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Time-Lapse Proof Of Extreme Ice Loss


A little different from our usual content. This video is a Ted talk by James Balog, who is a nature photographer with over 40 years of experience.
In the video, James presents time-lapse proof of extreme ice loss in the polar ice caps.
The video was shot by what is called the ‘Extreme Ice Survey’, a network of time-lapse cameras set up to recording glaciers that are receding at an alarming rate. This video is put forward as evidence of climate change.

It doesn’t matter where you sit politically on the climate change debate. I think we can all appreciate the great work in creating this time-lapse video footage.

Extreme Ice Survey

James founded the Extreme Ice Survey program project in 2007, as part of the Earth Vision Institute. The goals of the program are to provide scientists with much-needed data on climate change, along with educating the public with first-hand evidence on how fast the earth is changing.

The Challenges

Filming a long-term time-lapse sequence in an environment like antartica like this is no easy feat. Not only do you have to find a way to power your camera(s) for weeks or even months on end, but everything has to keep working in extreme weather conditions and temperatures as low as -76°F (-60°C).

The Setup

This ambitious project includes 27 individual Nikon D200 cameras anchored to cliff faces overlooking the glaciers.

Each camera is housed in a waterproof and dust-proof pelican case, powered by a battery and solar panel (to keep the battery topped-up).

In order to stand up to the harsh arctic winds, the camera units are secured with a complex system of anchors and guy-wires.

Custom software triggers each camera to take a picture every hour, but only during daylight hours. Each camera takes a total of around 8,000 photos each year.

Editing Timelapse On iPhone

There are a lot of choices when it comes to creating and editing timelapse on iOS devices. Many programs are designed to capture and compile a timelapse, but with limited editing functions – some will simply allow you to adjust playback speeds, while others will give a large latitude of control. Check these apps out.

Options For Capturing and Editing Your time-lapse:

First Option, shoot in Built-In time-lapse mode

If you open the camera, and swipe through the shooting modes, there is a time-lapse mode on the iPhone. Open the Camera app, then select the Time Lapse shooting mode. Adjust exposure to how you would prefer, and set the focus like a still image. You are likely going to want to tap and hold in order to lock the focus and exposure for time-lapse. Once you have these things set, tap the red shutter button.

Once you are finished shooting your time-lapse, push the shutter button again. Your time-lapse will save in the Photos app on the phone.

Built-in time-lapse functionality has the benefit of simplicity – it’s already there, installed and ready to use. No messing about installing apps and transferring/importing photos.

The downside with this is that you don’t have much control. You can not change frame-rate or playback speed. The program determines the number of frames captured each second. You can however, edit the video in iMovie on iPhone, which I will go into later…

Second Option, A time-lapse-specific App

You will be able to take advantage of a wealth of added features and functionality by installing an app to your smartphone.

Hyperlapse From Instagram

The key feature of Hyperlapse from Instagram is the built-in stabilization. The app does allow control over the speed of playback varying from 1-12x the capture duration. There aren’t many more features here, but if you want to create a timelapse quickly and simply, this is something you should consider. Stabilization is something that can be very helpful.


Lapse-It is a time-lapse specific program that offers the user control over framerates in capture as well as playback. It has some video filters that can be applied to your time-lapses as well. It is simple, and the ability to set frame rates is valuable, and it also allows you to import video or photos to be compiled and edited in Lapse-it. It does allow some pretty dramatic control over playback speeds as well.

More Advanced Options


iMotion is another time-lapse capture app for iOS. It gives control over exposure, white balance, orientation and more. There is a manual mode to allow more control over focus and the app can be used as a wireless remote (when paired with Apple Watch).

You can shoot time-lapses at up to 10FPS – meaning the camera will take up to 10 photographs a second. The framerate of playback can be set as well, giving you more freedom when creating your time-lapses. iMotion also allows you to reverse your time-lapse sequence. iMotion also has the ability to export to 4k.

iMotion can import photos to be compiled or incorporated into a time-lapse or stop-motion, so you can use iMotion to do basic editing of a time-lapse series of photographs that weren’t created within iMotion. You can also export your time-lapse as a video, series of photographs or an animated GIF. This is a well-featured time-lapse editing and capture app.

Timelapse for iOS

Timelapse is another time-lapse capture app, but with dedicated editing tools exceeding any of the apps mentioned previously. It offers controls like saturation, brightness, contrast and exposure. It also allows you to capture frames in RAW and export/record in 4k. The RAW support is quite useful, as is the 4k support. The program allows virtually any frame rate for capture and playback, and also offers speed adjustments.

Time-lapse for iOS also has deflicker capabilities to keep even brightness throughout the video, something unique to this software. Adjustments can be made to a degree which simply isn’t available in competing software. Tilt-shift simulation is available. Frame by frame editing is possible. The sequencer and editor in the app allows you to import images you have already taken to compile a professional-looking time-lapse. This truly is a time-lapse editor and an app to capture time-lapse stills. One issue with this program is the fact that there hasn’t been an update in several years. Despite this, it is still the most feature-rich iOS time-lapse app available.

Additional Editing

iMovie for iOS

Once you have your time-lapse, you may want to add titles, transitions, additional or new audio or filters. You may want to stabilize the video. If you are working with an iPhone, iMovie for iOS is a good option. You could add multiple time-lapses together with transitions between them, voice over your time-lapse, add music, titles, etc.

There are other options as well for editing video on iOS, but iMovie is very well-featured and stands out as the best solution to add any finishing touches to your time-lapse video.


Can I Slow Down Time-Lapse on an iPhone?

