How To Shoot A Time Lapse With Ease

Shooting and editing a time-lapse film is a fun project that every photographer should do at least once in their career. It’s exciting to witness events unfold at a rate that exceeds the speed of light. Time lapses may also be used to put time and movement into perspective.

Here are a Few Tips to Shoot A Great Time Lapse Easily:

1. You’ll need an intervalometer

This connects to the shutter release port on your digital SLR camera. An intervalometer is a device that allows you to control how frequently photos are taken (i.e. once every 5 seconds). Some cameras come with them built-in, but if yours does not, you’ll need to purchase one separately. Canon offers a somewhat expensive model that you can purchase from your local shop or from internet retailers like Amazon, or you can save a bundle by purchasing a generic brand model from this site. Make certain that the one you choose is compatible with your camera!

2.  Set your interval

Keep in mind that you’ll be viewing these images far more quickly than you’ll be taking them, so take your time when taking them. It’s beneficial to conduct a little math in this situation. For example, if you’re shooting a time-lapse of an event that lasts 3 hours and you want to create a time-lapse film that is 2 minutes long and played back at 15 frames per second, you’ll need to take a picture every 6 seconds in order to get the video to the proper duration and frame rate. It is evident that you can experiment in this area.

3. Drag your shutter

Using your shutter to drag helps to give the appearance of people moving extremely quickly yet smoothly, rather as “blips” where individuals move more erratically, as shown in the instruction. A shutter speed of 1-2 seconds is ideal, but once again, experiment to find the best setting. At times, it’s helpful to be able to distinguish faces or to pause the video at certain periods in order to gain a clearer sense of who is where in the movie.

4. Set your camera to record jpeg

There is no need to shoot in RAW here (but you may explore if you like!). If you were photographing anything for really high-quality output, you might want to consider shooting in RAW (and the processing that goes along with it), however, jpeg would typically be adequate in most situations. Because of the reduced file sizes, you will be able to fit longer time-lapses onto a single memory card without having to switch cards.

5. Shoot in manual

Make a note of your exposure settings for the photo and then leave them at that point. You will notice that if you are shooting in aperture priority, the shifting metering values on your camera will appear strange in your time-lapse video (probably manifesting as flickering).

6. Switch to manual focus

To lock the focus, use the autofocus feature first, and then switch to manual mode. Without this setting, your camera will attempt to find focus with each photo, which may not turn out well in the long run.

7. Shoot in manual white balance

To avoid having to white balance 3000 photographs for this time-lapse, it’s important to have everything correct in the camera before shooting it. It’s not difficult; all you have to do is change the white balance to the appropriate shooting conditions!

8. Set up your shot and let the camera alone once you’ve completed all of the steps.

Once you’ve achieved all of the aforementioned settings, just set up your camera (photo) and walk away from the camera. Furthermore, experimenting with different perspectives and photos may be quite enjoyable. It results in a more visually appealing time lapse.

9. After you’ve finished shooting upload all the images to single folder.

Then, in Quicktime Pro, go to File/Image Sequence and choose the first image from the folder you just uploaded. A dialog box will appear, asking you what frame rate you want the time-lapse to be shown at. I normally choose 15, but you may play around with anything from 15 to 30 frames per second. (Note: If you’re using Snow Leopard, you’ll need to install Quicktime Pro from the Snow Leopard DVD.) The picture sequence functionality has been removed from the newest version of Quicktime 10) for some reason.

10. Export from Quicktime

Because you’re capturing static photos, you can capture resolutions that are considerably higher than high definition (imagine 4000p – though that isn’t what it’s called, I just made it up – I believe it’s called 4K). In any case, you probably don’t need to save it at that resolution. Instead, consider exporting to a more accessible size, such as 720p. I export in 720p and use the letterbox to keep the aspect ratio. I’m not sure these are the greatest export settings, but I couldn’t find anything on what others do, so I thought I’d share what I do here.

11. Once you’ve exported the time lapse, you’ll want to import it into something like iMovie or Movie Maker (if you’re on a PC) so you can add music to it.

12. Export your time lapse video with music and then post it on social media!

Experiment in the following ways:

  • Alter the time interval.
  • Change the shutter speed on your camera.
  • Using Photoshop or Lightroom, you may batch process your photographs to give them a unique appearance (check out our Lightroom vs Photoshop breakdown)
  • Experiment with different export sizes (you can technically create videos of incredibly high quality since each frame is composed from a still SLR image)
  • Experiment with a variety of camera angles. Cameras on dolly’s are a terrific technique that I’m seeing more and more of. By moving the camera a tiny bit with each frame, you can create a panning effect in the final time lapse video, which is very cool.
  • Various frame rates should be played back.

When you might want to utilize anything like timelapse:

  • Moving into or out of a space (Like shifting out an apartment, Room,etc.)
  • Creating a record of an event (wedding, trade show, etc.)
  • Purposes of artistic expression (lights in cities, clouds in landscapes)
  • Whenever you’re constructing or putting something together.

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