Exploring Hyperlapse Mobile, building in Movie Creator

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Launched yesterday, Hyperlapse Mobile is already proving an interesting video utility, though I thought it worth pointing out some caveats and tips based on my own experiences so far. In short, it's still something of a novelty, but there's a lot of fun to be had and fully edited and polished hyperlapses can be rendered and then stitched/edited entirely on your Windows Phone.

Just to give you a flavour of what you can do with 30 minutes of spare time(!), here's the finished video, shot in Hyperlapse Mobile on the Lumia 930 and edited in Microsoft Movie Creator on the 930:

All of which looks reasonably polished for phone-shot time lapse video, especially all rendered on the device too, though there are quite a few things that I learned which you should be aware of:

  • If you're shooting multiple hyperlapses in one session/event, you have to decide what 'speed' to save each out at before moving onto the next, since the original footage gets lost each time. If in doubt, based on the on-screen previews, save out in a couple of possible speeds, just in case, and you can decide which MP4 to use later on.
  • When choosing what speed to save at, consider the content and how fast the action's changing. For example, 4x worked well for me walking above, 8x for the trains and 16x for the traffic - it will depend on what effect you want to create and how fast it (or your vantage point) is moving!
  • The maximum resolution, even on the top end 4K-capable devices, is 720p, due to the way frames are captured at 4 times slower/faster (depending on how you look at it!) than usual. If you import a 4K clip into Hyperlapse Mobile then it'll immediately get downsampled into 720p. So don't expect massive video quality.
  • Footage shot with the front facing camera will be in 'hyperfocal' territory, i.e. there's no specific focus. So if you shoot yourself at arms length then you'll be slightly out of focus. With the rear camera in use, tapping on a spot sets the focus for that hyperlapse capture, which is handy for macro work (see the example above, near the end).
  • If you're intending to do what I did and use multiple clips then you'll want to trim off the ends of the Hyperlapse clips, since they have a Microsoft logo and watermark that lasts for several seconds.
  • Although walking along and filming yourself with the FFC seems like an ideal use, the focus issue mentioned above plus the jolting around means that footage is likely to be jerky and slightly blurry. Example clips shot on the back of carts, rides and buses (etc.) show a camera position slightly further away, though if someone else is holding the phone then they might as well use the rear camera and focus properly. Experiment, anyway. It might even come down to how long your arms are and how steady you can hold the device!
  • Saved Hyperlapse videos appear in their own folder under 'Pictures' on the phone's file system. These can be worked on directly, shared online and accessed on a PC via cable, but note that they don't appear in Nokia Photo Transfer on the Mac, should you want to work on them there. The easiest workflow is to edit directly on the phone, as I did, in Movie Creator, and then share from there.

In terms of ideas and content, almost anything works for Hyperlapse Mobile, but it's best to have an idea of what you want before you start shooting. And if you really haven't a clue what you'll use and what you won't, or in what way, then just go out and shoot a bunch of 720p video in Lumia Camera and then you'll have all this saved, ready for importing later on, with no risk of losing everything. Above, I was having to discard footage after each speed-saving decision. A risky strategy, but then it was just a demo video for readers - your video may be more important!

PS. It goes without saying but don't film and drive - I was trying something jury rigged, part held, part braced - far better and safer to get someone else to drive while you hold/steady the camera phone!