Time Lapse: let’s see how to make it happen

Do you want to make a fantastic Time Lapse but you don’t know where to start? In this article I will try to give you some useful tips on how to make a noteworthy Time Lapse.

What is Time Lapse

Time Lapse is a cinematic technique in which the capture rate of each frame is much lower than the playback rate. Due to this diversity, projection with a   standard frame rate of 24 fps makes time in the movie seem to run faster than normal.  Thanks to this method of capturing the scene, it is therefore possible to  speed up the Time Lapse Company that passes so much that it illustrates something that in everyday life we ​​would not notice  (for example the relative movement of the stars or the simple movement of clouds, etc.).

With Time Lapse there is therefore the possibility of seeing things that in a traditional video would be impossible to observe. The ability of ultra-fast reproduction, in fact, allows the viewer to perceive movements of objects, the unfolding of situations and people’s actions in a way that would be impossible to ‘see’ from the perspective of a normal perception.

How to make a Time Lapse

If you are really interested in making a Time Lapse, below I will show you some steps for making perfect and spectacular Time Lapses.

To create a professional and high quality Time Lapse it is essential to have high quality shooting tools and support equipment.

Before starting I remind you that in order to perform post production on the photographs taken, it is good to make your shots in RAW format.

Remember to set the RAW format on your camera to the maximum resolution that you will need to make the cropping and any panning movements in the post production phase.

Unfortunately large RAWs take up a lot of memory on cards; better to have memory cards with a lot of capacity in order to save all your shots.

Equipment to make a Time Lapse

DSLR digital SLR camera;

Intervalometer ;

Tripod ;

Post production software ;

ND filters (optional);

Battery Grip and Spare Batteries ;

How to make a Time Lapse: shooting techniques

1. First you have to start by asking yourself what you want to photograph.  For example: photographing moving clouds, even if it is a very academic thing, is great for your first time-lapse attempt.

Remember to compose a scene with perfectly included elements. Choose and normal photo composition rules so as not to make your shot boring.

2. Place the camera on the tripod and level it. You must have a straight and beautiful shot made.

3. Choose the shooting format. As I anticipated a few paragraphs above, it uses the RAW format; it will come in handy in post production.

4. Use Live View to focus on subjects. Once you have found the ideal focus, detach your lens’s AF focus and leave it on manual MF.

This way you avoid wasting battery unnecessarily on focusing with every shot

5. Set the correct shooting mode. Selects the Manual Shooting mode (maximum priority at aperture A). Set the ISO value that suits you best, set both the aperture value and the shutter speed value.

Setting the correct shutter speed is very important when making a time lapse. The higher the shutter speed (1/125 or faster), the less smooth motion your subject will give in the final video.

6. set the intervalometer by deciding how many images to take and every how many seconds. 

The intervalometer is a device that equips a camera and that allows you to perform an automatic sequence of exposures spaced from each other by a programmable time interval.

If your camera is not equipped with an intervalometer you can buy an external one, like this one that I show you, on Amazon.

You must know that, depending on the subject you want to shoot, you will have to use different times and intervals.

We assume that on average about 25 frames per second are transmitted on TV. This value can also double for movies viewable on Full HD 1080p TVs, but let’s take the first one for good.

“Each second of video therefore requires 25 frames.”

In Time Lapse, a frame is equivalent to a photograph. For a video of only 10 seconds, therefore, a beauty of 250 photographs will be needed. One minute of time lapse takes 1,500 shots away.

That said, it’s also easy to calculate how long it will take to make the desired sequence.

Assuming we take 1 frame every 4 seconds, it will take 250 x 4 = 1000 seconds = 16.6 minutes to process our 10 seconds of Time Lapse video.

To know the interval to set between one shot and the next, you need to know that there is no precise answer. It all depends a lot on the ISO value set on the camera, the aperture and the shutter speed.

I can only give you some general indications:

On a windy day, to photograph the clouds, you will need to shoot with a variable interval between 5 and 20 seconds depending on whether there is more or less wind. If your subject is people in a well-populated street in a city, you can use an interval between 1 “and 4” shots.

Take a few test shots to check if the shot is perfect. Press the START button and relax. Remember to always keep an eye on the situation.

If you’re shooting during sunrise or sunset you need to keep an eye on the shots as you go. This will help you avoid unpleasant under / overexposure; in this way you will avoid throwing shots at the end of the session.

Once your shooting session is over, you can go home and create your first Time-Lapse video.

Below I show you how to create your first Time Lapse video with QuickTime Pro:

Make sure you have the sequence of images that will make up your video in your folder. And that they are in sequential order as the file name.

Click on File> Open Image Sequence

The system will ask you to choose the first image. Select it, and press Open

Set the frame rate to a value between 10 and 30

Click on File> Save as. QuickTime MOV to get your Time Lapse movie.

QuickTime Pro is available for both Windows and Mac.

Another very useful program for making Time Lapse videos is LRTimelapse which you can download by connecting to the manufacturer’s website.

I remind you that, as in my case, it will be very difficult to make a noteworthy Time Lapse on the first try; practice a lot and don’t be discouraged if you don’t get a good result right away.