This is a common question. If you have a time-lapse video in your iPhone, but it plays too fast, then you might want to ‘stretch it out’ so that the footage doesn’t flash past too quickly.

The software we recommended above may help you do this to an extent, causing the video to play over a longer timeframe, however it cannot add in new frames that weren’t there before. What you will end up with is duplicated frames, causing each frame to stay longer on the screen.  This may or may not be what you are after, so my recommendation would be to give it a go and see how it turns out!

Can I Change The Time-Lapse Speed On iPhone?

Depending on the amount you’d like to change the speed of a time-lapse video, you can stretch or compress it using smartphone apps. You’re not going to get as good a result as if the video was shot correctly in the first place, however this may not matter in practice. When compressing a video, the framerate will increase as a result. However if you set the correct framerate during rendering, then this should be corrected.

When stretching a time-lapse video, the framerate will decrease. Setting the framerate when rendering won’t have the same effect as frames will be repeated.

The best thing to do is give it a go and see if the results you get are good enough for your needs.

Can I use my DSLR to shoot timelapse without an intervalometer?

Well, the simple answer is yes. However, I have a follow-up. Is it that you don’t want to use an intervalometer, or is it that you just don’t have one available? And, secondly, are you sure you don’t have an intervalometer?

You may have an intervalometer after all

You should check your camera’s menu and manual. For the version of canon firmware I am using, for example, the intervalometer is labeled as “interval timer” in the fourth table in the menu under the camera icon. If you enable the “interval timer”, you can set the time between each exposure. You can change camera settings while these exposures are being taken. I would make sure you don’t have some sort of built-in intervalometer before considering shooting time-lapse without one – unless there’s a specific aesthetic reason you don’t want to use a consistent interval. If you intend to shoot a timelapse without identical intervals, you are likely going to want to consider a remote shutter.

If your camera doesn’t have an “interval timer” or “intervalometer”, you should also see if it has an option to create a time-lapse video. If going directly to video suits you, many cameras also have this function. On the Canon firmware I use, if you select video mode, then go to the menu, “Time Lapse Movie” is an option that will create a video with the interval you want defining each frame.

Most time-lapse projects will use an intervalometer. An intervalometer is a device which will set the span of time between each exposure, creating equal duration between each capture and generally creating the most consistent pace to your time-lapse. Although intervalometers are common among time-lapse photographers, they are not essential. If you do not have access to an intervalometer and your camera doesn’t have one built-in, there are several other methods you may use to make your time-lapse.

Use your phone as an intervalometer

Many cameras have wifi, Bluetooth connectivity, or NFC. If this is the case with your camera, there is most likely an app that you can get for a computer, tablet, or smartphone which will allow you to use the phone or tablet as an intervalometer and define the time between each capture, or at least function as a remote shutter. There are also applications for your laptop that can control your camera.

Here are some examples:

qDslrDashboard is a timelapse-specific control app for Nikon and Canon and Sony cameras. It is available for iOS, Android, Mac, & PC

PlayMemories is the smartphone camera control app by Sony (available for iOS and Android)

Canon Connect is the smartphone camera control app by Canon (available for iOS and Android) *Does not have intervalometer, but can work as remote shutter.
EOS Utility Can be connected via USB and run time-lapses on Canon. Minimum interval is around 10 seconds. This application comes with most of the Canons, but here is a link.
Magic Lantern For canon users – an enhanced firmware for the DIGIC 5 and previous image processor canons.

Image Sync is the smartphone camera control app by Pentax (available for iOS and Android)

Wireless Mobile Utility is the smartphone camera control app by Nikon (available for iOS and Android)

Panasonic Image App is the smartphone camera control app by Panasonic (available for iOS and Android)

DigiCamControl is a third party software that allows you to control your camera from your computer. Works with many Nikon, Canon, and Sony cameras)

There are more apps than the above available, and I would do your research to find the app that works for you.

For the more experienced and tech savvy, I would suggest qDslrDashboard with LRTimelapse if you are shooting time-lapse. It is relatively involved and may take some getting used to, but it will offer the best results. The app can be used in circumstances in which the lighting changes (including “holy grail” time-lapse – shooting a time-lapse spanning sunrise/sunset). You are going to want Lightroom if you want more than just the ability to render to video – LRTimelapse uses Lightroom to make adjustments across your time-lapse.

Another good piece of software for Canon is Magic Lantern. It updates the camera’s software to give more advanced features. This includes an intervalometer, so if your canon doesn’t have one built-in, it may be a good idea to consider Magic Lantern, however, there isn’t a version available for Canon DIGIC 6 & DIGIC 7 image processors as of this writing.

Remote Shutter

If you can’t sync wirelessly to smartphone or computer, or prefer not to, then you should consider getting a more conventional remote shutter. For modern DSLRs, a remote shutter is a device which allows you to release the shutter without physically touching the camera. Most DSLR cameras will have a remote shutter control input, so you could have a physically tethered remote shutter if wireless is not available or not your preference. There are also remote shutters that work through Wifi, Bluetooth or NFC, but, rather than being controlled by your phone or computer, they are controlled by a device much like a television remote. If you were to use a remote shutter, then you would simply have to press the shutter button each time you want to capture an image. I would suggest that you determine a duration between each photograph for your time-lapse, and either monitor your watch or some other timer and release the shutter at roughly the same interval between each capture.

