Do you want to spice up your website with some visual media, but want something that’s different from what everyone else has? Something that sets you apart, something that shows that you are a creative individual? Well then, you might want to think about using time lapse to showcase your talents. Although time lapse photography has practically been around since the invention of the camera, it still seems fresh and exciting.
Time lapse photography is the use of photographs in succession to one another, to show the passage of time. In film and video, you are shooting a certain number of frames per second (usually 24 or 30), and those frames happen one right after another. With time lapse, those frames can be shot over a number of minutes, hours, or even days and be played back in just a matter of seconds! The goal is to show a passage of time—think about shadows moving, clouds moving, plants growing. Adding a time lapse sequence to your video can really make it more exciting, and give it some artistic flair.
Time lapse video is uniquely captivating to us as humans, since we can’t normally see that passage of time without the aid of the time lapse. Why not fascinate your audience in the same fashion by using time lapse in your video production? You may be thinking. “I have no idea how to do time lapse. I don’t want to even bother, it seems difficult.” Well fear not blog-reader, we are here to help.
The first thing you are going to need is a camera, a tripod and an intervalometer (or the program magic lantern, but we won’t get into that now). An intervalometer is a device that captures a series of sequential images for you automatically over a specified amount of time (so you don’t have to keep clicking your shutter button). After that, all you need is a subject and you’re ready to begin! Let’s say that you want to have a time lapse video of the outside of your office building, you want to showcase the clouds moving over your new digs to make it seem hip and arty.
There are a number of things you need to make sure you do before you begin your time lapse project.
- Frame your shot
- Shoot in RAW (if your memory card allows it)
- Check your focus (shoot in manual)
- Don’t be too finicky with changing aperture, ISO or shutter speed otherwise you might run into “flicker” (slight differences in light between photographs)
- Patience. It will take a long time to get your finished product
These steps are the basics for getting your time lapse video underway. Before you start, you need to decide the interval time between shots also. Here is a chart to help you out:
Clouds moving - 3-10 seconds depending on how fast they move.
People walking - 2 seconds
Shadows - 30 seconds or 15 seconds if the sun is rising or setting
Sunset/Sunrise - 5 seconds
Once you finished shooting, all that is left is to stack the images to create your actual “time lapse”. I personally use Adobe After Effects, but there are other programs that do the same thing.
- Import photos on computer or hard drive.
- Open After Effects and Create new composition
- Import the first file
- Right click the file and adjust frame rate if necessary (interpret footage: main)
- Right click and choose new composition and render it out.
That's the basic jist of creating a time lapse video. Obviously there can be lots more than just the basics, such as color correction and other effects. As an intro though, this will do just fine.
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