Device Technology

How to Make a Time-Lapse Video: What You Need and Tips

timelapse video maker

For some time I have been thinking about trying to make a Time Lapse Video with my Canon 7D, so I started looking for “beginner tips”.

In this post I want to share those (few) notions that I have so far learned on various Internet sites, creating a sort of mini-tutorial in Italian for those who want to approach this technique. Source: various websites in English.

What is the Time Lapse Technique?

I don’t think I could explain it better than that.

From Wikipedia:

Time-lapse photography, or simply time-lapse, is a cinematographic technique in which Video Production For Marketing the capture rate of each frame is much lower than that of reproduction

Due to this discrepancy, projection with a standard frame rate of 24 fps causes time in the movie to appear to run faster than normalTime-lapse photography is considered an opposite technique to high-speed photography and should not be confused with step-one animation.

A time-lapse movie can be obtained by processing a series of photographs taken in sequence and appropriately editedProfessional-level videos are produced with the aid of video cameras and cameras equipped with intervalometers or devices for adjusting the capture frame rate or the frequency of photographic shots, over a specific time interval; some intervalometers are connected to the camera movement control system in order to obtain movement effects, such as panning and tracking shots, coordinated at different frame rates.

Time-lapse is widely used in the field of nature documentaries. Through this cinematographic technique, it is in fact possible to document events that are not visible to the naked eye or whose evolution over time is hardly perceptible to the human eye, such as the apparent movement of the sun and stars on the celestial

vault, the passing of the seasons, the movement of clouds or the blossoming of a flower.

Shoot in JPG to save time

There is no point in shooting in RAW format.
Although I am a fan of the pure image, stored in RAW on the memory card and editable later without loss of information, shooting in RAW means producing a file of 5184 × 3456 pixels per frame.

Even if you want to make a time lapse video for Full HD televisions (i.e. with a resolution of 1920 × 1080), only a little more than 2 megapixels per frame would be needed (instead of the 18 capable of being stored by the 7D)!

So shooting in RAW would mean:

1) Do a minimum of post production on each shot (optional)
2) waste a lot of time converting images from RAW to JPG
3) resize JPGs to a format suitable for FullHD TVs

And considering that a video is about 24 frames, when it comes to converting 1440 photos for a single minute of video… well… I guess it’s not worth it, right?

What it takes to create a time lapse video

Perhaps it may seem silly, but if it is the first time that you approach this technique you will want to know that, camera and possible tripod aside, a fundamental thing is to have an intervalometer or an electronic trinket able to trigger the shutter of your camera. Every few seconds, for many times (even infinite). 

Canon cameras can interface with the Canon TC-80N3Playful green nerds can try an Arduino-based solution – I’ve seen sensational things done, but I’ll let it go for now.

How to make a time lapse video: step-by-step tutorial

Now let’s move on to a step by step tutorial to understand how to make a mini time lapse video:

Place the camera

Use the tripod to place the camera in a location capable of shooting the scene from

which to take the time lapse video.

Take a test shot

Take a test photo to understand how to expose and focus the scene, then understand the shutter speed required when shooting and the aperture.

Set the final shooting data

Once you have reached the ideal shooting situation, put the camera in full manual mode and set the shutter speed and aperture. Focus the scene, move the lens selector to manual focus, and finally set the balance value to custom to avoid the phenomenon of flickering when exporting the video.

Then, take a final test photo.

Set the intervalometer

Set the desired shutter rate and number of frames on the intervalometer, then connect it to the camera and press START.

Create the video sequence

There are tons of software that can do this. I understand that the simplest is QuickTime Pro: just go to File> Open Image Sequence and choose the first image. Set the frame rate to a value between 10 and 30, ET voila! Just click on File> Save as… QuickTime MOV to magically get the time lapse movie done and finished.

And now some tips for a good time lapse

Finally, some tips for making a good timelapse like this:

Plan the scene

One piece of advice I have often found is to set up the scene to include a mix of static and moving objects: buildings, trees etc… will give the video a consistent point of reference while the “rest of the world” will seem to move very quickly. If everything moves, the video will be too difficult to follow.

Slow-moving subjects are the best

A situation such as rush hour traffic, with all the queued cars moving at a snail’s pace, is ideal for a time lapse sequence.

Shooting speed

Make sure you choose a speed that in a sense gives “a good time lapse effect” (i.e. movement). Too high a speed may give the final video an “erratic” effect.

Interval between shots (intervalometer setting)

It depends on the framed subject.
For slowly moving objects (clouds for example) you can use a time frame as wide as 1 second. Those who do it quickly better a shorter span.

Remaining battery quantity

Make sure you have enough charge for both the camera and the intervalometer: opt for the battery grip for long videos…

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Ashna John

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