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  • Writer's pictureColin Rich

Making VFX Magic - Shooting Time-Lapse VFX Plates for Ciara ft. Coast Contra "Jump"

24 hours of planning, 2 hours of scouting, 8 hours of shooting for 3 seconds of magic.

A gif shot of Ciara with a time-lapse day to night transition in the background.
When the Sun Sets, the Sparks Fly,


I received a call from Producer Stephan Bielecki from Freenjoy inquiring about a time-lapse shot for an upcoming music video. "We need a time-lapse. A day to night transition in Los Angeles. Can you do that?" I replied in the affirmative thinking maybe he was looking for some stock footage or something of mine he'd seen on vimeo or instagram.

Ciara dances on a telephone wire, then jumps off, falling through a portal that transports her to a day to night transition of Downtown Los Angeles
Jumping into LA

This night to day transition takes us from the glitzy evening of Los Angeles to a Sunrise where she dances and sings to the camera
Night to Day - This transition used the longer version of the shot where the sun can be seen (it was reversed to make it a sunrise)

A couple minutes later, I was on the phone with DP Scott Cunningham You've probably seen his work (Billie Eilish - Bad Guy, Harry Styles - Falling, Kendrick Lamar - Humble). Scott's work is supreme, visual eye-candy, which has earned him accolades and when he's teamed up with Director Dave Myers, the two of them build incredible worlds.

Scott was looking for a shot that could "set off a spark", blending the city with foreground elements of Ciara dancing with braided sparklers. It would be a transformational part of the video so it needed to be killer.

Dual A7R IV Time-Lapse Setups
Dual A7R IV Time-Lapse Setups

I got to work prepping cameras. For this shoot, I needed resolution so I picked Sony's A7R IV and G Master lenses, Arca Swiss Cubes, and IDX V-Mount Batteries for the long haul energy solution.

I did a preliminary light study using Photo Pills and Google Earth (as they already had the location picked out). The next day I drove down to Los Angeles to meet with Scott and Director Dave Myers on set to go over the shot setup and line-up framing then over the course of the next 8 hours, shot the transition of day into night.

I manually controlled my exposures, locking off at T5.6-8 split and built an over under rig for my 2 A7r IV's so as to line-up a similar field of view for redundancy.

Colin Rich wearing a sun hat
Wear a hat folks! A must for day to night shots.

The shots went off without a hitch and exposure wise, I ended up with something somewhat natural looking as far as day to night transitions go. You can push the A7RIV about 2 stops in post before you start seeing some grain issues and need to introduce noise reducers.

The next day, I did exposure smoothing through LRTimelapse and sent a built DNG sequence to the post house.

All in all I would say it was a great success. Check out 'Jump' by Ciara featuring Coast Contra below.


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