A short impression on the 6th astrofest in Bieszczady Mountains, Poland, that took place in April 2010. The film combines time-lapse and real-time footage to give the impression of the event and reveal the beauty of the night sky in one of the most unpolluted by artificial light places in Poland, the passion for the star gazing, astronomy and astrophotography.
“This year’s astrofest in Bieszczady wasn’t certainly of the most rewarding in terms of good weather conditions, so the most of footage was collected during the only one night that was suitable for star gazing. There was not too many occasions to photograph the amateurs of star gazing and astrophotography, but the one night available has been used efficiently.
The gear worked almost non stop – during the dusk I filmed the astronomers setting up for observations and during the night the timelapse footage was being captured. And at the dawn I had to remove thick layer of frost from my equipment as the temperature went down to about minus 5 centigrade.
I think of this film as a prelude to shooting something more elaborate and I hope to shoot this year more refined and detailed picture revealing the passion for stargazing and astrphotography. I hope the weather will be more helpful during the upcoming astrofests this year.” – Says Patryk Kizny, the author of the film.
The film has been created using standard video and time lapse techniques using Canon gear – the remarkable 5D MKII and also a 550D. A wide range of accessories and other equipment has been used. Time lapse shots consist of thousands frames, therefore it has become possible to capture the faint details of the Mmilky Way.
“Acquisition and processing of such amount of footage is really time consuming and demanding at each production stage, but it is also highly rewarding. It is the only way to get satisfying results. This sort of image quality would not be possible in any of the standard production methods.
The first technical problem to be solved is the smooth adjustment of the exposure during the dusk to night transition. Each of individual frames need to be exposed carefully and at the same time it is required that the frames be even in order to prevent flickering, which is hard to be removed in post processing. At the same time it is essential to keep the exposure time at the hisest level possible to get the smooth motion during panned shots and reveal faint details of our galaxy.
Night shots are captured at about 15s – 30s per frame exposure. It means that one second of the final footage represents more than half an hour of real-time exposure. The whole night of shooting is compressed to a total of about a minute of footage. A huge amount of data needs to be precessed and this is a challenge event for quite strong computers. It also requires experience and skills in processing to avoid data loss at each of steps.
Panning in this sort of shots also requires special equipment. We use a modified astronomic azimuthal mount with a programmable electric drive (Meade DS2000 and a Meade 497 controller) to deal with such challenges. The mount lets us to turn the pan/tilt head about 10 or 15 degrees in about an hour. This would not be possible with manual operation of the tripod head.
More advanced dolly timelapse shots (not used in this movie) are achieved with use of our custom designed dolly also controlled by the Mead 497 controller.”