Timelapse Tilt-Shift Effect Tutorial

The miniature tilt-shift effect works fantastically well in timelapse photography. The usual way to create this miniature effect is to use a tilt-shift lens; however, these lenses are expensive. It’s much easier to create this effect in post-production using Adobe Premier, Photoshop, and After Effects. Rob Nelson explains how:

The trick to shooting this miniature effect is to shoot from an elevated angle to ensure that everything you look down upon from that height appears small. You can then change the depth of field in post-processing to render the miniature effect.

How to produce a time-lapse with a miniature tilt-shift effect

Shoot from an elevated angle.

Another thing to keep in mind is that everything must be in focus so that later on you can narrow down the depth of field in post-production.

Miniature tilt-shift effect

Nelson does this using Final Cut Pro. The depth of field is cut right through the middle of the frame.

The next step is to go to Effects > Blur and select the appropriate blur effect and drag that on to your clip.

miniature tilt-shift effect time-lapse

You can drag this around and select one particular area to be in focus. You can also change the settings around to fine tune the selection—such as height, width, softness, and the amount of the effect.

miniature tilt-shift imagery

We have already learned that an elevated angle is best for this type of shoot. But are there any caveats that we need to keep an eye out for? Are there any angles that might not work? If you’re shooting something from eye level, it’s likely not going to work. The trick is to shoot from three or four stories up—or even higher up—and then shoot down from an angle.

If you try out this technique, we’d love to see your results!

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