Creating Timelapse Videos
Timelapse videos can be very cool when done well. But let’s start with the basics, what IS a timelapse? Timelapse is a technique that photographs slow process, such as plant growth, at intervals, so that continuous playback of the frames gives an accelerated view of the process. To put this in more basic terms, a timelapse is a series of still images that when played back in succession will create a video of the scene, very much like an animation flipbook. Each still image is a frame of the video and how fast you display them will determine the playback speed of the video. In this simple demo I used a Canon EOS 7D, Phottix Intervalometer, Sigma 24-70 Lens and shot at ISO 100, f/11, 1/125 Second. The sequence uses 304 Shots taken 5 seconds apart and played back at 24fps. I imported the images into Adobe Premiere Pro as an Image Sequence and then exported the movie.
As you can see, there are a few glitches in it. As this was my first experiment, there was bound to have something go wrong. I discuss this issues in the article called How NOT to do Timelapse Photography.
My second attempt looks much nicer. In this example I used a Sony NEX 5n with a Gentled IR Timer shooting every five seconds.
Shooting The Stills
In order to create your timelapse video, you need to get your series of stills. Unless you are fortunate to have a Nikon D3, D200, D300, D700, D5000, D5100 or D7000, you are going to need an external device to trigger your shutter. These devices are called intervalometers. If you own one of the Nikon’s listed above, they have intervalometer functionality built into the menu options.
For Canon users, almost all of their DSLR’s come with EOS Utility which will provide these functions, but you will need to be connected to a computer’s USB port in order to use this tool. This may seriously affect your ability to do very long shots if you have to keep your camera plugged into your laptop.
Very inexpensive intervalometers can be had for as little as $15-$25 on Amazon for most cameras.
Canon users who use Android phones or tablets can also use an app called DSLR Controller to control their cameras. This still may not be a great solution for long, overnight exposures.
Making The Video
You are going to need some software for this part. Generally a movie editor will be used to take all of the frames and export it as a movie along with a soundtrack.
I haven’t found a lot in the way of free software. One that I found is Photo Lapse 3 although I could find any reviews of it. Most of the good commercial software like Sony Vegas or Adobe Premiere can convert a folder of images into a movie file.
One of the cooler pieces of software I have seen is LRTimeLapse 2 which is designed to work with your Adobe Lightroom workflow. While it mayi be a little pricey, it will help you get your timelapse sequences to look as good as possible. With LRTimeLapse 2 you use the tool to create key frames and in-between settings that Lightroom will then apply to the images. Once finished you can either export a movie from Lightroom or export the JPEG’s and use a movie editor to create the movie.Photography, Time Lapse, Video