New Timelapses, from Asia, Available Through National Geographic Creative

I’m pleased to share with you a recent interview with my agency, National Geographic Creative, on the role that timelapses and hyperlapses have played in my recent work for commercial clients.

While not the main focus of my work, they offer a unique and interesting way to communicate some of the dynamic changes we are seeing here in Asia.

To see more of my library of available footage, click here.

Here’s the interview:

-How have you seen the use and need for video in the overall media industry change over the past few years?

“The biggest change I have seen is the overwhelming demand for video for online content and productions. As technology has changed, it has become easier to host and view video online, whether hosted independently on websites, or shared through social media. This has encouraged and empowered clients to use video in new and exciting ways to reach their audiences. This has only really come about because of recent technological advances. The key now is to provide exciting and dynamic content that can help meet clients’ needs and demands.”

-What is it about video that brings a new energy to a subject you are covering vs. stills?

I originally started out as a stills photographer, but I have been drawn to motion as it offered new ways in which to tell my stories. Video allows me to communicate a narrative that offers a more vivid account of what I am trying to cover. I love both mediums and I now enjoy combining both stills and video in my projects, harnessing the strengths and power of both to round out the message I am trying to give.

-Do you toggle between stills and video on shoots or set out to do one or the other on a given day?

My shooting approach depends on the requirements of the assignment and/or story I am working. Sometimes, photos have priority over stills, or vice versa. That depends on the priority of the client. If there is no specific priority, then I will shoot both.

Every photographer has their own approach to shooting, but typically, I will focus on the stills first, then record video and finally set up time lapses. I try to be very methodical in my approach so that I am creating complementary assets in different mediums that can work to tell the story in different ways, giving my clients multiple options to choose from.

National Geographic Creative Timelapses

-We are featuring your time lapse/hyper lapse clips. Can you explain the difference between the two and when you think it is better to use one or the other?

These two techniques are creative ways in which you can visually represent movement. When shooting a time lapse, you are ‘speeding up’ life, condensing events that normally take place over a long time period, into a shorter one. This can be very effective when trying to communicate a theme like ‘change’, or ‘fast paced’, as you often show your subjects like people or traffic, moving through a particular space.

Time lapses are typically made from one static point of view, a hyper lapse moves you through a space, for example from the viewpoint of a car traveling along a road. Both are very effective techniques when trying to communicate messages such as ‘development’, ‘modernity’, ‘change’ etc. Choosing which to employ depends on the shoot and the message that my client is trying to communicate.

– What draws you to this style of video? You are based in Beijing. Is it the energy of this and other Asian cities that only this technique/style can capture?

I have been based in Asia for almost a decade and I feel that the pace of change across the continent has been increasing. In places like China, it is truly breathtaking to experience and you almost feel like it’s changing right before your eyes.

Video, especially time lapses and hyper lapses, have allowed me to communicate that change for my clients, often highlighting the relentless dynamism of this continent and the ever changing nature of its numerous cultures.

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  1. Thanks for posting this Sean. As a photojournalist who is also trying to find the balance between multiple media, this reflected a lot of my own thoughts. As I get further into my first serious project combining both photo and video, it gets more clear just how different the two are.

    Kudos to you for doing both well at the same time. The Toxic Price of Leather, in particular, was a great short film. Looking forward to the next one.

    • Hi Luc,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Yes, the transition can be tricky and video is indeed a whole different medium. In a way you have to retrain yourself but we have a lots of advantages coming from the initial standpoint as stills photographers. Just takes time to find your voice using both. Take the plunge and just keep trying to make the next project better than the last.

      Good luck with your own work.


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