Super High Res Time Lapse Coral Footage Leaves Us Speechless


We love time lapse videos of corals doing what they do, but this has to be the best one ever made. According to the story that was originally shared on Advanced Aquarist, photographer Daniel Stoupin took over 150000 macro photos of corals and sponges, and compiled them into this amazing piece of work. Because Daniel used macro photography gear, he had to layer the images via focus stacking technique in order to have greater depth of field in the video. Each frame of the video consists of 3-12 individual photos, and because all of the images were taken in the RAW format, you just know a clip of this length took months and months to finish. And the final results are well reflective of the effort, as the images are clean and shine all sorts of detail on some amazing corals and reef invertebrates.

Daniel describes the video at length on his Vimeo page, as well as various blog posts, so we won’t bog this post down with all of those details. If you would like to learn more, we encourage you to visit the links below.

“Slow” marine animals show their secret life under high magnification. Corals and sponges are very mobile creatures, but their motion is only detectable at different time scales compared to ours and requires time lapses to be seen. These animals build coral reefs and play crucial roles in the biosphere, yet we know almost nothing about their daily lives.
Learn more about what you see in my post:
This clip, as well as stock footage, is available in 4k resolution. Make sure you watch it on a large screen! You won’t be able to appreciate this clip or see individual cells moving in a sponge on a smartphone. If you have a full-HD screen, when you enter full-screen mode, please press on “view actual size” next to the HD icon to improve sharpness.
To make this little clip I took 150000 shots. Why so many? Because macro photography involves shallow depth of field. To extend it, I used focus stacking. Each frame of the video is actually a stack that consists of 3-12 shots where in-focus areas are merged. Just the intro and last scene are regular real-time footage. One frame required about 10 minutes of processing time (raw conversion + stacking).


Unfortunately, the success rate was very low due to copious technical challenges and I spent almost 9 long months just to learn how to make these kinds of videos and understand how to work with these delicate creatures.
I am glad that I abandoned the idea of making this clip in 3D (with two cameras) – very few people have 3D screens and it doubles processing time.
Please do not share this clip to promote or endorse marine aquarium industry. Do not misunderstand this statement: I have no problems with aquarists or the industry. I simply want people to admire life, but not to be told to buy stuff.
– Canon 7D (died at the beginning of the project as I had overused it in my research), Canon 5d Mkiii (90% of footage is done with it)
– Canon MP-E 65 mm lens
– adjustable custom-spectrum lamps (3 different models)
– several motorized stages including StackShot for focus stacking
– multiple computers to process thousands of 22+ Mpx raw images and perform focus stacking (an old laptop died on that mission after 3 weeks of continuous processing).
Edited in Sony Vegas, Adobe Photoshop CS6, Zerene Stacker, and Helicon Focus.
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