Going Primitive

If a remote shutter isn’t something you can use or have available for your time-lapse, you may also release the shutter on the camera. Keep in mind that you almost certainly do not want the camera to move while you take your time-lapse shots. Ideally, you would have a solid tripod or mounting device whenever shooting time-lapse so that the camera won’t move – that said, having to touch the camera dozens of times at minimum is likely to slightly move the camera. If you must do this, consider live-view mode – especially if there is a touch-to-release shutter option in the menu. This will allow for a gentle touch to release the shutter. Try to press it gently, as even small changes in the position of the camera will likely be visible in the final time-lapse video. Monitor a watch or some other timing device to alert you to when it is time to take the next exposure. For time-lapse it is not typically essential for the duration between each exposure to be precisely the same, however, you want the exposures to be spaced by a somewhat similar amount of time or to contain a similar amount of action in order to get the presentation to appear like sped motion.

If you do not use a remote shutter or app, and you must physically touch the camera, you may find that your time-lapse requires some post-production. You may want to consider some of the video editing programs that include a camera stabilization plug-in or perhaps utilize some of the time-lapse software available to adjust the framing of the image if you have any camera movement. And if you plan to continue shooting time-lapse, certainly consider getting an intervalometer!

Can I Make a Timelapse Video from Pictures?

The simple answer is yes.

Time-lapse is typically created by taking still images and using them as frames for a video or film. This allows time to move forward more quickly depending on the interval between each photograph.

You are very unlikely to be able to decide to produce a time-lapse after having taken photographs – unless very short, time-lapse is something you are going to need to plan to create. If you were thinking you might be able to make a time-lapse out of a dozen handheld photographs, well, you could, but you must remember that most video is between 24 and 30 frames per second and almost all time-lapse is shot from a tripod (for good reason).

The absolute minimum frame-rate for motion to appear smooth is typically 12 frames per second – so a dozen photographs could become as much as a second. The use of a sequence of still images, displayed sequentially, has been used since to create even the earlier motion pictures. Early examples of film, such as “Sallie Gardner At A Gallopwere essentially timelapses. These early motion pictures were a series of still images replayed at between 12 and 24 frames per second, which gives the appearance of a consistently moving picture. Now, mind you, 12 frames per second is generally not recommended, 24 is a standard minimum frame-rate. I personally shoot 24 images for each second of video I want to produce. Some shoot 25fps and 30fps as well, which coordinates with the NTSC and PAL framerates.

So, if you do have an image sequence which you intend to make a time-lapse from, the other issue is going to be camera stability and perspective. If the images were shot hand-held, there will be changes in both the framing and the perspective. This can be overcome, however, it will take some effort! You will need to become familiar with some pretty advanced software such as Adobe AfterEffects, Premiere, Apple Final Cut Pro, Motion or similar. You could fix the movement in the camera using simpler software, but this will require you to reposition each photograph individually to create the same framing in each image. Regardless of the software, you will need to expand and crop in order to stabilize the image. It will be very difficult to create the product you have in your mind’s eye retrospectively. Trust me, you want to shoot your time-lapse with a stable camera.

This is why it is essential to plan your time-lapse and to shoot either on a tripod or some other stable mounting device. You want to create a number of shots which will showcase the movement you are trying to capture over the duration you would like it to appear – typically 24, 25 or 30 shots per second – for every second of video, you will need one still image for every frame. For example, for a 10 second time-lapse, I would capture a minimum of 240 stills. Many use 30fps, meaning 10 seconds would require 300 still images.

Timelapse Software

Once you have the images for your time-lapse, you are going to need to compile them into a video. There are many ways to do this, including open source time-lapse software, video editing programs, and apps for your phone, as well as dedicated time-lapse programs.

There are open-source and freeware options for compiling still images into video. Some options include VLC, which allows you to assign still images as frames. There is also Timelapsetool (Windows), Timelapse Creator (Windows), and Timelase Assembler (Mac). If you are using a smartphone, there are options as well, such as TimeLapse Camera (Android), and Timelapse (iOS).

For more features and control, especially for the Adobe Suite user, there is LRTimelapse. LRTimelapse allows you to use RAW images and coordinates with Adobe Lightroom. This allows you to apply adjustments and filters to multiple or all photographs in the time-lapse – it will also transition between these adjustments to allow a smooth appearance. LRTimelapse does offer a very well-featured trial version for free. If you are using Lightroom, the LRTimelapse’s free demo is your best option – give it a shot – even with the limitations, the trial version is a far more robust piece of software than anything else you will find. To learn more about LRTimelapse, read our review to gain some insight.

Lastly, you can also use most video editing programs to create a time-lapse. First, obviously, you are going to import the still images. If these are RAW, you will likely need to create JPEGs. After importing, when you place them into the timeline. When adding to the timeline, they will occupy the duration determined either by your preferences or by the programs default settings. Change these settings to a single-frame duration for stills, and then import them into the timeline. This is roughly the procedure for most video editing suites. Make sure your project is at the framerate you intended to use when you captured the images. Most video editing software will automatically be set to 30, 29.97 or 25fps – make sure to adjust to your time-lapse needs.

Learning is the key to success

Whilst it’s easy to get started with time-lapse, getting a professional result is another matter. If you’re just getting started, follow our beginner’s guide.

As well as learning the necessary skills and techniques, you will then want to invest in the right equipment. Here’s our guide to what gear you’ll need.

Can I Convert A Video Into A Time-lapse Video On iPhone?

iPhone video editing apps

So you’ve recorded a great video of something happening over time, but the video is just too long. Maybe there’s a way to speed it up. So you’re wondering, Can I convert a video into a time-lapse video on an iPhone?
Yes, it’s entirely possible to convert any suitable video into time-lapse using an iPhone app.

