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Lightroom Time-Lapse Video Production

Lightroom Time-Lapse

This guide to Lightroom time-lapse video production was put together to teach you how to produce time-lapse videos from the images in the camera to a fully produced video using just Lightroom. We have also put together some advanced tips and tricks for the more seasoned time-lapse videographers out there.

Editing a Time-lapse with Lightroom is something you should definitely consider if you are serious about producing time-lapse videos in a smooth and efficient way.

This page is more than just a Lightroom tutorial. There’s plenty of those already. It’s more of an ultimate guide to Lightroom time-lapse.

It wouldn’t be an ultimate guide if it didn’t have something to teach to new players, so let’s start from the basics for the uninitiated:

What is Lightroom?

Lightroom is a mature and widely used software application, which has been actively developed since around 1999 by the creator of Photoshop, Adobe. It’s used by most photographers and time-lapse videographers, since it is widely considered to be one of the best all-round photo editing applications for Windows and Mac computers.

“Lightroom is a mature and widely used software application, which has been actively developed since around 1999 by the creator of Photoshop, Adobe. It’s used by most photographers and time-lapse videographers, since it is widely considered to be one of the best all-round photo editing applications for Windows and Mac computers.”

Lightroom Features

Lightroom has all of the features you want from a photo processing suite, plus more. The ability to edit images in bulk makes it ideal for producing time-lapse videos.

Some of the main features used when processing photos for time-lapse include:

Photo library management

Lightroom let’s you manage your photos with a range of intuitive features including collections and smart collections. This lets you group photos like folders on a drive.

Bulk processing of photos

You can copy modifications from a photo and apply (sync) it to all of the other photos you’re working with. You can even select a group of modifications and just apply those to the other images.

Filters

All of the expected exposure and color correction tweaks are here, adjustable by dragging a slider or editing a number.

Non-destructive editing

When you edit a photo in Lightroom, the changes that you make to the image are saved to a separate file, leaving the original photo unchanged. This allows you to revert all edits at any point in time.

RAW file support

Import RAW images directly from your camera and edit them like any other. You can fully and easily adjust light exposure in Lightroom, allowing you to correct under- or over-exposed images as if it was taken right first time!

Creative adjustment tools

Tools such as the graduated filter, adjustment brush and post-crop vignette allow you to get even more creative with your time-lapse video production.

Export images

You can export to all popular image formats 

Lightroom time-lapse presets

Presets in Lightroom are a great way to apply a bunch of commonly used settings in a fast and repeatable way. Just click on the desired preset and all of the settings are applied to your selected image.

If you’re serious about time-lapse production and  looking to speed up your workflow, then you need to consider using Lightroom presets.

You can buy Lightroom preset packs online in a number of places. When researching this article, I discovered a trove of professional looking preset packs on Etsy. Whilst I couldn’t find any packs specifically targeted at time-lapse photographers, there is no reason why you couldn’t apply any of them to your time-lapse videos for a fast way of achieving a unique and creative style.

How to install a Lightroom preset

More often than not, you will probably be creating your presets within Lightroom itself, rather than importing them from files. However for whatever reason you may find yourself with a preset that you want to import into Lightroom.

If you have some preset files that you would like to import into Lightroom, then follow the steps below to install and enable your presets.

Method 1: From within Lightroom

  1. Download the preset file to your computer. If it’s compressed in a zip archive, then decompress all files to a folder on your computer.
  2. Open up Lightroom and go into the ‘Develop’ section (Click on  the ‘Develop’ tab to the top right of the main Lightroom window (arrow 1 in the screenshot below).

The presets should show in a list within a pane to the left of the screen (Green box in the screenshot)

  1. Next at the top-right corner of the Presets pane (arrow 2 in the screenshot) there should be a ‘+’ button. Click it and select ‘Import Presets…’ (arrow 3).
  2. In the file browser window that pops up, locate the folder where your preset file was saved. Select it, then click on the ‘Import’ button to import the preset.
  3. Select the preset in the ‘Presets’ list and it will be applied to your image(s). 

