Monday, October 31, 2011

Create A Time-Lapse Video

It’s easier than ever to do with the latest digital cameras and basic software
By Amon Focus Published in Shooting
Create A Time-Lapse Video


Once the equipment is prepared, I head out to each location in order of proximity with an idea of what I want to capture. For my New York time-lapse video, for instance, I created a shot list and carried it around with me. Tip: I found it helpful to have a printed hard copy that I could make notes on. I also created a digital PDF version for my mobile device in case I lost or forgot the hard copy.

I have learned to always have a Plan B. I may get to my destination, and the shot I need might not be there—maybe it's too cloudy or not cloudy enough, for example. If the clouds don't cooperate, then I set out to capture crowds, for instance.

Keep your shot stable and use a tripod. The first major challenge of time-lapse photography is people, myself included. If someone even brushes up against my tripod, I'm going to have to start over. If I'm capturing people, I stand with my feet apart to guard from someone accidentally kicking it. If it's windy, I hang my gear bag from the hook under the center of my tripod for stability.

Amon Focus' Toolbox
Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Canon EF 24-70mm ƒ/2.8L USM
Canon TC-80N3 Timer Remote Control
Vanguard Alta+ 224CP Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod with PH-22 Head

QuickTime 7 Pro
Adobe After Effects
Apple Final Cut Pro

Timelapse Calculator:

MiLapse Moco Calculator:
The second big challenge is weather: the wind, sun and clouds. With the wind, you never really know how hard it's blowing until your camera shakes. Because I shoot in manual, I have to be very aware of what the sun is doing or I'll find myself with an over- or underexposed shot. Also, the exposure changes drastically depending on whether or not the clouds are covering the sun, and the sun and clouds never stop moving.

You can save hours of postproduction by simply setting a custom white balance. Since I shoot JPEG files in manual mode, it's important to get the shots correct directly on the camera instead of trying to color-correct later.

All other photography rules apply with time-lapse, too; you're just adding the element of time. For crowd shots, I shoot at one- or two-second intervals. (An interval is the amount of time between shots.) For slow-moving clouds, I'll shoot at three- to seven-second intervals, depending on their speed. Fast-moving clouds generally require a one-second interval.

The interval length affects how long I'll spend capturing a scene. Examples: One-second intervals for 10 minutes (600 shots) will give me 25 seconds of video at 24 frames per second. Two-second intervals for 10 minutes (300 shots) will give me 12.5 seconds of video at 24 frames per second. If I want blur in what I'm capturing, I'll use a slower shutter speed. This is something that I experiment with until I get it to my liking.

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