If you don’t have an iPhone, perhaps you have a PC instead, then our full Turn a video into a time-lapse guide will provide a range of options.

On an Apple iPhone, there are many ways to create a time-lapse from an existing video. You will have many apps to choose from, I am just going to go over a couple.

First, you need to understand what time-lapse is, before you learn how to create one on an iPhone.

The essential element of a time-lapse sequence is the effect of accelerated movement or the speeding up of time. A video is shot at a specific frame rate, likely 30 frames per second. On playback, that video is also viewed at 30 frames per second, so the video possesses a natural rate of time progression.

“This is fundamentally how the ‘speeding up’ of time happens – you are literally playing the frames back at a faster rate.”

In time-lapse however, you are capturing maybe 1 frame per second; maybe 1 frame per minute; maybe 1 frame in an hour, but you are using the playback frame rate of usually 30 frames per second. This means if you use 1 frame for every second, and play at 30 frames per second, 30 seconds of real-time will have elapsed during the 1 second of the time-lapse viewed on playback. This is fundamentally how the ‘speeding up’ of time happens – you are literally playing the frames back at a faster rate.

In order to create a time-lapse from an existing video on an iPhone, you need only to find a program you like that will allow you to speed the video.

Options for creating your time-lapse from video on iPhone

In order to turn your video into a time-lapse, you will first need to install an app to your iPhone. We found that the first app did the trick, but we have listed some others in case it becomes available or if you find it doesn’t meet all of your needs.

iMovie for iOS would be a natural choice for taking a video sequence and speeding it to a time-lapse. iMovie is a well-featured video editing app for iOS, and it includes the ability to increase the speed of video. It also has the ability to select individual frames to extract from your video and create a still image. If you were so inclined, you could use this feature to select the individual frames of your time-lapse.

Lapse It LogoLapse-It is another option. Lapse-It is a tool for capturing time-lapse sequences as well as for editing them. You can import into Lapse-It and adjust the playback speed and frame rate settings in order to get the speed and aesthetic you desire.

Slow Fast Slow is yet another program to increase the playback speed of video on iPhone.

SpeedPro is yet another program which will give you control over the playback speed of your videos.

Another great app for time-lapse is iMotion. iMotion has good import and export options, and give a lot of control over playback speed and frame rates.

The bottom line:

In conclusion, I would say iMovie for iOS is the best place to start. iMotion is another app that seems to have good features for composing time-lapse videos, whether from stills or existing videos. If you find the apps will not allow you to increase the speed adequately, you may render or export the video, then apply speed adjustments to the video after re-importing it. In other words, if you adjust the speed of a video, export it and rename it, then import the newly created video, you can adjust the speed yet again and export.

I hope this was helpful!

Other Ideas

As well as choosing the right app, you might consider some hardware and accessories helpful for creating better time-lapse videos on your smartphone.

Perhaps the accessory I use often is this [amazon text=Smartphone camera lens kit&asin=B07K8CRWJK]. It’s universal, meaning it fits pretty much any smartphone including all iPhones. You can switch out the lenses to achieve some great effects. I use the wide-angle lens mostly for some stunning footage of landscapes.

If you’re serious about shooting top quality time-lapse footage on your iPhone, then this [amazon text=Smartphone tripod&asin=B07WRLK7MF] is a must-have. It’s just as good as a DSLR tripod, but you can clip your phone in. It also includes a Bluetooth remote for wobble-free shutter firing.

If you’re just looking for a tripod you can slip in your pocket and shoot the occasional impromptu time-lapse footage, then consider this cool little [amazon text=pocket tripod&asin=B01NGTBA3E].

How to produce smooth timelapse videos.

Smooth Waterfall

When shooting a time-lapse, sometimes the footage can come off jerky or jumpy – it is often referred to as the staccato effect. This is when the exposure times for each image in the time-lapse are too short to incorporate enough motion blur to allow the moving elements of the scene to smoothly transition frame to frame. Because there is little to no motion blur, these moving elements in your scene seem to jerk or jump around.

The staccato effect is not to be confused with camera shake, which is when the camera moves during your time-lapse. In order to make sure your time-lapse appears smooth, make sure there is no camera shake. First, make sure you’re using the best time-lapse camera you can afford. Any decent DSLR should have image stabilisation and decent optics.

Place the camera on a solid and secure tripod and avoid moving or jostling the camera while you are capturing your time-lapse. If the camera does get jostled, camera shake will require video stabilization in port production. Don’t jostle the camera and make sure it is securely mounted and this will not be an issue for you.

Exposure Time

The first step to producing smooth time-lapse videos is to make sure that the exposure time will take into consideration the movement between each frame. You want a degree of motion blur to work as a segue from one image to the next. This can be achieved by using relatively long shutter speeds.

Although using smaller apertures is a common way to extend the exposure time for single stills, it is not the best solution for time-lapse. Depending on the lens, it may introduce flicker into your time-lapse. This should not be an issue if you are using lenses with a manual aperture ring, however, if your lens does not have a manual aperture ring, consider using ND filters. Even if you are using a manual aperture lens, ND filters are often an ideal solution to extend the exposure times. They will limit the amount of light coming through your lens, stopping the exposure down. This can allow you to have more control over the exposure times during bright time-lapse shots.

Another means by which you can extend the exposure time is to use the lower ISO numbers available on your camera. This will reduce the sensor sensitivity to light, thereby allowing longer exposures. Often you will be using low ISO numbers and applying ND filters to further extend the exposure times. Low ISO numbers also have generally higher dynamic range – if you can, find out what ISO gives your camera it’s highest dynamic range (the native ISO), and use ND filters with this ISO setting for the best results.

