How do you make a timelapse? Video Questions

Finally got round to this!!

A time lapse is a method of photography and videography that captures sequential images from a static camera over a certain period of time, and then sped up in post production to create the illusion of time moving fast.

There are so many reasons why you’d want to use time lapses in your work; from establishing locations to capturing a long event like the northern lights or sunrises and sunsets. Time lapses create a visual spectacle in which time speeds up, you see nature at work and things you would normally miss or take for granted.

If you want to check out some awesome time lapse films, please watch Ron Fricke’s Samsara which includes awe inspiring cinematography captured in 70mm film.

There are a couple of ways you can create a time lapse, dependent on the length of time you wish to capture, the changing exposure settings of the location, and the kit you have.

Cameras and Kit

I assume that most people interested in this post own a DSLR or video camera of some kind, as it is difficult to capture a time lapse otherwise. In all honesty, what model of camera you use won’t make a big difference on the overall video. Whether it is a Canon 110D, 550D or 1D-C, Nikon D3200 or D90, Sony A-7 or Olympus OM-D EM1 your photos and video will look great. Just make sure you have your exposure and focus point set correctly. In regards to what lens you use, in general wide angle lenses give a better perspective of the environment; we’ve all seen GoPro videos, that is ultra wide, but you don’t need a fish eye or specific lenses to do this. Usually the standard kit lens that comes with your camera has a wide angle, whether it be 11mm on MFT cameras or 16mm on full frame, keeping a wide field of view is key to achieving the perspective of a time lapse.

Lets start with time. The longer you wish to capture, the more memory and battery you will need so ensure you’ve got a fresh card and charged batteries, or even better a battery grip. Depending on what camera you are using you may also need an intervalometer; a device that plugs into the camera and releases the shutter for a pre-set duration at a pre-set interval.

Here’s one made by Canon – Canon-Intervalometer1[1]

So, if you wanted to capture a sunset, you will be shooting for a couple of hours. This little device will release the shutter and take a picture for you, however you need to set the interval duration. The longer the interval, the greater the difference between each image as the objects in the frame move and change. For a sunrise or sunset, an interval of 10 seconds should suffice, as the sun and clouds move slowly.

If you were in a city shooting a TL of a busy public place, a shorter interval should be used so the objects or people move smoothly through the frame and don’t jump around.

What are you capturing?

Where will you be shooting the time lapse? Bright daylight at the beach, or in arctic winter? Or star trails and fireworks at night? Your DSLR’s shutter speed will allow you to control the amount of time the shutter is exposed to light, so a longer shutter speed (anything under 1/30 can be used when the sun or bright light is not available) should be used at night when light levels are low. You can also use the BULB setting I believe to capture exposures longer than 30 seconds if you are capturing star trails.In the opposite situation, you can set your shutter to a reasonable speed depending on the light available; but remember changing light is inevitable and uncontrollable in nature so using shutter priority mode (T) or aperture priority mode (A).

REMEMBER YOUR TRIPOD! Shooting for long periods of time need a steady support, to keep the camera locked off and weighed down if needs be! My Manfrotto tripods work a treat.

Experiment and test at the time to judge your exposure settings. Keep your aperture or F stop small so that all objects in the frame are in focus; something like F/11 down to F/22 if in bright light or you can increase the aperture to F/4 up to F/2.8 if you’re working at night. Increasing your ISO to 1000 or 1250 is perfectly fine if your doing a night-lapse, so no worries about that.

Also use the digital zooming capabilities on the camera to get critical focus on a key static point.

If you have less time for a time lapse, then you can always hit record on your camera and film continuously for as long as it can. This is an easy option for those out and about shooting as you can simply wait for 10 minutes or so. Obviously here you have the time restriction to only 10 minutes, so this works best for short burst time lapses of clouds, people & crowds and quick changing landscapes.

For any other setting it would be better to use an invervalometer, mainly as keeping your camera recording will suck the juice out of your battery like anything.

For savvy videographers and photographers alike who may have Magic Lantern already, there is an intervalometer built into the ML firmware which acts just like an internal one. If you don’t want to pay for an external device then Magic Lantern which is open source and free is your best option. Plus having ML on your camera expands its video capabilities greatly.

Post Production – If you have taken a series of photos

You’ve captured an amazing sunset, it has taken you hours and all you want to do is see the finished product. Some methods of editing time lapses are long, boring and not neccessary; taking the photos into After Effects for example, its not needed!

