Saturday, October 30, 2010


A while back I got very interested in timelapse video after seeing this timelapse by Philip Bloom: Dungeness Timelapse experiment. I did some experiments using a Canon DSLR, and got somewhat promising results (the test video wasn't that spectacular visually, but it proved that the method basically worked.)

But after a bit of experimenting, I found out a few things:
  1. I mostly couldn't be bothered going through all the hassle of setting up a DSLR for a two or three hour long sequence
  2. The process is quite involved; both getting the right camera settings, as well as dealing with all the images afterwards
  3. I found that the effect I wanted to achieve - the accelerated movement of clouds in the sky - didn't really require as much work because it could be accomplished with sub-fifteen minute sequences
The last detail is important. What I found was that - stars orbiting through space excepted - what I mostly liked in timelapses was the acceleration of clouds moving across the sky, and I really don't like cars, people and boats zooming about the screen.

What this basically translated into is:
  1. For a five to ten second sequence, about 12 minutes is all I need
  2. I can shoot that with my video camera, and then accelerate it in Final Cut to get the result I wanted
So I've given up on the DSLR timelapses, and taken to using video cameras instead. It's probably a relief for all concerned, as the constant clicking of the shutter really freaked me out; I kept feeling like I was wearing my camera out before my eyes!

Now there are advantages to using a DSLR rather than a video camera, because you can have it record a single frame every x minutes or seconds, and you can have that exposure happen for multiple seconds/minutes. This can be desirable for special effects: shooting in low light, or creating a very blurred motion (like a blurred waterfall.) I'm not saying that DSLR's don't have their advantages and uses, I just realized that I'm okay with a simpler effect.

Clip Acceleration
The example below shows a 3:15 clip accelerated to 500%, 1000%, 2000% and 4000%. I really like the effect in the last two examples. This was done in Final Cut Pro using the Change Speed function.

For those interested in traditional timelapse, the following resources may be useful.


Philip Bloom: DSLR Timelapses addictive, frustrating and often rewarding…

Make: Panning time lapse using a kitchen timer
A timelapse taken with a GoPro on a kitchen timer. Interesting effect, though it's got the people jumping about.

YouTube: Two Axis Panning Timelapse Head for DSLR (ready to buy)
Something for those that want to get into more sophisticated movement of the camera during the sequence shooting.

After Effects Portal: GBDeflicker, Color Stabilizer, or Tinderbox T_Deflicker
Sometimes you get flicker in your sequence of images. This post covers some filters that can fix this.

Granite Bay Software: GBDeflicker product page
Filter for removing flicker in sequences

Apple Discussions: Quicktime 7 Pro Open Image Sequence Fails
Philip Bloom describes using QuickTime Player to combine a sequence of images into a movie, but some users have run into problems with this feature, which this discussion thread covers.

1 comment:

Paul said...

That's what I've always done. Here's my latest sample, which varies the acceleration from 1300% to 2500%:

I shot it with the new Sony NEX-VG10. Rather than timing micro-movements for panning, I zoomed into the 1080p frame during post and then panned within that space.