You may also use the aperture but beware. Between each shot, the aperture will automatically reopen to its widest to allow more light to hit the sensor or mirror to make metering and focusing more easy on the user and camera. This often results in each shot having a slight difference in aperture as the blades are opening and then re-closing for each successive exposure, and they often will not produce the exact same aperture size. This is not an issue if you are using the maximum aperture of the lens. Again, if you want to use apertures other than the maximum of the lens, this problem can be solved with a manual aperture lens. Either way, keep in mind that using very high apertures can also produce artefacts in your images. Even small pieces of dust on the lens or sensor are more visible in the higher apertures (around 18 and above), so keep that in mind.

Post Production

If the time-lapse you have already shot is riddled with the staccato effect, then there are some solutions in post-production.

The first thing you’re going to want to do is to reduce flicker. Fir this, the best time-lapse software for the job would probably be LRTimelapse.

For starters, the simplest option would be to create your video, then open that video in a program like Adobe Premiere or Apple Final Cut Pro, and add motion blur. There are two simple ways of doing this in FCP, one would be downloading this motion blur plug-in. This will generate motion blur, however, I think it takes the dropped frames from a sped-up video and makes use of those, so I don’t know how effective it will be when you aren’t speeding the footage. However, if you did speed your time-lapse video, you could apply this effectively, I am sure. Another option is the trails effect in final cut pro. I would give these a try first, as they are simple and quick. There are similar options for Premiere. The echo effect works similarly to the trails effect in FCPX. There is also Pixel Motion Blur available for Premiere.

“The simplest option would be to create your video, then open that video in a program like Adobe Premiere or Apple Final Cut Pro, and add motion blur”

Yet another option will work regardless of the non-linear editor you are using, so long as it supports multiple video tracks and has the ability to manipulate opacity. The idea is to stack multiple video tracks atop one another off-set by one or more frames, with varying opacity. This will create a sort of motion blur by having the previous and following frames composited over the current frame at a lower opacity. You may also use all of these technics together – using multiple video tracks with slightly off-set timing, and including the above-described effects on some of the video channels. There is a good overview of fixing the staccato problem using the Adobe programs Premiere and AfterEffects here. A similar protocol can be followed on Apple programs as well.

Lastly, if you do end up with camera shake, Final Cut Pro and Premiere have tools to remedy these issues as well. Though there are limitations, you will find mild shake can be dealt with using the video stabilization tools in either program. Due to the stabilization filter having to change the position of the image in the video in order to stabilize it, you will likely have to crop the image somewhat after applying the stabilization. This will be true for a large number of other video editing suites in addition to FCP and Premiere.

Best Compact Camera For Time-lapse

Compact Camera

You already know that you want a compact and not a full DSLR Camera to shoot time-lapse. But beyond that, you’re not sure which one is best. We’ve researched some options and present them below.

When considering a compact camera for time-lapse, there are several things the perfect camera would have. The ideal camera would be physically small when stored. Some cameras may be physically small, but if the lens is interchangeable, it likely does not retract, meaning that the camera size in storage will be larger as you will have to have a lens with it.

A key element would be the ability to manually focus – you don’t want the focus shifting in the middle of a time-lapse shoot, so manual focus is a must. You also want to be able to manipulate shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and white balance manually to get the effect you are looking for in your time-lapse. The last thing you need is for the aperture or white balance to change in the middle of your shoot. Manual functions are a must.

Something that may not be as obvious and is quite rare among compact cameras, can be highly significant: weather sealing. Weather sealing will allow you to confidently take your camera into the elements and continue shooting or trekking to a shoot when other cameras might be in danger of water damage. You do not want water damage, you want weather sealing. (weather sealing doesn’t mean waterproof, more similar to “water-resistant”)

Another feature that can be highly useful for a time-lapse shooter is an articulating viewing screen. This is useful if you are shooting from a low or awkward perspective. Without an articulating screen, you may find yourself in a strange posture in order to get the framing and focus you want. With an articulating screen, however, you have the freedom to place the camera virtually anywhere and still get a good view of the viewfinder.

You also want connectivity. A shutter remote input and/or NFC, Bluetooth or WiFi are highly useful. Such connectivity will allow you to use remote applications for your smart device and/or computer to control your camera.

Neutral density filters, or ND filters, will reduce the amount of light coming through the lens without affecting the image in any other (significant) way. These are valuable for shots in a bright setting and will allow you to use longer shutter speeds to get the effect you want. The ability to use ND filters is highly valuable when shooting time-lapse, so a camera that can accommodate filters on the lens, or has ND filters built in will be highly desirable.

A long battery and/or extended battery options are also important to a good time-lapse camera. If you want to take a longer time-lapse, you don’t want your camera pooping out on you!

The final thing I am going to mention has to do with image quality. You want nice looking images, and you want to be able to control your time-lapse in post. You want to be shooting in RAW. You also want a relatively large sensor, especially for a night or “holy grail” time-lapse. You want a nice lens with good focal length options and apertures for your time-lapse. You also want a camera with ample dynamic range.

