Timelapsing in Dubai…and other stuff! Edit: Now with film!

ETHICS STATEMENT: Kessler are my main site sponsor. Their stuff is the stuff of legends! Great, relatively affordable gear for timelapsing! Read more in my full ethics statement here. 

Courtesy of Jon Nash


Sorry for being all quiet on the western front (or middle eastern front!) but I have been up to my ears in a job in Dubai where I am timelapsing like crazy…actually my first fully timelapse commission. I’ve done lots of pro timelapse before but never JUST timelapse! I am only able to write this as am sick as a dog with food poisoning so I’m taking an enforced break! My brief is to shoot as many timelapses as I can! Well…with 5 cameras I can shoot A LOT!

I can’t say too much about it just yet other than what I am using…

I have 5 Canon DSLRs with me. 2 5DmkIIs. 2 7Ds and a 1DmkIV.

1 Vinten 100mm bowl Sticks to take the Kessler Revolution head and the Hercules head.

1 Miller Solo 3 stage with DS20 head. Great tripod and solid.

2 Gitzo tripods.

2 Delkin Fat Gecko suction mounts for sticking on windows.

1 Kessler Hercules 2.0 Head ESSENTIAL for those vertical slider moves and the new 2.0 version is so much lighter than version 1.

1 Kessler Revolution Head For motorised pans and tilts!

1 3 foot Philip Bloom Pocket Dolly 3 Foot is better for timelapse than 2 foot but it’s harder to balance, Hercules head comes in Very handy here.

1 5 Foot Cineslider A HUGE beast, but useful!

1 Kessler Outrigger Feet Used for ground mounting of slider on even surfaces…

1 Kessler All Terrain Outrigger Feet for REALLY uneven ground, like beaches, rocks etc

2 500 speed motors The speed needed to do vertical moves. The Torque of the 500 pushes that camera up!

2 Bescor Batteries To keep the whole lot powered.

1 splitter for Bescor To use a battery adaptor for the Canon at same time as powering the motor stuff.

3 Kessler Canon Battery Adaptor ESSENTIAL

2 AC Canon Adaptors

2 Lenskirts ESSENTIAL for shooting through windows and killing those reflections.

1 Canon 14mm F2.8

1 Tokina 11-16

1 Canon 17mm TS

1 Canon 24mm TS

1 Samyang 35mm F1.4

1 Canon 50mm F1.2

1 Canon 16-35mm F2.8

1 Canon 100-400mm

PHEW! Lot of gear. But I am doing A LOT of timelapsing. Pretty much 24/7, 5 cameras going in different positions.

Some of it was shot RAW but the majority was shot JPEG purely because I shot so many shots! So Large JPEG was order or the day with a nice flat PP of Marvels Cine. AV mode was done for all the big light changes and smoothed out in post in FCP 7 using Long Exposure by CHV electronics. I did have sound nasty old flicker which was sorted by this plug in. There are a few HDR timelapses done using photomatix pro.In the end I had 144 timelapses. Of which about 40 made it into the below edit.


Here is the edit of some of the shots I made during this trip. Called Abraj: Plural of Burj which is Arabic for Tower.

Abraj: The two towers of Dubai from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Abraj: Plural of Burj which is Arabic for Tower.

Timelapse video featuring the two iconic towers of Dubai. The Burj Al Arab and the world’s tallest building. The Burj Khalifa.

Commisioned to shoot various timelapses of the Emirate by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai. This is an edit I put together for myself of some of my favourite shots. Including some amazing views from 154 floors up on the Burj Khalifa.

Music is by Vaughan Williams: Variations on theme by Thomas Tallis

Below is a time-lapse film I made here two years ago…I think my new one is better! This one was my first ever timelapse film.

Some of the most useful little things I have with me are the Kessler Camera Battery Adaptors. I can power my 7D or 5DmkII off them with the Bescor batteries for DAYS! Add a splitter and you can power your Kessler motor at the same time. They’ve been very useful for those unmanned 24 hour shots. 

Other than that I of course have LOTS of cards. DON’T use the Duracell ones you see here. They are fine for stills but crap out on video on my DSLRs and the C300. Weird!

