blog interview – michael rissi’s swiss winter time lapse


While I was cutting and color grading hot bodies on beaches in bikinis for Travel Channel, Michael Rissi was freezing his ass off making this epic time lapse of winter in Switzerland.  Click on the above pic for a link to his website.

Michael was kind enough to answer a few questions for me, so here ya go:

ME: So Michael, your HD time lapse photography is stunning. What cameras are you shooting with to bring this imagery to life?

MICHAEL: I have a Canon 400D (Digital Rebel XTi) and since 2009 also a Canon 50D. I was a little afraid that after around 200k shutters, the 400D’s shutter might fail at any unfavorable time… As lenses I have the wide angle Sigma 10-20 and the Sigma 17-70.

What is your approach to framing and exposing your time lapse photos?

I like wide angles a lot, as I shoot mostly landscapes. But as in landscape photography, finding the right subject is not trivial, people (me as well) tend to try to fit to much onto their images. Wide angles, however, allow in the post production smooth pans and zooms.

What software applications are part of your toolkit to produce these HD time lapses?

I always shoot in raw (or sraw), with the result that I filled a 1TB disk in about 3-4 months… Usually, I use Adobe’s Camera Raw for the raw images, or directly photomatix when I create an HDR time lapse and then tone mapping with Photomatix. After camera raw/photomatix I rerun the images through Photoshop to correct the colors, remove dust spots if necessary, apply a tone curve or in case of winter time lapses, I also “whiten” the snow slightly. Then I save all images as jpgs and import them into Adobe Premiere Elements (the poor man’s solution).

The most important filter is the deflicker plugin (gbdeflicker). Flickering is a big issue in digital time lapses, especially for HDR processing. I save the movie as quicktime with H.264 1920x1080p. Apple somehow has another definition for the gamma value, so I correct this with Quick Time Pro (explained here)

How did you achieve such smooth zooms and pans? It looks like you do this in post from where I sit, am I correct?

The zooms and pans are done in post with Premiere Elements. That’s why I usually shoot with the wide angle.

As an accomplished HD time lapse producer, what other time lapse videos have inspired you?

I came to shooting time lapse movies from photography. I saw on YouTube the great tutorials and movies from milapse

…and knew that I want to do that too! Last spring, I found the time lapse forum timescapes.org. This is a great forum with awesome people, who have impressive ideas and technical skills, it’s really astonishing! And for sure, I also like the movies from Reggio, mostly Koyaanisqatsi…

and Fricke’s Baraka

What’s the next time lapse you think you will produce?

In my “real” life, I write my phd thesis about gamma ray astronomy. This involves travels to the Canary Island La Palma, where our telescope is situated on top of the volcano (in a rather remote area on 2500 m). I already made last year time lapses from the moving telescope at night…

…but I have lots of ideas for improvements. We also built a second telescope, so I hope to be able to shoot them dancing in stereo. The whole island of La Palma is a great place for shooting time lapses, with very interesting cloud formations, so I hope I will collect lots of footage there!

Another ongoing project is the one from Zurich, where I shoot every day 10 minutes at around 7:45am the same view onto Zurich.

Thanks again for giving me the heads up on your new time lapse Michael, it’s breathtaking. Great choice of music and superior pacing and editing.

Thanks a lot Peter, great that you liked it!

proactively • the pilot episode of blog interviews • peter

2 Responses to “blog interview – michael rissi’s swiss winter time lapse”

  1. September 24, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    Good…Thank for the new knowledge.It is present just enoughly,I like this.Thank very much.
    Hey… you have a great blog here! I’m definitely going to bookmark you! Thank you for your info.And this is Compare Canon Rebel SLR Camera site/blog. It pretty much covers Best Canon Rebel SLR camera related stuff.

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