Method 2: Using Windows Explorer or Mac Finder

  1. Download the preset file to your computer. If it’s compressed in a zip archive, then decompress all files to a folder on your computer.
  2. Open another file manager window and navigate to the Lightroom Presets folder. The location of this folder depends on your operating system.
Windows 7/8/10

On Microsoft Windows systems, you can find the Presets folder at the following location:

C:\Users\[user name]\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Lightroom\Develop Presets

Mac OSX

On Apple Mac systems, you can find the presets folder here:

/Users/[user name]/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Lightroom/Develop Presets

Lightroom Time-Lapse Plugin

You don’t need a plug-in to produce a time-lapse in Lightroom, but a plug-in can certainly speed up your workflow and give you more creative tools.

I you are ready to take your time-lapse to the next level, then you can add extra functionality and features to Lightroom with a Time-lapse Lightroom plugin.

Jeffrey Friedl’s ‘Timelapse Support’ Lightroom Plugin

Developed by Jeffrey Friedl, a dedicated photographer, author, blogger and Lightroom plugin developer, the Timelapse support plugin is handy tool for fading settings in the Develop workflow.

Jeffrey has been actively developing the plugin since 2014 and offers it for free on his website. If you find the plugin useful, then it’s advisable to give a donation to Jeffrey to support development. You can choose how much to donate when registering the plugin. 

More information on the plugin, including a download link and installation instructions can be found on the Timelapse Support plugin page of Jeffrey’s site.

Jeffrey has also developed a selection of other Lightroom plugins. Some of these export to various online platforms, others offer features to enhance you workflow and organisation in Lightroom. You can see the full list of plugins here.

LRTimelapse

Another popular and very powerful piece of time-lapse software, LRTimelapse is considered by many as one of the best available.

It integrates with Lightroom, however it also functions as a standalone application and is stuffed full of features that will help you up your time-lapse video production game.

I wrote a detailed review of LRTimelapse so I will save repeating myself here, but it’s something I can recommend personally as I use it quite regularly.

LRTimelapse features

Here are some of the main LRTimelapse features:

Keyframe and grade time-lapse sequences of RAW images

Add keyframes to selected photos so that you can transition settings across images between them.

Animate and keyframe over 400 Lightroom tools

Adjust almost any Lightroom setting between keyframes to account for lighting variations and to add creative effects

Holy Grail Wizard

Allows you to create night-to-day (sunrise) and day-to-night (sunset) sequences

Visual deflicker and LRT motion blur

These tools allow you to remove flickering and add realistic blur effects.

H.264 support

Export to a number of video formats including MP4 H264, with support for up to 8k rendering

TimelapsePlus Studio

Timelapse Plus Studio software

This plugin was developed by Timelapse+, a company that already produces a popular hardware intervalometer called the VIEW intervalometer.

Whilst I haven’t used it personally, from what I read on the official website, it appears to offer much of the same features as LRTimelapse, but for a smaller license fee and a couple of extra features such as auto-keyframe and auto-grouping of time-lapse sequence images.

The author admits that it is not a direct competitor to LRTimelapse as it does not actually support rendering of video, but instead aims to “simplify support for postprocessing in Lightroom so that there would be a quick and easy solution that gets great results for the common use-cases rather than a comprehensive application for every situation”.

TimelapsePlus Studio Features

The plugin has loads of time-lapse specific features which aim to speed up and enhance your workflow. Some of these features include:

Auto grouping of time-lapse sequences

Detects and groups time-lapse sequences within the Library view into collections.

Auto identity keyframes

Intelligently recognises transitions in your time-lapse sequences and marks them with a star, so that you can apply transitions more quickly and effectively.

Blend keyframes & animate transitions

Once keyframes have been marked with stars, this feature allows you to blend settings between keyframes, resulting in professional and creative time-lapse productions. This is perfect for achieving the holy-grail effect. 

