Thursday, January 13, 2011

How to Create a "faux" Tilt-Shift Time Lapse Sequence Using CS5

Click on Image to Preview Video

I've done many time lapse video sequences, and also have used Photoshop to create a faux tilt-shift photo, but decided to try and mix the two. If you're a person who doesn’t want to drop a ton of money into a nice tilt-shift lens for your dSLR, Adobe Photoshop has the ability to mimic these types of shots. The problem with time lapse photography, is you end up with hundreds, if not thousands of images that go into the video. To individually process the faux tilt-shift style to all of these images would take forever. This is where Photoshop shines. This tutorial will show you the steps involved in creating the Tilt-shift effects to an image, and then show you how to record and create an Action to use on subsequent images. Then we'll review the Batch option to process the entire folder of images. The final step is to create the time lapse sequence in Adobe After Effects, but you can also use other software to accomplish this.

Part I: Photoshop

Step One: How to use Photoshop to create a faux tilt-shift image

  • Please note that we'll go through the process of creating the effect for one image, and then we'll learn how to use the batch automation to complete this processing on a whole folder of images.
  • The images will need to be part of a sequence to properly import into After Effects. If they are not sequentially named now, you should rename the images to a separate folder during the batch process.

: Open the image in Photoshop



: Go into QuickMask mode by pressing "Q" or by clicking on the quickmast toolbar icon.

:Select the Gradient tool by pressing "G" or choosing it from the toolbar.

: Ensure that you select the Reflected Gradient

: Experiment by dragging the gradient tool from about mid-screen downwards a bit. The longer you stretch the gradient, the more of the image that will be in focus. The shorter you drag it, less will be in focus. Each image will be different, but for this example, I chose to ensure that where the Bride and Groom will be standing needs to be in focus.

: You will see the red tone that is created by the quickmask.

:Press "Q" to exit QuickMask mode, and you'll see the highlight boxes (Ant's Marching) around the selection based upon how you dragged the gradient tool.

: Under the Filter menu, go to Blur, and select Lens Blur.

: After the lens blur filter is finished, let's modifiy the Vibrance of the image. Under the Image menu, go to Adjustments, and select Vibrance.
: The numbers I chose are personal preference, but maybe a good starting point for you.


: Next, Under the Image Menu, go to Adjustments and then select Curves.


: When the Curves dialog box appears, create a subtle "S" as illustrated below. Again, this can be modified to your preference.

  • You should now have a single image that recreates a Tilt-Shift type of shot. Experiment with the settings above until you have something you feel is ready for the next steps. Go ahead and close that image without saving, as you'll be creating an action to recreate all the steps listed above.

Step 2: Record a Photoshop Action

:Click the new Action icon under the Actions menu and name it Faux Tilt Shift.

:Repeat the steps above in photoshop while the action is "recording." Click the stop button after you are finished. Now you can create a tilt shift effect on any image with the click on a single button. Next, we'll create a batch job to run this action on an entire folder of images.

Step 3: Create an Automated Batch Job

:Under the File menu, find Automate and select Batch.


:Ensure that Faux Tilt Shift, or whatever you named your action is selected under the play section. Choose the folder with the original images for the source. Under Destination, create and select a different folder for these modified images to be saved. If the original images were not named with a sequence number, it's a good idea to add that into the destination name so it will be easier to create the Time Lapse sequence.


:Wait for the Batch job to finish, and it could take a while if you have a big folder of images to process. The time lapse posted above took over 12 hours to finish, and this will be different for everyone based upon the original size of the images and the processing and memory power of your computer.

Part II: Creating a Time Lapse in Adobe After Affects (Coming Soon)



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