the background and the blue streaks of water in the snow turned out pretty cool!

As far as the techniques go I really wanted to focus on the focal points and depth of the shot.  Just watching a block of ice melt makes it tough to gauge how much time is elapsed.  This is why clouds moving in the background would be so important.  Seeing the clouds whiz by allows the viewer to understand how much time is elapsing.  Looking at those objectives I definitely feel that I did a very great job but failed to melt the block fast enough before the battery died. Whomp whomp

Thoughts and What's Next?
I have taken a little break from struggling with LRTimelapse and deflickering the timelapses.  I'm doing this so that I can take a few weeks to focus on the photography aspect of timelapses.  The more I research and the more cinematic timelapses I watch it is apparent how amazing the pure photography skills are.  Understanding your scene, what the scene will do, how to best capture it and telling the story through pictures is what they excel at the most.  I recently read an article on timelapses and a statement really stuck out.  "Post-production can drastically change any image but there will always be a limit to what it can do.  Capturing the highest quality and best framed picture directly in the camera allows the limits of post-production to be that much more impactful." (

The lightbulb went off, I realized I need to stop worrying so much about how to fix the flaws in my photography and instead focus that extra energy into eliminating the errors.  By doing so I will be able to use post-production as just an extension of my creativity.

As always I greatly appreciate all of the support, excitement, and curiosity you guys bring to this.  It always makes my day when people tell me how they are excited for a new timelapse on Tuesday!  All of the encouragement really helps me drive harder for better results.

Still balding but not bald,