Adobe Premiere Pro is a much simpler and quicker method of getting your TL into a video. Firstly, create your project as you would normally, setting scratch disks to your project folder where the photos are stored. Next, create a sequence dependent on what resolution you would like the video to be. Nearly all photos taken on a DSLR are larger in size than 1080p high definition, so this is a good place to start.

Depending on where you are in the world, your frame rate should be 25fps for UK/EU/Rest of world, or 30fps for USA. This will play your video back at the same frame rate as television and internet, so the time lapse will be smooth.

Now you have your sequence open in the timeline, go to Edit>Preferences>General. Here you can set the default ‘still frame’ (picture) duration to ONE frame; in timecode this will appear like: 00:00:00:01. This sets the sequence of images to play one after the other with 25 pictures in each second.

Now you are ready to import your photos! Simply Ctrl-I or Cmd-I to open the import window, select the folder with your time lapse images and click ‘Import Folder’. Premiere will now import all the photos in the folder and set the duration. You can now simply drag the folder with the photos into the sequence, and your time lapse is now a video. Make sure you render (hit Enter) and watch it back in case you need to correct any frames.

If it looks like the photos are going too quickly, you can change the duration of all the photos very simply; select all the photos in the sequence, right click > Speed/Duration. Here you can increase the frame duration from 00:00:00:01 to 02 frames instead. Here you will need to see what suits your time lapse best. One last tip is to highlight/select all the photos in the sequence, right click, and click ‘Frame Blend’. This calculates the interpolation (movement) of subjects between two images, so it fills in the gaps so to speak.

Post Production – Long Video Files

So you’ve taken the easy road! This method is just as simple as above, and is a quick way of processing a short time lapse. Once you have followed the steps to create your sequence, you can import the video file like you would the photos, instead you simply click the video file needed and click ‘Import’. Then drag the video file into the sequence; here if you have been videoing in a different video format Premiere will let you know that the video and the sequence do not match. It is easier to stick with the format of your original video, so if this happens click ‘Change Sequence Settings’.

video time lapse adobe premiere tutorial

With the video now in the timeline, right click and click ‘Speed/Duration’. Here you can increase the speed % to make it faster, and again will need some experimenting to see which looks the best. Remember the higher the speed increase percentage, the faster the time lapse happens.

Colour Correcting

You can add any colour correction to the time lapse by creating an ‘Adjustment Layer’ and adding brightness and contrast, curves, levels, tint, whatever you like to make the time lapse look great.

timelapse videography adobe premiere pro colour correction

For a ’tilt-shift effect – like the incredible New York Sandbox video you will need to use additional plug ins like Magic Bullet, or add the effect in Photoshop before importing to premiere.

Exporting – finally creating the time lapse video!

timelapse premiere pro export settings tutorial video

Once you are all done, with the sequence selected go to File>Export. If you are uploading to the web, then the H.264 format will work the best for quality and compression. From the drop down menu select H.264 and the Vimeo, Youtube or any other format you wish. There are loads, and plenty of confusing settings so don’t get bogged down in the different types for now. When you think you are ready, and have chosen your file destination and name, you can hit ‘Export’, or if you wish to carry on working in Premiere on another project you can ‘Queue’ to export to Adobe Media Encoder which will export it in the background!

A little example of a video time lapse I shot at Epsom Downs!

I hope this covers your time lapse photography and videography questions? If there is anything I’ve missed or if you have other questions please send them in!

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Video on the Canon 5DmkIII and Samyang Cine Lenses

Many of you intrepid videographers may have come across a unique range of VDSLR Cine lenses from Samyang (Rokinon/Walimex) depending on your region. Have you had thoughts to invest in one, or a whole range of them?

Focusing on video, having electronic focusing and aperture is not essential for me, and in fact gives more control over the light entering the lens due to the de-clicked aperture. You can create smooth transitions between light and dark situations with ease by pulling the aperture.

As I’ve only just got the 5DmkIII and cine lenses, I thought it would be a good idea to test the kit out individually; producing a short video of the results.

I began on the Samyang 14mm T/3.1, an ultra-wide lens that does have barrel distortion if subjects or distinct lines move towards the sides of the frame. Operating the camera handheld on the MODA rig, I was not left much choice but to capture the video in 720p 50 frames per second, to eliminate obvious camera shake. This did work in my favor come later in the day when I was hanging out of a car boot filming!

adam plowden video filming canon 5dmkiii samyang 14mm

To exaggerate the ultra-wide effect, getting close to the ground, walls or your subject will show how wide the image actually is, while offering exquisite sharpness throughout the depth of the image. Moving while operating an ultra-wide also gives a unique changing perspective to the viewer; one that is appealing due to it looking unnatural to our eyes – a great effect for establishing locations in film.