Data wrangling is tough as it’s just me keeping on top of it. So lots of offloading each night to 3 different hard drives. A G-TECH G-Raid and 2 Western Digital My Passports. Here is what my offload folder looks like at the moment! Software used was ShotPut Pro, which is the easiest way to offload to multiple destinations and error check.

Below are some of the frame grabs from some of them and two very short BTS…












Dubai Timelapse BTS 3 from Philip Bloom extras on Vimeo.

Third BTS of my timelapse adventures at Dubai.

Take two on the motorised timelapse. I like last night’s but I can do better!!


Whilst those 5 cameras were going I was talked into doing a SkyDive. Yep. A SkyDive. Not a big fan of heights but I guess you have to do it once right? Well I did. The SkyDiving bit was actually pretty incredible! Would I do it again? Am in no rush…Thankfully Jon Nash loaned me his GoPro 2 so I was able to get some cool footage! I was 2 and a half bloody miles up in the air!!!!



With Tony Augstinack, Jon Nash, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Ismaeil, Joseph Hutson
















  1. Wow very nice
    Can i ask you something?
    I use DSLR camera which is 5D mark 2.I do use Premiere pro cs5.5
    I’ve tried so many codecs for my master rendering.Which one is good one for DSLR footage.For example:DNXHD is good but after converted to H264,and uploaded on youtube it became bad.Avi lossless is also.quicktime none,cineform also.i use windows not mac..Can u tech me very good workflow please..
    Send me the MSG PLEASE

  2. Wow. That’s quite the project! Can’t wait to see the result.

    I was curious – with all the time-lapses you are shooting, over a few years, have you found that your shutters have worn out? I would imagine that if you are averaging 2000+ shots per time-lapse, and if the 1D mkIV is rated at 300,000 shutter cycles… that would mean you would get 150 time-lapses out of each camera body. Doesn’t seem like a whole lot. Have you had to replace/repair any cameras, simply from “shutter overuse”?

    1. I worried about this when I was doing a few timelapses on a recent holiday, though it was only using the 550D – which of course the shutter is less likely to last as long as professional camera, but I was working out how much each timelapse “cost”, a 2000 shot timelapse would cost £14. Looking back quite silly really as that doesn’t take in the use from video, or the fact it will probably last longer than stated 100,000 – but hey, your mind can wonder whilst a timelapse is clicking away.

    2. From what I read the higher end pro cameras last longer. A lot of the cheaper ones the shutters will break. However repairing a shutter is around 200 or 300 so its not to bad, not great but not bad.

      Right now the GH2 is the only camera that can use the electron shutter and there are two tricks to use it.

      Read the comments here.

      Lumix GH2 sky timelapse – electronic shutter


      By putting the GH2 in buster mode and using a intervalometer to trick the GH2 to take one photo you will only use the electric shutter.

      Here is another way to trick the GH2 but in a weird video mode.

      Timelapse with the Hacked GH2 – 2k anamorphic


      These tricks might work on other mirrorless cameras.

      Rumor has it that the GH3 might only have a electronic shutter only

  3. Sky diving is a lot of fun, but it’s so much better when you jump alone, by yourself. Next time you come to mallorca we could jump somwhere, there are some stonishing views to be seen over the island.
    Nice report anyways.
    On a side note, anything about the new Nikon D4 and its clean HDMI out?

  4. F**** hell rather you than me!

    Ta for taking the time out to let us know what you are up to. Looking forward to seeing some of the end result if you are able to post it and also hopefully a bit of tech info such as aperture / shutter mode etc


      1. Hi Phillip – I see that you’ve moved from your Miller DS-20 head to a Compass 20. I’m wondering about the switch, or the addition. I’ve got a DS-10 and find that it’s great for my 7D rig, but not robust enough for the FS100 with a Zacuto baseplate, follow focus and z-finder. Is there one Miller head that you’d suggest that can handle both ends of the weight spectrum?

        I’m considering the DS-20 and the Compass 12 – both on carbon fiber solo sticks. Any thoughts?

        Many Thanks

  5. Similar to the Skywalker Ranch and other very long time lapses, how do you deal with leaving your cameras unmanned? Are most shots just shot off hotel balconies or do you hide cameras (crazy nervous!) when outdoors – or is there an assistant who has to stand by for 10 hours?! I am also wondering whether for the SkyWalker Ranch shots (wrong thread I know), whether the cold and frost was a problem on camera as am looking to do one this winter in UK. Kudos for filming bts with food poisoning! Urgh.