Keeping the above in mind, here is the compact camera I feel is most up to the task:

The Canon G1XIII has a lot of desirable features that are rare in cameras of this size. It is weather-sealed, and is quite compact, especially when turned off, thanks to the lens recessing into the camera body. It has an articulating rear display. It allows manual shutter, aperture, focus, ISO and white balance. The camera can shoot in the Canon RAW format or JPEG. It includes some built-in ND filters and the lens has a filter thread, so a polarizer, UV filter or different ND filters could be used. The lens is pretty versatile, being the 35mm equivalent of 24-70mm, and the maximum aperture is f2.8 – a wider aperture would be nice for low-light or shallow depth of field, but f2.8 is a pretty good maximum aperture for time-lapse. The zoom range is not excellent but covers the most integral focal lengths for general photography as well as time-lapse photography. It has a hot-shoe and a built-in flash. It has a 24.2MP APS-C sensor; quite remarkable for a compact camera. It has a remote shutter switch input. The ISO range of 100-25600 is pretty broad for a compact camera, although over 1600 noise starts to become an issue. There is a built-in time-lapse mode, which uses each capture as a frame in a time-lapse video – sadly, this only creates 1080p .mp4 at 29.97fps. So, the time-lapse movie mode is not the means I would suggest for shooting time-lapse.

Despite having loads of qualities uniquely valuable to a time-lapse photographer in such a small package, the Canon G1XIII has two critical defects. First, there is not an interval-timer or intervalometer built-in the firmware. The camera does have wireless connectivity, so you can get an app to control the shutter with your phone, a wireless remote, or a wireless intervalometer. Another option is the firmware augmentation software, CHDK. CHDK can be loaded onto an SD card, and run on your camera, giving it more functions. There is a version of CHDK for the G1X series and instructions on how to load the new features that come with it on the site. It is free, and with a little effort, you can have a camera with a built-in intervalometer, weather sealing, RAW capture, built-in ND filters and an APS-C sensor that literally fits in your pocket.

One other thing about the G1XIII: battery life. It is rated at 200 shots, which rises to 250 shots using “eco” mode. Although shooting a time-lapse will likely consume less battery in most situations, if we use 250 as a guide, it is clear to see that we have another obstacle for those that want somewhat longer time-lapses. There is a solution to this, and it comes in a compact and convenient form; use a portable power source (one like those used for smartphones) and connect using the USB. This will extend the battery life to the life of the external battery. So, all you need is a small tripod, a camera that comfortably fits into a pocket and possibly an external cellphone battery and you can be shooting professional time-lapse.

Can I turn a video into a time-lapse?

Photo editing software

So you’ve just started learning about creating time-lapse videos from scratch using your camera. You may have produced a few videos and invested in an intervalometer (or time-lapse controller) and tripod. That’s great, but you start thinking about existing videos you may have filmed of sunsets, road traffic or the night sky. Is it possible to somehow take these long videos and turn them into a time-lapse video?

Can I turn a video into a time-lapse?

In a word, yes. You absolutely can create a time-lapse from a video file. You are going to need some means by which to extract frames or speed up your video. Thankfully, there are many time-lapse software options for you to choose from.

Video Production Software for desktop computers

If you want to convert an existing video into time-lapse, using a desktop or laptop will give you the most control over the final product generally. Computers also have more raw processor power, meaning they can typically process large amounts of data much quicker than say, a smartphone. There are a vast number of software programs out there that will allow you to produce time-lapse from an existing video.

Professional Video Editing Software

If you are looking to produce a time-lapse from existing video footage, then the obvious choice would be a robust video editing program such as Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro. These two programs, along with several others, will give you the most comprehensive control over your video and provide the best results when converting a video file into a time-lapse.

First, you will import the video file into the editing program. Next, you will increase the speed of the video by using the re-timing tools. You might find our time-lapse calculator will come in handy for this step. This will drop frames and result in the same effect a time-lapse has – sped motion. You can further modify the video to give the final product a more desirable aesthetic from here, adding motion blur, stabilizing the camera, etc.

In addition to these two programs, there are lots of other video editing software suites that will allow you to retime your videos, and some time-lapse specific plug-ins exist as well. If you are using an editing suite on your laptop or desktop, there is likely a means by which you can speed the footage, which will ultimately have the same general effect as a time-lapse.

Beginners and beyond

Filmora is a popular video editor that has features geared to making time-lapses. It has a feature called the action cam tool, which will allow you to extract frames, reducing the total number of frames and increasing the perceived speed of the video. It also allows you to simply increase the speed of the clips. Movavi Video Editor Plus offers similar functionality as well. Both are available for Mac and PC. iMovie is also an option for Mac users.

VLC; Nifty and free

Yet another option to consider is VLC. If you are running VLC as an administrator, it comes with several functions which you can use in order to compose a time-lapse from your video. First, you will have to define how VLC will extract frames, then you will take the extracted frames and recompile them in VLC into a new video. This is explained comprehensively here.

Editing Video Into Time-lapse On iOS & Android Devices

You don’t need to use a computer in order to convert your video to a time-lapse. You can do this function even on iPhones and Android devices. There are more than one option to do this, just like for desktop. For Android, there is Microsoft Hyperlapse Mobile. After you install the time-lapse app, choose import and select the video you want to convert into a time-lapse. Once the video loads, you will have options as to the speed of your time-lapse. The app will let you preview different speeds. Once you have the pace you like, you can export it as a new video.

For iOS, try slow fast slow. This software also allows you to load already existing video files and increase the speed. Although this isn’t quite the same as a time-lapse, the ultimate effect is. There are some other apps out there as well, for example, lapse it works with both Android and iOS and is worth looking into.