What I did notice was a very strong contrast, even when shooting in Neutral picture style (for a flatter image). This is causing issues in post due to burnt in detail in the highlights and shadows.. So I have adjusted the picture style to my needs by reducing all of the parameters to the lowest level.

Overall, I am ecstatic to finally get my hands on an ultra-wide as I had no way of achieving that perspective with my old kit.

My tips would be to keep the camera stable – use a tripod, shoulder rig or steadicam to operate the camera. This gives you better control and steady visuals that won’t distract the viewer from the awesome visuals.

Judge your highlights and shadows correctly – this is a manual lens, so remember it is easy to stop down to F/6.5 or F/8.3 (uncommon electronic F stops) to expose the image perfectly. With this, always check your focus (use digital zoom!!). The worst thing ever would be to find an awesome flowing shot but it being slightly out of focus.

Experiment using the manual aperture, it will take some time to get used to!

Here is a draft edit that I chucked together from the test day –

On to the Samyang 35mm T/1.5

london filming canon dslr video camsmart moda camera rig

This is a beautiful lens. I’ve only worked with a 35mm F/1.8 for my little Nikon D5000, so as far as experience with 35mm that goes out the window.

What can I say… The 35mm focal distance works so well with the 5D’s full frame sensor, and even at T/5.6 the image was sharp and had a beautiful bokeh. To the other end of the spectrum; I also shot at T/22 to achieve a silhouette effect of Glen and the Houses of Parliament in the background. At this small aperture you would expect loss of detail and softness, but the Samyang 35mm excelled.

Another fantastic benefit of this lens is its minimum focus distance (the minimum distance from the lens to the subject for it to be in focus). It is very small at only 30cm allowing you to get very close to the subject and still achieve pinpoint sharpness and shallow depth of field.

I was filming up in London with my friend Glen, the light was hard when we arrived with strong sunlight beaming through the rain clouds, so to retain good exposure throughout the frame I found myself shooting between T/4 and T/8, varying the ISO depending on the location. For demo purpoes, I also filmed Glen constructing and using the new CamSmart MODA Rig, in innovative new video and photography product aimed at all level of users to achieve exceptional visuals in a cost effective solution.

For this close up, intricate video the 35mm lens was perfect for both wide and close up shots, I get more and more impressed as time passes!

My tips for using the Samyang 35mm T/1.5 cine lens – get yourself some ND filters, or even better variable ND filters as this will reduce the light entering the lens without changing the aperture, shutter or ISO. If you have a lens that is very fast, like this model at T/1.5, to retain a shallow depth of field in a multitude of locations and light levels ND filters are crucial and should be in your kit bag.

Here is the rough edit of the 35mm film! –

Big shout out to Manfrotto for the 055CF tripod, video head and pro backpack, makes a world of difference to my old 055 aluminium model!

Good luck with your shooting, drop us a comment if you have any questions about using the lenses or kit, and be sure to like, follow and share!!

Tokina’s NEW Cine Lenses!

At IBC 2013, Tokina announced a new range of cine lenses for Super35 and Full Frame sensors which include a full line up from 11-16mm, 16-26mm and 50-135mm, all at T3, and all manual.

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I had a chat with Chris, the General Manager of Tokina about the lenses at their booth. He was just as excited as I was about the release of the new range, the 11-16mm especially. This is due to the small sensor size of the Black Magic Cinema Camera, which has a 2x (+-) magnification factor. This causes a standard 16mm lens to be multiplied to around 40mm, so achieving wide angle shots becomes rather difficult.

tokina11-16-1

However (and I had no idea people had been converting the already famous Tokina 11-16mm ATX for Super35 mounts) Tokina saw the potential and grabbed the chance to deliver a sharp, accurate and very bright lens. The build quality is fantastic, and the resulting image is a wonderful wide angle!

tokina11-16-2-1

Chris also talked about the range including the 16-28mm and 50-135mm which is to be released in November this year, I cannot wait to get my hands on one! They did not have the 50-135mm on display, but as you can see from the size of the 16-28mm it will probably be a beast of a piece of glass! I am expecting a separate lens barrel stand or some kind of rig-rail to keep it on the camera!

tokina16-28-2-1

I’m in contact with the guys over at Tokina so I will keep updating on the progress of the lenses and new models!