  6. Hey Phillip – how are you sorting out your exposures for the day-evening-night timelapses? Guessing you are shooting on aperture priority and letting the exposures sort themselves out? If so does that not leave you with overexposed night time shots?

  7. Nice post, I’m a big fan of your work, I hope one day to arrive to a similar level.
    One question about the timelapses, how do you do the night to day transition? Do you shoot in automatic and then deflicker or do you shoot all manual, or with an external exposimeter and shutter time controller?

  8. Bit off topic but…have you seen the specs and pics of the Fuji X-Pro 1? And the lenses…dear god the lenses!

    You’ve got your Leica so it might not mean much to you, but the first proper affordable APS-C mirrorless…Canon, Nikon: your move.

  9. Hey Philip…I am a Canadian vfx artist based in dubai and I use my Canon 5d a lot for my work, of late. Was wondering if you’re still in town and if at all it is possible to meet with you. Also, If I can be of any assistance shootwise or post production, I’d be glad to. Cheers and have a good one. 🙂

  10. I must have spent a day looking for the interval shooting menu on the 7d, that’s one of the features I miss about my old nikons.

    I’m going to need to refresh myself on your time lapse tutorials, so many questions.

    -what interval to use for day shooting, how do you handle a tl that goes from day to night without losing exposure, what the heebeejeebee white balance do I use for night long exposure, what kind of wine do I serve with pork…..so many questions!!! 🙂

    P.s. jumping out of planes is more fun when you have 100lbs of gear and a m16a2 on your chest,it’s about as much fun as jumping out of a 2 story window! Haha

  11. Absolutely ADORING what you’re doing here, Philip. Beautiful as ever. Thanks for the Kessler battery adapter reccomend! Was dilly-dallying over a couple. Am deffo going for that one not that it’s got the Bloom stamp of approval ;D

    1. Absolutely ADORING what you’re doing here, Philip. Beautiful as ever. Thanks for the Kessler battery adapter reccomend! Was dilly-dallying over a couple. Am deffo going for that one now that it’s got the Bloom stamp of approval ;D

  12. PB – So jealous!! Skydiving in Dubai?? Looked totally awesome!
    Random question: What camera equipment insurance do you have? I just had all my gear stolen just before Christmas 2011. I’m still in shock. Any advice? Thank you so much!

  13. Cannot wait to see the Dubai timelapse! I’m supposed to go skydiving this Spring, when the weather warms a bit, can’t wait! That was an interesting little hand mount for the GoPro2, do you know what it was or who makes it?

  14. great work Philip. having lived in dubai for 3years now. if ever, how did you deal with the hazey skyline? not so much from smog but from the sand. you came during winter time? so the skies for the most part are always blue this time of year.

  15. Abraj… I don’t know – maybe it’s the white wine kicking in, but I think you have a bit of a masterpiece here. At the risk of sounding like a fanboy – impeccable blend of cinematography and musicianship.

    Cheers Philip.

  16. Awesome timelapse, Philip! Really inspiring!

    I was wondering if you could share a bit more about the post-processing?

    Do you edit the stills or edit the ProRes file (assuming you did some post processing on the images)?

    Any particular style you shot the stills with?

  17. After seeing your collection of CF cards, I wanted to ask which cards you used for your C300 test when you were in France as I’m trying to determine whether the Transcend 32GB cards would work well with this camera. Canon mention in their C300 FAQ that any cards other than Sandisk are not guaranteed to sustain the necessary data rate for slow motion but I was wondering if you can give a definitive answer as they are so much cheaper than Sandisk Extremes! Do you know? Also, are the Transcend 32GBs reliable with a 5D/7D in video mode? Thanks and amazed by the time-lapses!

  18. That’s why I follow your work and why it’s so inspirational for me…
    Beside being passionate you always feel the need to share the whole process, not hiding any tricks or secrets. And that’s how it should be… Connecting with the viewers… I’m learning a lot here, thanks Phillip…

  19. Thank you for the blog post. Timelapses are so much in fashion now but I remember the first one I saw that was shot on 70mm film! Later it was used in an a-ha video. The film is called “A Year along the Abandoned Road” (“Året gjennom Børfjord”) by Morten Skallerud from 1991!

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