Preview timelapse in Lightroom

You can play through a preview of your time-lapse within Lightroom, to get a feel for the settings effects without having to render a full video.

How much does Lightroom cost?

Adobe used to let you buy Lightroom outright, as a one-off purchase. Sadly, this is no longer the case, you have to pay an ongoing subscription fee to use the software.

At the time of writing, you can access Lightroom for $9.99 per month. This includes 1TB of available cloud storage. Whilst I personally prefer to purchase software outright, for industry-leading software, $9.99 does represent excellent value for money in my opinion.

You can also get a software license for Lightroom and Photoshop together for a slight discount, or the whole Creative Cloud suite if you want it all. Check out the Adobe plans & pricing page for more details and up-to-date prices.

How to produce a time-lapse in Lightroom

Since Lightroom doesn’t support video rendering, you cannot fully produce a time-lapse video within Lightroom alone. However by combining Lightroom with Photoshop, you can indeed produce a full time-lapse video from start to finish.

You might not be able to adjust settings using keyframes, as you can using a plugin, but you can buy a combined Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom subscription for a reduced licence fee which is nice.

If you’re not familiar with Photoshop, or if you’d have more features beyond what Photoshop provides, then you might consider LRTimelapse instead. For the purpose of this guide, we are using Lightroom with Photoshop.

Let’s get into it and start producing a time-lapse in Lightroom.  I’m assuming that by now you at least know your way around Lightroom and know how to import, filter and process photos.

Import your photos into Lightroom

If you have already imported your photos, then skip this step. Otherwise, click on ‘File’ then ‘Import Photos & Video’ to open the image file importer window.

From here, you can navigate to the folder on your computer where the RAW (or JPG) images are stored. Select all images you would like to import. It doesn’t have to be just images from a single sequence – you can import them all together and group them into collections later in Lightroom.

At the top centre of the file importer, you will see a row of buttons labelled “Copy as DNG | Copy | Move | Add”. This is what you want the importer to do with all your image files during import. Select the one you want and finally click the “Import” button at the bottom right. Your image files will now be imported into Lightroom.

Retouch your photos

From within the “Library” tab of Lightroom, select the sequence of photos you’d like to include in your video and click on the ‘Develop’ tab. 

Select the first image of your sequence from the image thumbnails along the bottom of the window, then proceed to tweak the image tools in the right-hand panel until you get a result that you’re totally happy with.

If you’re new to this, you can find a brief description of the various develop module tools on the official Adobe website.

Export sequence image files to disk

Next you need to take your retouched photos and export the sequence to jpeg (.jpg) files. Take care to ensure that the file names are numbered in order. The screenshot below shows the Lightroom export screen. Make sure the “File Renaming” section is configured to rename files to include a number sequence.

Import images into Photoshop

Start up Adobe Photoshop and select ‘File’ then ‘Open’. When the ‘Open’ dialog opens, browse to the folder containing the photos you exported from Lightroom and highlight the first image of the sequence. Not all of them, just the first one.

Check the ‘Image sequence’ checkbox and then click on the ‘Open’ button. Photoshop will now import all of your images.

Photoshop will now ask you to provide a Frame rate. Videos are commonly 24 or 25fps (frames per second), but if you’d like to slow your video down, generally I would recommend 30fps (bit slower) or even 60fps (much slower).

Your photos will now be imported into Photoshop as a video. Once it’s done, look for the ‘Timeline’ panel at the bottom of the main Photoshop window. If the ‘Timeline’ panel isn’t visible, select ‘Window’ then ‘Timeline’ from the main menu bar.

You can use the Timeline panel to trim the video, adjust playback speed and join together multiple sequences. You can also add keyframes to the timeline for simple transitions and animations.

Render your final video

When you are happy with your timelapse sequence, click on the export button (found at the bottom of the timeline panel).

You will now see the ‘Render video’ dialog, which allows you to customise the video format filename, dimensions and encoding.

If you’re not sure what settings to choose, then click on the ‘Presets’ dropdown to choose the option most relevant to what you want to do with your video and some settings will be automatically selected to meet the intended use.

