New York City is already one of the most heavily photographed places on earth, so at Focus Camera, we’re always looking for new ways to illustrate unique perspectives with different locations, collaborators, and equipment. For a new promotional video, we decided to work with Syrp, a New Zealand imaging brand that makes portable time-lapse and motion control equipment. We were drawn to their outstanding shots of natural landscapes and starry skies, and hoped to create something similar with our own epic scenery.
Our Brooklyn-based video and imaging production team always aims to provide emerging photographers with the tools and guides to advance in their creative careers, in addition to promoting the Focus Camera e-commerce brand. We produce camera and accessory reviews, tutorials, and on-camera interviews.
In terms of content, it was important for our video to feel like New York without necessarily hitting all the traditional New York spots. We wanted to capture things that people would recognize as New York, but in unique perspectives that people who didn’t live here wouldn’t have seen before.
Working with the Syrp Genie was super straightforward. Basically, you can put a camera on the Syrp Genie, hook the cable up to the camera, and the Genie will do all the work for you. It sets how long the time-lapse should be, how many shots you’re taking. Once you push start, you just sit back and wait. The Genie also takes care of the math, and offers pre-sets for beginners. If you choose a 25 minute record time, it tells you what the interval between pictures needs to be and what that will yield — which, this case, is 12 seconds of footage.
Plus, using the panning and linear motion gave our time-lapse shots more dimension. It helps create more interest in your picture than just a straight shot of a classic time lapse. We used primarily panning shots to communicate the gravitas of the city.
We were also surprised at how strong the battery was. I haven’t been able to run it even to 50% battery life and it’s super helpful when you’re shooting long time-lapses. You’re not worried about an extra battery pack.
Besides the Syrp Genie, we chose to work with the Sony a7Rii and a7Sii. We tend to favor Sony cameras for their superior video and very high dynamic ranges. They’re especially useful for shooting time-lapse footage thanks to added flexibility with editing RAW files.
Since New York is a sweeping city, it was important to capture the grandeur with the right lens. We didn’t want to use anything too wide, however, to better show how well the Genie works with standard gear. The Sony Zeiss 35mm is the widest angle that I have in my bag at any given time. I used the 50mm for the closer shots, like when I was shooting down a long road. We’re big fans of Zeiss in general, which we count on for their super sharp images — extra important for creating crystal clear videos.
For one of the scenes, we visited Turtle Pond near the 79th Street Traverse, which features a stunning view of Belvedere Castle. We got there just as the sun was setting, and captured some lovely blue hour shots. The bucolic bliss of Central Park in the fading light helped to offshoot the hustle of everyday life. The place we went in Central Park isn’t what you normally see in commercials or on TV, but it’s a beautiful place that most New Yorkers will know about. They will take their friends from out of town there.
We also shot Times Square from within the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Restaurant, beneath the Freedom tower, mixing in architecture that people wouldn’t recognize. To get inside the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. with a strange piece of photography equipment, I brought my own family to serve as a distraction. Of course, to get those vivid nighttime shots, this meant hauling two under-five children to a restaurant at ten o’clock.
We’re always on the lookout for new and immersive gear. The Syrp Genie is easy to add to your daily gear bag — and worth it. It fits easily between dividers, and provides endless opportunities to create seamless and immersive time-lapse and video shots. If you need product video shots and a really smooth slider look, the Genie is great for that. Any other videos where you need an extra interesting shot with a pan or a slider, the Genie is super helpful.