Basics

What is timelapse?
Timelapse is a technique in which images are captured at a slower rate to which they are played back. An example would be taking a picture every 6 seconds, let’s say 100 photos, that would be 600 seconds (10 minutes to you and me). Most video is played back around 25 frames per second (this does vary) so the end result would be a 4 second video (100shots/25fps=4seconds). Thus creating the illusion that time has sped up.

Awesome I hear you cry.!

What equipment?

A digital camera is a good starting point. They vary in quality but will far outperform any video camera by a long way. A good camera for timelapse would have the ability to take many photos automatically at set intervals. Most DSLR’s and some top end compacts will accept some form of intervalometer, this is a device that will allow you to trigger the shutter at set intervals (this is my preferred weapon of choice). This could be a laptop or timer remote and there is even software that will load directly onto some cameras.

A tripod or some way of making sure the camera doesn’t move is very important, if you don’t do this the final video will become very shaky.

Memory cards the bigger and faster the better as you will get more pictures on.

Batteries charged and ready to go, take some spares. Even if your initial shoot drains your battery, pop in some more and shoot a different viewpoint.

Techniques

There are some core techniques that will improve your video depending on what you are shooting. The camera settings are important to get good shots, manual focus will keep the shots consistent as will setting your white balance to manual. Shutter dragging which is leaving the shutter open as long as you can which will add blur to moving objects, which works particulaly well for faster objects such as people or cars. You can add neutral density filters to slow your shutter speed in bright conditions. HDR will take more than 1 image at different exposures and combine them to give greater detail. Panning is seen in some of the best videos, it can be added in post production or by using a motorised dolly to physically move the camera.

Content

You can pick pretty much anything that changes or moves over a period of time. It could be a peach decomposing or a tide coming in, a busy high street, a building under construction, a flower blooming, shadows from sunlight, stars in the night sky. The possibilities are endless. I personally enjoy clouds forming at dusk. It’s a question of what you like and how long you leave the camera running.

Production

So you have taken all your pictures. There are many software program’s that you can use to stitch your pictures together to make a video. I choose Adobe After effects as it gives a great deal of control. As briefly mentioned earlier, panning can be added giving the illusion that the camera is moving thus giving a more dramatic effect. Music will make the final video more interesting. There are a few sites that offer free music that you can add, look for CC creative commons licence, sometimes you only need to mention the artist to use it for free.

As the title suggests this is just a basic overview to timelapse, for my ten steps to making your own and some videos I made click Create…. or take a look at About for some very polished examples of timelapse videos.

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