Taking it to the next level

You can further enhance your time-lapse videos with features such as flicker removal and animation of exposure and other settings, with software such as LRTimelapse or one of the other Lightroom plugins listed earlier in this article. 

In Summary

Adobe Lightroom is considered by most time-lapse photographers as the industry standard photo editing software. By learning how to use Lightroom, you are gaining a valuable set of skills that will be useful for the rest of your time-lapse videography career (or hobby).

The bottom line:

Adobe Lightroom is considered by most time-lapse photographers as the industry standard photo editing software. By learning how to use Lightroom, you are gaining a valuable set of skills that will be useful for the rest of your time-lapse videography career (or hobby).

By extending Lightroom with plugins and secondary software, you will be acquiring the tools you will need to produce professional level, production quality time-lapse videos that live up to your creative ambitions.

Panolapse 360 Review

Panolapse

Introduction

I recently got a chance to install and test Panolapse, some time-lapse software with some interesting and unique features. This Panolapse review aims to give a fair and balanced account of my experience using the software.

Just like you’d expect from any time-lapse creation software, Panolapse (or Panolapse 360 as it is also known) allows you to stitch photographs together to produce a smooth, flowing time-lapse video.

Is that it? Well, no! Panolapse has a unique feature that allows you to add panning and zooming effects to your final video, similar to what can be achieved using expensive motion control hardware, only it achieves this result using only software techniques.

What is Panolapse?

Panolapse is software that takes your static time-lapse photographs and stitches them together into a smooth time-lapse video, whilst adding advanced three-dimensional panning and zooming effects.

Time-lapse creation software

If you already have a series of time-lapse photos, or you are planning to shoot a time-lapse sequence, then time-lapse software is something you’ll probably need.

Depending on your exact requirements, Panolapse will turn these photos into a high-definition (or standard definition, if you prefer) video file which you can play like any other video.

What makes Panolapse unique?

If you were to pan across a timelapse sequence in most video production software, it would be painfully clear that the camera remained static and you had just panned the flat images across the screen.

Panolapse maps your sequence over a 3d ‘globe’, adding realistic perspective, meaning the pan/zoom effects really do look like your camera was panning/zooming during the shoot.

The ‘RAWBlend’ feature is also quite unique, scanning and adjusting exposure settings across the sequence of images, producing smooth, flicker-free videos every time.

Panolapse Features

Of course Panolapse has all of the usual features you have come to expect from time-lapse software, such as allowing you to stitch photos together and export them to a video of the desired framerate.

Here are some less common features that Panolapse offers above and beyond the basics…

Rotational Panning/Zooming

The key feature within Panolapseis the rotational pan and zoom.

Unlike typical pan and zoom controls within most video editing software, Panloapse has a hidden trick up it’s sleeve. Your video is mapped onto a sphere, kind of like the effect you may have seen within panorama and augmented reality apps.

By distorting the visual image in this way, the pan and zoom effects look virtually indistinguishable from actually turning the camera on a motion control slider.

Whilst you can sometimes just about tell that the effect has been achieved with software, in my experience the effect is pretty good and considering you don’t have to lug motion control hardware around with you, it’s definitely something you should give a go if you produce time-lapse videos.

Blend frames with RAWBlend

Another one of Panolapse’s flagship features is its ability to smoothly blend between RAW or JPG images. According to the vendor, it allows you to interpolate settings across multiple frames such as exposure, contrast, white balance, vibrance, saturation, fill, shadows and more.

Autoexposure

This feature analyses the aperture, shutter speed and ISO of each image in a time-lapse sequence and automatically adjusts exposure to give a smooth and consistent transition throughout the sequence whilst minimising flicker.

Without an automation feature like this, holy-grail sequences are incredibly difficult to achieve smoothly, so this is a welcome feature indeed.

Deflicker

As any experience time-lapse photographer will tell you, time-lapse flicker removal is an important subject to get to grips with if you want to produce smooth outdoor time-lapse videos.  An essential feature then, found in most good time-lapse production software.  Panolapse is no exception.

