The first thing you’re going to need for a time lapse video is a time lapse sequence. Options for generating the sequence will vary with different cameras. With my Nikon D800, I used an MC-36 remote cord. with the MC-36, it’s possible to program an interval between shots and the number of shots required. You then just press the start button and put your feet up. The number of shots you’re ultimately able to take will be constrained by the size of memory card used and file settings.
If you shoot in jpeg, you’re going to get more shots than if you shoot in RAW, bearing in mind, if you do shoot in RAW, you’re going to have to process the images. You can batch process in Photoshop and Lightroom of course.
Shooting in jpeg makes sense and if you reduce the quality and size of the jpegs recorded, you can take a lot of shots on a 16 or 32GB memory card. This number will also vary with the number of megapixels your camera’s sensor records so I can’t give any hard a fast numbers here. Suffice to say, 400 shots taken at 5 second intervals will allow you to cover a time frame of 33 minutes or so and will give you a video that will last 16 seconds at 24 frames per second.
400 x 5 = 2000 seconds divided by 60 = 33.33 minutes. 400 divided by 24 (frames per second) = 16.66 seconds. It’s not difficult maths.
How you set the interval between shots depends on how dynamic the scene that you want to shoot. The smaller the interval, the smoother the video but if you’re setting up to shoot a seed germinating or a flower blooming, you’re not going to want to be taking frames every one to three seconds however, this would suit a more dynamic scene like traffic, a busy high street, clouds on a windy day etc. If you have an idea for a time lapse sequence, Google the idea. There’s a good chance someone else will have done it and suggested an appropriate shooting interval and fps number.
A tripod is essential. Each shot has to be framed the same as the last. A remote cord helps a great deal. If you don’t have a programmable remote cord, it’s still worth using it as if you’re manually pressing the shutter every 3 seconds, there’s a good chance you’re going to jog the camera. If you need to go the manual route, a stop watch would be a useful item in your kit bag.
It makes sense to set your camera to an automatic or semi-automatic mode so that the camera makes the required adjustments to exposure necessary whilst shooting the sequence.
Now all you have to do is frame your shot and start shooting. Ensure your camera is set to create files in a numbered sequence. Cameras invariably do but this is quite important for the next step.
The next step..
You should now have a file on your computer with a whole bunch of pictures in it. I used a 64GB memory card for my experimental time lapse sequence. I had it in my head that this would give me 798 shots basing this on the fact that I usually shoot RAW. I set the interval to 3 seconds on the remote figuring I’d be shooting for 40 minutes. I had set the camera to jpeg fine however and didn’t bother to check how many shots this would give me.
I set my tripod up on the patio, framed my shot, set the camera to auto, pressed start and came back indoors for some breakfast and to catch up on some blogs. An hour later the camera was still clicking away. It was then that it dawned on me that I had considerably more shots on my card than the 798 I’d expected. My time lapse sequence ended up consisting of 1797 shots. That was when I decided I probably had enough and I pressed stop on the remote.
The following video Tutorial shows you how I turned this sequence into a time lapse video using Photoshop CS6. Earlier versions may vary.
Be sure to click the HD button. The video in best viewed in full screen mode…
And this is the finished product. Not the most exciting time lapse sequence but I hope that you got something from learning how this is done.
Again, be sure to click the HD button and the video is best viewed in full screen mode. ;-)
I look forward to seeing some of your time lapse videos. If you have any questions, just leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer them..
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