Nature Notes

February 9, 2009

Making an HD HDR Video-Heart of the City

Filed under: Cityscape,HDR,Processing Tips,Timelapse — Tags: , , , — Harold Stiver @ 2:46 pm

Toronto- Heart of the City
from Harold Stiver on Vimeo.

This video can be viewed in HD and full screen by clicking on the link “Toronto-Heart of the City” above and then clicking on the Full screen icon on the bottom right of the video there.

Following is the process I used to shoot and process the above HD (High Definition) HDR (High Dynamic Range) Video.


I used a Canon 5D2 with a 17-40mm lens in AV mode. The file quality was set for sRAW2 which is 2784 pixels wide, sufficient to create HD Video. Since there may be some flicker between the frames when the lens is not shot wide open, it was set at f/4. ISO was set at at 200 in order to minimize noise created in HDR processing. I used a solid tripod screwed tight. An Aperture Remote Timer (Intervalometer) was set for a 10 second interval between shots. The review screen on the camera was turned off.

I planned to shoot about 800 frames and a result of 50 seconds of video.

HDR Processing

I used Photomatix to batch process Single File Conversions to HDR files at the default settings which provided a realistic look. This took about 8 hours of processing time. These were then Batch Processed to 8 Bit TIFFS which took another 4 hours of processing.

Processing Frames in Photoshop

I recorded a Photoshop Action to apply to the files. For this video I re-sized it to 1280 by 720 pixels and  I also applied a bit of curves to increase contrast.If needed, I could also have done things like dust and noise removal. This took another hour of processing time.

Compiling and Rendering

The files were brought into Sony Vegas, and compiled with credits and music before rendering as HD WMV. This was then uploaded to Vimeo.

Some Thoughts

Photomatix occasionally stopped saving TIFF output and had to be re-started. On its own, it was not a big problem, but I had initially batched a conversion to HDR files and a tonemapping to 8 Bit TIFF to run overnight. When it stopped saving TIFF output (Memory leak?), it erased all of the files, which was very annoying. I subsequently did the conversion in two steps, one to HDR, then one to TIFF output to avoid this. You may want to consider this if you use Photomatix.

If you happen to be using sRAW2 files, make sure you are updated to at least Photomatix 3.1.3.

All Images are Available for Licensing at Singular Video&Pix

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  1. Hi Harold. Followed the link from Photosig. Just amazing great minute of joy, loved the music as well.
    BTW if starting out what would be your firt L lens to buy the 17-40 L4??

    Regards, Thanks for share the full “enchilada”

    Comment by Oscar — February 10, 2009 @ 1:01 pm

  2. Thanks Oscar.

    It depends what you prefer to shoot as to what lens but it is very versatile and I use it a lot. I occasionally hear complaints about it but I love it.

    Cheers, Harold

    Comment by Harold — February 10, 2009 @ 9:00 pm

  3. well done Harold and kind of you to post the ‘behind the scenes’ info!


    Comment by Ken — February 11, 2009 @ 10:30 am

  4. Thanks for the message Ken


    Comment by Harold — February 11, 2009 @ 5:22 pm

  5. Hi Harold,

    I’m not sure if you still check up on this but are you able to batch 5 different exposures together if they are in separate folders? I have 5 folders with images corresponding with the name of the folders (+4,+2,0,-2.-4). Is there a way that I can use Photomatix to batch these files together automatically into a Master folder? Or do I have to manually put them together?



    Comment by Brandon — October 31, 2010 @ 11:51 pm

  6. Hi Brandon,

    I think Photomatix only does processing on one directory. It works by taking the first x number of images at a time (where x is set by you ie. 5), and deals with the files sorted in alphabetical order (the default for windows). If you copy all the files into one directory, and they are in the right order already, then you are all set. If not, you will need to rename them.

    I don’t know if you have a copy of Photomatix, but, if not, there is a trial available ( which you could test things with.

    Good luck, Harold

    Comment by Harold — November 1, 2010 @ 11:55 am

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