My experience of IBC 2013 Part 1

I had never been to IBC before, I wanted to go a couple of years ago but I was a little last minute with extremely expensive prices, but now after all the hard uni work and starting myself up as a freelance videographer, a trip to Amsterdam for IBC 2013 was just what I needed! It was also the first time I’ve been on a plane in 11 years, so I was super excited, and acted rather like a tourist for the first couple of days.. But, I have no regrets!

pic10 Myself outside Amsterdam Schipol Airport, great smoking area with all the sunflowers, how Dutch!

Just had a quick thought, for you readers to enjoy your experience reading my blog further, you can listen to what I am listening to while I write it, having withdrawl symptoms from Amsterdam lead me to searching for “Coffeeshop” “Soul” on 8Tracks, hoping for a chilled result 🙂 So here is the playlist you can listen to while reading! Street Cues Sound Clues Amsterdam Withdrawl Playlist on 8Tracks

IMG_9945-1 Amazing Mexican restaurant called ‘La Margarita’ just off the canal, near Amsterdam University (https://plus.google.com/105150292043799825469/about?gl=uk&hl=en) They do great cocktails too, definitely recommend it.


IMG_9948-1 Amsterdam’s coffee shop culture is something to be admired, the liberal and relaxed lifestyle suits me perfectly, and I’m not going to pretend I disagree with coffee shops, because they are awesome. I met more friendly people and generated more work in coffee shops than I do in Starbucks in The UK. In the photo you can see The Bulldog, and further down is the original coffee shop. I did pop in to these, but both were really busy so I skipped off to another in the pouring rain. (https://plus.google.com/112706500562557581286/about?gl=uk&hl=en).

IMG_9950-1 This rather lovely looking church turned out to be a brothel.

IMG_9964-1 Taken from outside The Greenhouse Seed Co Coffee shop, near Dam Square. Sitting outside having a drink by the river is so cool. We had a couple beers over there on the first evening, Duvel! (Cafe Rock Planet)

IMG_9974-1 The view from my hotel window, the Pathe Cinema! (Rembrandtplein).

On the Friday (13th) myself, Amy and Sam made our way to the Amsterdam RAI. We jumped on the tram outside our hotel on Rembrandtplein which took us all the way to IBC, very convenient although it was rammed with suited business-people attending the show! IBC provided free tram travel for the duration of the show which was great for getting around town, until I lost mine.

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We made our way to The IABM stand, near the Future Zone in one of the 14 halls of this massive place, where we met Steve Warner and Sam Hawkins and were presented with the prize money. We also met the other Engineering Student Award winners who came from across the world for IBC; Zoe Wyeth of the University of Salford, Julian Theis of the RheinMain University of Applied Sciences, Adam Plowden and Amy Tinker of Kingston University, Pierre Hamme-Gerome and Antonin Morel of the Université de Valenciennes, Kathryn Savage of Southampton Solent University, Lennard Bredenkamp of HTWK Leipzig, and Evgenii Smirnov and Anna Nikolaeva of St. Petersburg State University of Film and Television. (Photos are coming from The IABM in the next couple of days).

The rest of the day was spent wondering around, wowing and touching all the amazing new technology and equipment, which I will upload the photos of soon! There will also be video blog entries uploaded very soon too, including interviews with manufacturers, designers, and a film of Amsterdam too, yes ‘Ive been busy!

BlackMagic Design had a fantastic booth exhibiting many of their Cinema and Pocket cameras in different set-ups, as well as demonstrations of the new 6G production switcher, and the newly released DaVinci Resolve 10. As I am looking to upgrade cameras, the BMCC is definitely an option for me, as the price of the unit and features weigh it up considerably as a mid range cinema camera, rather than a simple DSLR upgrade. Also, as I discovered, Tokina had been hard at work on an 11-16mm T3 cine lens for Super35 sensors, demonstrated on a BMCC at their booth; finally opening up wide angle shots which had previously been restricted due to the 2.2x mag factor. More info on the NEW Tokina releases can be seen in an upcoming video with the Director of Tokina himself!

tokina11-16-1 tokina16-28-1

There will be much much much more coming soon, I just have to get through the video editing and chuck it all together, but please be patient, they are coming 🙂

As for future work and plans, I was due to produce a couple of videos for some classic RV’s, with Joel from London Event Photography however thanks to the terrific English weather it was called off. Also got some top secret work with a manufacturer coming up, as well as a possible booking to go back to Amsterdam for the end of November.. IE.. My 22nd Birthday!! We shall see..

All the best for now you wonderful people! If you haven’t checked out this kind of teaser video then please do 🙂

http://vimeo.com/74469276