How to use Hyperlapse videos to explain data

hyperlapse wide

When Colorado State announced it would be providing cost-of-attendance stipends for student-athletes last month, it gave me the opportunity to test a video idea I’d been wanting to for a while.

I’m not much of an artist — and my handwriting is rooster scratch — but to simplify an explanation of data, using a dry erase board is a perfect method. Ideally, having a flash-animator for infographics in house would be more aesthetically pleasing, but sometimes you have to make do.

What you need:

  • A well-lit room
  • A dry erase board
  • Markers and an eraser (duh)
  • An iPhone with the free Hyperlapse app installed
  • A tripod
  • iMovie for iPhone

Once you have everything setup, you’re going to want your tripod to be close to the dry erase board since the iPhone’s camera lens is a wide angle and zooming will deteriorate the picture quality. Next, mark the corners of your frame so that you’re always drawing in an area the camera is capturing. Note that what’s actually being captured by the Hyperlapse app is an area slightly wider than what shows in your viewfinder.

From there, you’re ready to record.

You don’t need a script to recite verbatim, but know what you’re going to say and brainstorm ahead of time ways you can show what you’re saying visually with simple pie charts, numbers, drawings and “clever” use of space. For example, to list off the full-scholarship sports in my video (embedded below), I drew a football, erased it, then just made a circle for volleyball, which became a tennis ball with two lines drawn within it and then a basketball with two more lines. Erasing the lines and drawing dots within the circle made it a golf ball.

When composing your video on the dry erase board, take your time. There’s no reason to rush what you’re doing because everything is sped up. Do a couple of test runs on your first “slide” to give yourself a good feel for timing and what speed you want the Hyperlapse to save at. The default is 6x (six times faster than real time). I used 4x. You don’t need your entire video to be in a single take, but make sure when exporting clips from Hyperlapse, you’re using the same speed. You don’t want one video to be at 4x and another to be at 8x. Both are fast, but you’ll easily notice the difference in speed.

IMPORTANT! When composing your video on the dry erase board, don’t rush from one item to the next. You’re going to be adding a voice over in iMovie when you’re done. Pause between bullet points (as an example) you write on the board. It gives the viewer time to take in the information and gives you time to not rush your words.

After you’ve exported all of your Hyperlapse clips to your camera roll, open iMovie, create a new project and import your clips in order. From there, all that’s left to do is record your voice over. Again, no need to do this in a single take. Record your VO for one clip, make sure it sounds good, then move to the next. After everything looks and sounds perfect (or close enough), export and upload.

Exporting in 720p usually looks good for web videos and doesn’t take up too much space on your phone’s hard drive. Try to avoid using a resolution worse than 720. I know it’s the web and people don’t expect the same picture quality as an HDTV, but you can really notice the difference, even on a screen as small as your phone.