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How to shoot professional Timelapse Sequences.
February 26, 2016
Time-lapse movies are getting more and more popular these days. Still-photographers, filmmakers and multimedia artists are discovering this new and exciting facet of photography. First things first, don’t just approach a scene, set down your tripod and begin shooting because guess what? You’ll end up with a shot just like everyone else’s.
It pays to take your time, look around, and pay extra attention to your composition. As a timelapse photographer we have an incredible creative tool that few other photographers have, and that’s change. Try to anticipate how your scene will change over time and what composition best captures this change.
Let us talk about size, quality, space and speed; It’s nothing new if you’ve worked with digital images before but with time-lapse sequences poor planning can quickly cut a scene too short or leave you with a blinking “Card Full” message just as the sun peaks out over the mountains. There’s a lot to discuss here but if I were to boil all this down into a simple recommendation it would be this: Shoot in the highest resolution RAW format your card capacity, camera write speed and time-lapse planning will allow. RAW images will allow for non-destructive tweaking and correcting in post production (using standard or transitional editing). High resolution images will provide the freedom to crop as well as program in movement by panning, tilting or zooming into a sequence in post.
The Basics of Shooting Time-lapse
I can’t stress this enough: If you are new to time-lapse, review these basics then get out there and play. Your first few tests should focus more on experimenting with different changing subjects and a little less stress about creating a technically perfect rendered sequence (there’s plenty of time for that later). Get a few fun tests under your belt and the time-lapse bug is sure to carry you through to the next steps. After you’ve had a chance to survey the basics, we’ll walk through some specific scenarios and advanced topics.This section is obviously pretty big and pretty important but if I had to pull out only a few pages on the fundamentals of shooting DSLR time-lapse it would be this:
- Create a composition: Exploer and evaluate your subject, create an interesting scene, anticipate how the scene will change.
- Design and program interval: Decide the speed and flow of action, determine clip length and and how many shots, calculate how long to shoot, program intervalometer
- Choose the right lapse: This is perhaps the most important point when dealing with a “time-lapse”. The interval between shots is what will determine the speed of our final video. The longer the interval, the quicker will be the movement of the elements of our shot, and vice versa. But we must adapt the interval to the real movement of our scenery.
Confused? Here are a few suggestions of lapses depending on the scene.
Clouds moving very slowly, interval of 10 seconds. Clouds moving normally: interval of 5 seconds. Clouds moving very fast: interval of 3 seconds. People walking down the street: interval of 2 seconds. Path of the sun on a clear day, nterval of 30 seconds. Night landscapes, stars, moon, etc.: nterval of 20 to 30 seconds.
- Set camera exposure: Exposing to minimize flicker, creating motion blur, lock in an consistent exposure in manual mode: ISO, Aperture, Shutter, Focus White balance
- Review, test and organize: Take a test shot-mini time lapse, mark the new sequence, final tripod and camera stability check.
- Postproduction: I use LRTimelapse from Gunter Wegner and Adobe Lightroom. LRTimelapse 4 provides the most comprehensive solution for time lapse editing, keyframing, grading and rendering.
LRTimelapse will take your movies to the next level. It allows you to continuously change Adobe Lightroom or Camera RAW development parameters over the time which enables key-frame animations like in video-processing. The great advantage over post processing your time lapse sequences in your favorite video production software is the much better video quality gained from the preprocessing of the Source-files (RAW, DNG or JPG).
Furthermore, LRTimelapse is one of the best instruments to deflicker your time lapse movies.
Even the Holy Grail of Time Lapse Photography, seamless transitions from day to night, gets as easy as a couple of clicks with LRTimelapse. You don’t even need expensive and complicated bulb-ramping devices to achieve it and get better, mostly perfect results, with a little bit of practice.
I love this picture. It reflect´s the passion, the silence and the uniqueness of making a Timelapse Sequence.