Time-Lapse Photography Tutorial

May 4, 2010 · 2 comments

in Inspiration,Photoshop,Tutorials

Have you ever flicked through images on your camera, thinking they look like an animated stop frame movie? Well, that is the basic concept for time-lapse photography.

Time-lapse photography is shooting a bunch of photos of the same thing over a period of time, then putting all the images together in a movie, and the end result is an accelerated progression of time.

This is how you do it:

1. Decide on a subject matter

This can be anything from a sunset, to cars driving by, perhaps flower buds opening, or even your dog running on the beach.

2. Consider the length of intervals in between photos and the amount of time required to complete the series

For movement or change which is very noticeable over a short period of time, you need to shoot more frames and have short intervals between frames, while slow gradual change over a longer period of time, will have much longer intervals between the frames.

Most movies show 24 frames per second. So if you want to photograph a flower bud opening, and you want the final movie clip to last 10 seconds and show a smooth transition between frames, then you’ll need to shoot 24 fps x 10 seconds = 240 frames.

Now to work out the length of intervals. I’ll guesstimate that the flower opening takes 5 hours (18 000 seconds), so 18 000 seconds / 240 frames = 75 second intervals.

Now I can set up and take a shot every 75 seconds, and be sure that me final movie clip will be a success!

You can decrease the amount of frames per second, but try to stick between 15 & 24.

For really long events, I recommend using a timer remote control, as you can programme it to trigger the shutter, at predetermined intervals.

3. Set up your camera

In most applications, mounting your camera on a tripod is a good idea, but if you’re photographing moving objects feel free to shoot without a tripod, just keep you lens fixed (ie: Don’t zoom in / out during the frames)

Considering the amount of frames you’ll be shooting, set your camera to shoot small Jpegs. Your final movie clip will be viewed on screen, so there is no need to massive RAW files.

Set your camera’s exposure & white balance manually, to prevent fluctuations as the light changes.

Depending on what look you’re after, check that your shutter speed is fast enough so that if the subject is moving, it is in sharp focus, or intentionally drag your shutter to create additional movement which helps smooth out the video.

4. Edit your photos

If you want to edit the images, due to the quantity of images, I strong suggest automating the process in Photoshop. Practice on one image first to create your Action, then close without saving. Using the automated Batch command, select all you images and create a new folder for the edited images. Then select your Action and sit back while the Photoshop wizard takes care of the process!

5. Make your movie

Quick Time Pro is one of the best applications for time-lapse movies. Under the “File” tab, select “Open Image Sequence”, then browse your computer to the folder of images, select the 1st image and click “Open”. Quick Time will ask how many frames per second you want, and will do the rest for you. Once complete, you can export for web.

Using Adobe Premier or Final Cut Pro, you can pimp up you movie, adding titles, music and effects such as panning & zooming.

That’s it!

Also check out this really neat video tutorial by Zach Wise.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Dagmar May 4, 2010 at 11:03 am

animated gifs are also cool i think although you really need to degrade the photo to make the file size decent – but that is part of the “look”

rikki hibbert May 4, 2010 at 3:33 pm

I’ll give that a bash too!

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