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An Inside Look at Filippo Rivetti’s Amazing Time-Lapse Techniques

by Topher Kelly
photo & video

Tiny Sydney from Filippo Rivetti on Vimeo.

It’s fair to say that we are living in a golden era of time-lapse videography. DSLRs have completely changed the game, giving anyone with a mid-ranged budget the ability to produce professional quality footage with minimal equipment. For this reason alone, its popularity has soared. From Selina Miles‘ intense graffiti explorations to Joe Nafis’ cityscapes, time-lapses let us live vicariously through the artists’ lens. It’s a view that creates envy and a desire to travel and experience it all in person. One artist leading the envy train is Filippo Rivetti – an Italian-born artist and creator of one of our favorite time-lapses Tiny Sydney.

Here’s our interview with the up-and-coming time-lapse artist and landscape photographer:

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How did you begin your journey as a time-lapse artist? Did you have a mentor?

My passion has always been photography, so I guess it was only natural for me to move into time-lapse photography! Coming from a technical background (I’m an engineer), I appreciate all the technicalities involved, and it creates that expectation that is almost lost in modern digital photography: you never know for sure if you captured a great sequence (or anything at all) until you get back home and put it together! I guess the inspiration came from the very first time-lapses I saw as a kid in documentaries. When I got into photography I started to try out the technique and soon got hooked on!

Do you storyboard your videos before your shoot or evaluate the footage and go from there?

It depends on the project: I usually have an idea in my mind that I expand and work on while shooting on site. But other times I start with writing down a small script and then a storyboard to better visualize what kind of sequences I need.

Do you have tips for others who are trying to do what you do so well – showcase the unique character of each location.

All the “rules” that work for landscape photography apply of course to a landscape time-lapse as well. So I would say first learn to take a great landscape photo and then think about how it could be improved by adding movement and showing the passing of time.

How can the everyday traveller experience the unique perspective you capture?

For me traveling and photography are two sides of the same coin: usually the latter is the excuse for the former and vice versa! I always travel with my camera and I’m always looking for interesting perspectives. This means to let yourself be absorbed in the surroundings and find the inspiration.

How do you decide where to shoot?

When traveling to new places I just love to explore and find the perfect locations for the perfect light and possibly an unique point of view. I’m always checking the sun/moon rise and set times and positions and move accordingly. I get some inspiration from other pictures before leaving and I mark down few spots I have to visit.

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What is is about landscape – and outdoor photography in general – that interests you? By the looks of it, you don’t spend much time in a studio 🙂

I love the outdoors and nature and the feeling of being in a place where not many other people have been, and I try to share this passion through my photography. If I could I would always be out there!

How have your personal projects spurred professional work for you?

I spent a lot of time trying to turn my passion into something more, and eventually I got noticed and one thing led to another…

With time-lapse it all started with Time To Sydney, a personal project that took me almost 6 months to complete: I wanted to show the beautiful city I live in and at the same time to showcase all the possible techniques (hyper-lapse, day to night transitions, motion-control time-lapses and so on and mixing them together).

You’ve recently got into teaching your techniques. What have you gained/ learned from that experience?

A more orderly way to shoot and post-process my sequences. When you start teaching somebody else what you usually take for granted you actually stop and think more in details about how you are doing what you are doing, and thereby you can find flaws in your workflow and learn how to improve it.

Dancing Lights – Lofoten from Filippo Rivetti on Vimeo.

What do you carry with you on the road for a time-lapse shoot?

Too much! Ideally all of the normal photographic equipment, a motorized dolly and pan/tilt head, two sturdy tripods and all the other accessories. When hiking everything has to be optimized, so it’s just one camera and one lens, one tripod and the dolly. Unless I’m doing hyper-lapses, than it’s just camera and tripod!

Where can we find out more about you and your work?

Website: www.filipporivetti.com

Vimeo: www.vimeo.com/filipporivetti

Facebook www.facebook.com/FilippoRivettiPhotography

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Topher Kelly

Topher Kelly is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and editor at CreativeLive. Follow Topher on Twitter@Topher_LIVE.