CREATING THE TIME-LAPSE MOVIENow that you have the frames shot, it's time to make the movie. If you have an in-camera movie option, try that first. I'm amazed at the quality of the finished time-lapse movies my D4 creates. I choose the movie quality settings before shooting the sequence, and the camera creates the movie after all the frames are shot. I simply download the movie off my flash card, and it's ready to go.
Most time-lapse sequences are created in the computer using image-editing software. There are many ways to create time-lapse movies, including advanced workflows using Final Cut Pro X and Adobe After Effects. But if you're just starting out, two of the easiest methods are using QuickTime 7 Pro or Lightroom 4.
The quickest and easiest way to create a time-lapse movie in the computer is using QuickTime 7 Pro. This inexpensive software provides you simple control of the movie creation. To start, put all your sequence images into one folder on your desktop. Open QuickTime 7 Pro, and choose File > Open Image Sequence.
Navigate to your folder of images, and select the first image in the sequence. Click Open, and choose the frame rate for your movie. I like to use 24 fps for smooth video clips, but you can choose any frame rate you like. QuickTime 7 Pro doesn't work with RAW images, so you'll need to convert your shots to JPEG or TIFF. Once your time-lapse is created, you can edit and export the movie according to your end use.
Lightroom 4 also offers an easy way to create a time-lapse sequence, but with that added benefit of being able to batch-process RAW files to create the movie. RAW files will produce the best end result, especially if you need to adjust exposure, saturation, sharpening, etc.
My normal time-lapse workflow involves shooting the images in RAW, then importing the shots into Lightroom in a separate folder. Next, I choose one image in the sequence and do adjustments to optimize the shot. Then I select the rest of the images and "sync" these adjustments to all the shots in the sequence. Now the files are ready to be made into a movie.
To create the time-lapse movie, you'll first need to download some presets. Sean McCormack at Pixiq (www.pixiq.com) has developed some time-lapse movie presets you can download for free. Once this is done, go to the Slideshow module in Lightroom 4. Under User presets, choose the frame rate you would like to use. Next, hit the Export Video button, which will prompt you to choose the frame rate again. Choose the same frame rate as you chose in the User presets, and hit the Save button. Now Lightroom will render your time-lapse movie, which may take a while depending on your file size.