Making time-lapse easier

If you find the whole process of creating time-lapse videos too stressful or time-consuming, and you’d just like something you can ‘set and forget’, then you might want to check out a [amazon text=dedicated time-lapse camera&asin=B006ICOK00]. While many professional photographers would scoff at such a basic solution, these cameras are great if you’re just looking to get the job done with a minimum of fuss.

If you’re more serious about creating time-lapse videos however, and budget isn’t the main constraint, you can’t get better than the [amazon text=new MacBook Pro&asin=B081FXFZSL]. This powerhouse of a laptop computer will run the latest video rendering software with ease. MacBooks are also known to hold their value, so you’re unlikely going to upgrade for years to come.

The bottom line:

If you already have a video and want to turn it into a time-lapse, then it’s just a matter of speeding it up using the right software.

Timelapse Photography as a Hobby for Those with Autism

Photographer with camera

Although individuals with autism often have hobbies typical for their age group, they can also be drawn to more procedural, ‘making’ type activities. Time-lapse photography can serve these types of interests either as an augment or as a core activity. If you are looking for hobbies for yourself or someone else, here are some ideas that time-lapse could enhance.

Legos with time-lapse

Legos are a common interest for those with autism. The building elements and step-by-step instructions allow for the progressive development of a more grandiose product. This progress can be beautifully shown through time-lapse and can be enjoyed long after the particular set has been taken down. Not only will a time-lapse photo capture the final product, but also the journey to get there.

Making with time-lapse

Many individuals with autism are quite good at dissembling and/or building contraptions or other objects ranging from simple electronics to smaller engines. This may lead to the creation of new devices with varying capabilities such as prototypes that may work at lifting or moving and can serve as a learning or teaching tool. Time-lapse particularly serves this as it will give the opportunity to not only show the progress of a project, but it can also document the steps one has taken to disassemble an item or build one. This would not only provide a beautiful example of the tasks achieved but also provide an archive of the steps – or instructions – for future work or replication.
Jigsaw puzzle

Puzzle-solving with time-lapse

Another popular hobby among those with autism is puzzle-solving. This includes, most obviously, jigsaws, but could be any type of puzzle. It is a popular hobby common among non-verbal autistics, as well, and can be enjoyed in solo or group settings. Just as time-lapse will serve building legos and other contraptions, it will also show the steps and progress made on a puzzle in a much-accelerated timeframe. This will serve to document the work and accomplishment of the puzzle completion, long after the puzzle has been dismantled once more.

Raising and caring for animals with time-lapse

Not every individual in the spectrum loves animals, but for those that do have an affection are usually passionate. If caring for an infant or young, the hobby could be enhanced by captures that show the growth of the animal at an accelerated rate. This may come with some logistic hurdles, however, as posing the pet could be difficult, so this would serve some more easily photographed animals such as turtles or reptiles.

“…the time-lapse documenting the progress will be enriching and confidence-building”

Botany or growing indoor plants and time-lapse

A good amount of research suggests that plant cultivation is a fulfilling hobby for those with autism. Tending to a garden gives the opportunity to impart nurturing skills along with the satisfaction of visible results. These results – the growing of the plant – lend themselves well to the use of time-lapse photography. Not only will an indoor plant or garden offer the individual to explore their interests in the selection of the plants themselves, the resulting adult plant and the time-lapse documenting the progress will be enriching and confidence-building.
Person hiking in countryside

Hiking or camping as an opportunity for time-lapse

Individuals with autism may have high energy, and many enjoy the outdoors. Hiking or camping is an opportunity for a person to explore the outside world while getting exercise. These outdoor experiences provide an excellent opportunity to capture a time-lapse sequence. Whether it’s a couple hour excursion or a several night camping trip, a location can be actively sought, and once found, a time-lapse can show the changing clouds, light, or other features of the outdoors, including star cover at night for night sky time-lapse photography.

Drawing and painting revealed with time-lapse

Drawing and painting are also pastimes autistic individuals frequently enjoy. If coupled with time-lapse, the entire process can be accelerated to showcase the labor of the art. Each stroke and step will progress quickly in the resulting video, giving way to the final product with all of the splendor of the labor that created it.

Sculpture and time-lapse

Similar to these other examples, sculpture – with clay or any medium really – can be a hobby which is enhanced by the shooting of time-lapse. The sculpture will seem to build from nothing, with each step of the process visible throughout the time-lapse. This could also apply to things like carving and whittling. Again, you will see your or your loved one’s work in all of its glory compose itself before your eyes in the final time-lapse video.
Compact Camera

Photography and time-lapse

Photography and time-lapse can be a hobby in itself. Starting with developing a mastery of photography, anyone with an interest can capture it with their camera. An enthusiast or professional camera really is where you should be starting. Enthusiast cameras are usually fully featured, bodies with a metal skeleton are a good place to start and better models will even include weather-sealing. If you decide on a professional camera, they will all be built well. These cameras will have removable lenses and will work with remote shutters and intervalometers (if they are not included in the firmware), allowing the user to capture what they want in the way they want to capture it.

“The ability to shoot time-lapse will enrich any other activity that involves the progressive building or production of a piece of art”

Eventually, as an individual masters still photography and settles on a subject, they might advance further to produces time-lapses – perhaps, but not necessarily related to other hobbies. The ability to shoot time-lapse will enrich any other activity that involves the progressive building or production of a piece of art, or the growth of something. It can also be used to witness natural phenomena at accelerated rates. The hobby will encourage not only a mastery of still photography but also will lend itself to learning a whole host of creative programs in order to develop the final product. Those that are autistic are typically pretty intuitive on computer programs, and will likely be able to learn the programs associated with digital negative development and the composition of the final time-lapse. So one hobby can provide the individual with many skills.

