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One Commercial, Three Different Time-lapse Techniques

By Hanssie on July 6th 2015

Commercials as I knew them as a child are pretty much a thing of the past. With the advent of DVRs and social media, the days where consumers were forced to endure 30-second ads in between our sitcoms are no longer. In their place, we are bombarded with commercials in other mediums – through social media influencers, YouTube ads, strategic product placements in and around our favorite shows, and more. Commercials are still prevalent in TV (though most people have the ability to fast forward through them), and most of the time, viewers never actually appreciate the efforts placed into making them – unless it’s the Super Bowl, with which expectations skyrocket.


The production that goes into such a short piece can be quite extensive and take many months of planning and filming, such is the commercial made for Air New Zealand that you’ll see below. Air New Zealand contacted Ben Ryan, Director and Founder at Syrp (makers of some of our favorite motion control and time-lapse products including the Genie) and commissioned them to create a video to promote the upcoming winter ski season in New Zealand. They wanted a long term time-lapse that would “to entice people from over the ditch (that’s Australia) to head on over for an epic holiday.

As time-lapse videos have become more popular and have flooded YouTube and vimeo, Ryan wanted to do something different to add a bit more to the story. He wanted to show the main character walking through the changing seasons. To do so, they planned on combining three different time-lapse techniques in three different shoots to include long-term time-lapse, motion control time-lapse and VFX time-lapse.

Watch A Winter Transition for Air New Zealand

Technique 1: Long-Term Time-lapse

For the long-term time-lapse, the team used rigs by PhotoSentinel. Two cameras were set up in two different locations – one in Arrowtown which would show the changing color of the leaves and the other up on the mountain to show the incoming snow. For four months, photos were taken every 50 minutes. Looking back, Ryan says he wished they would’ve set it up to take an image every 20 minutes to give them more breathing room. Each setup had a Canon 6D with a Samyang 24mm set to Aperture Priority to accommodate the drastically changing light conditions. Attaching the cameras to posts as to not get blown away and powered from solar panels, they shot in both JPEG and RAW so the team could access the footage daily from the PhotoSentinel online server to stay on top of the post processing.

Technique 2: VFX Time-lapse

In the storyboards, the character was shown in real time while the backgrounds were ‘time-lapsing.’ Using two Syrp Genies synced on a Magic Carpet Slider to create some subtle movement, they first shot the scene in real-time and returned to shoot the same location in  time-lapse to give the scene a sense that time was passing.

[REWIND: Syrp Genie Timelapse & Video  Motion Control Review | Incredible Versatility and Reliability]

Syrp- 2-axis BTS Lake Hayes

Technique 3: Motion Control Time-lapse

Using the Syrp Genie, Genie Mini and Syrp Slingshot to shoot the motion control sequences in one long cable cam move, they shot both the lake and forest time-lapse sequences in one day. To create a 2-axis effect for the camera movement, the Syrp Genie and Mini were synced together so they could communicate with each other. The Syrp slingshot, designed for shots like the lake shot you see in the video, was used so they could pan around the trees in the foreground and move 40m along the cable setup.

Watch the work that went into the 1 minute commercial, with a few scenes that did not make it into the final product.

Watch “The Making of Our ‘Winter Transition’ Video” 

Gear Used

BTS Cable Cam Air NZ.3


  • Client: Air New Zealand
  • Film direction: Ben Ryan
  • Production: Nick Hyne + Ben Ryan
  • Field Producer: Nick Hyne
  • Time-lapse photographer: Ben Ryan and Heath Patterson
  • DOP: Heath Patterson
  • Additional Cinematography: Josh Wallace
  • Talent: Harry Pettit
  • BTS: Josh Hutchinson, James Holman
  • Post production / color grading: Matthijs Blok
  • Editing: Ben Ryan
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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Jordan Foster

    seems like a fun project to be involved in

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  2. carl rug

    This is being creative

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  3. Colin Woods

    Amazing, but I still hate ads.

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  4. Peter Nord

    Some people are just smart and talented.

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