Beginning your time-lapse journey

If you would like to learn more about time-lapse or you know someone else who might, a great starting point is our beginner’s guide to time-lapse where we introduce the basic concepts and give you the tools you’ll need to take it further.

Some other resources

LRtimelapse Review

Photo editing software

If you are considering using LRTimelapse software but you’re unsure if it’s the right tool for the job, then our detailed LRTimelapse review should help make up your mind.

There are a number of time-lapse software options available, LRTimelapse is just one, but it’s one of the most fully-featured and powerful applications out there.

LRTimelapse is likely the most capable and effective tool available for serious time-lapse photographers. It could also be effectively utilized for some stop-motion work. It harnesses the effective RAW processing of Adobe Lightroom to define keyframes within the sequence of images and will subsequently apply those adjustments to successive images, and it will even transition between them. It does allow manipulation of white balance, brightness – apparently anything available in Lightroom – however, LRTimelapse itself is not as user-friendly by any means, but adjustments in Lightroom can be easily utilized in LRTimelapse. It features a de-flicker feature which is remarkable and incredibly useful if you’re trying to reduce flicker in time-lapse. It also features functions geared specifically to photographers using the “holy grail” protocol available from the same software engineer, Gunther Wegner.

LR Timelapse is a hybrid of a plug-in and a standalone program. I appreciate this, as you can make adjustments within the program, however, it doesn’t try to replicate the efficiency and robust features of Lightroom. Lightroom does what it does best, and the modifications in the metadata can be loaded into LRTimelapse and vice-versa; you can load the modifications you have made in LRTimelapse into Lightroom as well by going into “metadata” and “read metadata from files”. To load updates from Lightroom in LRTimelapse, make sure to “reload” in LRTimelapse to apply the metadata changes after you have saved the metadata to files. For example, you may run a de-flicker at some point, but then realize that after the brightness issues have been resolved, you have a white-balance issue, which is more easily taken care of in Lightroom. In this situation, you would load the metadata from LRTimelapse in Lightroom, adjust the white balance in Lightroom, save the metadata to the file(s), then go back into LRTimelapse and reload to preview and continue editing your timelapse.

Although LRTimelapse has the ability to modify the white-balance and other elements such as brightness, sharpness, whatever, I found it does not live-update, so if you are trying to make a modest, visual adjustment, Lightroom is far superior. In fact, unless it’s a holy grail sequence or de-flicker, you should be primarily editing in Lightroom and then going from there. I think that is the opinion of the creator as well, as LRTimelapse leaves most things to Lightroom that Lightroom does superbly, and simply facilitates their transition between frames. It is similar to batch processing in some ways, but it is much more than that – the ability to allow the adjustments of one keyframe in the timelapse to be applied and transitioned to the next keyframe in full resolution using Lightroom is a hallmark feature.

LRTimelapse also allows you to sample a specific region to determine the flicker adjustments – so if you have changing lighting due to clouds or whatever, you may select a region in the photographs which are not affected by the cloud cover in order to de-flicker based on that sample area. If that area were to become undesirable as a sample region at some point in the time-lapse, you could change the region using keyframes. You can keyframe this area to animate a transition between these regions.

I also would like to point out that, although the GUI has “auto-transition”, which is most often the choice you will make, there is another option which is “individual transitions” under “transitions” which will allow you to determine which transitions you want to animate and how. You can define the curve, and select which transition it is applied to. This is helpful, especially if you have a highly imperfect time-lapse, or are looking for a certain aesthetic element.

There are a lot of things to like about this program. It is what you ought to be using if you are shooting time-lapse, pure and simple. It could also do wonders if you are shooting stop-motion and have flicker in sequences or would like to apply transitioned adjustments to the sequence.

As for the bad, I would say the most disappointing thing is there is no simple “undo”. This is highly desired in any program which has an aesthetic element to it and is something I would highly recommend in future versions. It also doesn’t allow you to simply create new folders from the import option, so you will want to create the folder outside of LRTimelapse and then populate it using the import option. Not ideal.

I like that the sequence can essentially be dragged into Lightroom – This is very nice. You ought to be using Lightroom Classic as simple Lightroom CC does not apparently support the plug-in. The export option is quite convenient, however, it would be nice to have a preview of the final product in case one is trying to determine the desired speed – that said, LRTimelapse does offer speed options, including 1,2,4 and 8 times slower or faster, which is nice. You can select framerates from 24p-30p, including 29.97 and 23.97 for NTSC. This is nice, but I would almost like to see other options such as 12fps and 60fps. You can manipulate this using the speed+framerate (30fps + 2x “faster”=60fps)…

In conclusion, this is a premium timelapse solution. Gunther Wegner, although sounding like a mixture between a physics professor and an action hero in his tutorials, is an authority on timelapse science and practice and the program is the best available. If you have issues, the aforementioned tutorials are available on the website and feature the developer himself. They are quite informative and a quality resource if you are planning to use this program.

In terms of LRTimelapse’s utility, I have to say, although you can do much of these things in Photoshop or Lightroom, you really can’t. Although there are competing software options out there, if you are serious about timelapse, or do it professionally, there really aren’t. This is the only software I have found with the ability to keyframe, transition and deflicker at an effective, professional level. I would suggest using the Pro version as the export options are superior, however, if you are not a professional or a habitual pixel-peeper, the private license is certainly more powerful in many ways than anything else out there.

To find out more about LR Timelapse and to see some examples of what it can do, check out the official LRTimelapse website.