Exposure correction

Just about every photographer knows how easy it is to get exposure wrong when shooting.

Panolapse helps by allowing you to adjust and correct exposure after the fact. 

Works with RAW or JPG

If you produce time-lapse videos professionally, or if you are serious about producing professional time-lapse videos, then you should really be shooting and processing images in RAW format.

RAW images are a must if you plan on using Panolapse RAW Blend feature as essential data is saved into RAW images which is lost on convertion to JPG.

You will then need to convert to JPG to use the video production/panning tool.

If you’re just getting into the subject and you’re not sure on the benefits of shooting RAW, then check out our handy blog post on the differences between RAW and JPG.

Works with Fisheye lenses

Since the software supports fisheye lenses, you can account for this and pan/zoom functions will still work without having unnecessary distortion.

Works with stitched panoramas

According to the official website, Panolapse supports 360° equirectangular panoramic images.

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I haven’t tried this feature but this could open up some interesting creative opportunities. I do have a fish-eye lense so next time I’m out in the mountains I’ll look out for an opportunity to capture a nice wide scene.

Export to MP4, MOV or JPG frames

Of course Panloapse supports exporting to some of the most popular video formats including MP4, MOV and individual JPG frames.

The ability to export to JPG is a welcome feature as this allows you to add an extra layer of processing if you require depending on your workflow. For example, you may want to touch photos up in Adobe Lightroom prior to being stitched together into a video.

Hands On With Panolapse

When I first launched Panolapse, I assumed I could click on ‘Import image sequence and import all of my RAW images. Unfortunately it looks like this isn’t possible. You can only import JPG images from what I can see.

You can import RAW into the RAW Blend feature, but this is a separate feature used to create holy grail time-lapses which transitions through exposure values and saves them back to the metadata. A cool feature indeed, but create a simple time-lapse video from a sequence of photos, you’re going to have to convert to jpg first.

No worries, I’m used to editing my photos first in Adobe Lightroom anyway.

Importing Photos

Once I had generated my series of JPG images, I went back to Panolapse and hit the ‘Import image sequence’ button again. I selected a sequence of 1300 photos which were imported within a few seconds. No waiting around which was great.

I decided to produce a pretty simple time-lapse video, with a panning effect from left to right, to simulate a camera slider moving along a single axis.

I changed the focal length so that the image was effectively zoomed in, then I selected the first image and dragged my photo to the right, essentially ‘pointing the camera’ to the left side of the image. This will allow me to pan across the image sequence. I then clicked on the last image in my sequence and dragged the image to the left, again ‘pointing the camera’ to the right of the image.

Panolapse editing endkeyframe

Panolapse editing endkeyframe

Now my first and last images of the sequence are keyframes. When rendering the output video Panolapse will gradually adjust the Pan, tilt and Roll values across the frames between the keyframes, giving a smooth transition.

Exporting Video

I then hit ‘Export Frames…’ to output my time-lapse video. 

On the export settings window, I chose to output with 1080p resolution to MP4 video.

Panolapse output screen

There aren’t a lot of options here, but I found I was able to achieve what I set out to do. There were a couple of things that I think could be improved however. For example, more supported video formats would be nice to see.

The Result

It wouldn’t be a proper Panolapse review without showing the final result!

Overall I was happy with the result I got with just a camera and tripod. 15 minutes of post production is all I needed.

Problems I Encountered

For example, I set the output folder to a new folder within my main project folder. When Panolapse outputted the video (and images) it created a folder of it’s own within the one I created. This is good as it would have saved me creating a fresh folder, but it was totally unexpected, and I ended up with an extra folder. I did this a couple of times after forgetting about it. Not a major problem, but still a bit of an annoyance. Easily corrected though.

Another unexpected quirk was when exporting the video, Panolapse not only outputted the MP4 video that I wanted, but all of the rendered jpg frames into the same directory. I thought I may have accidentally selected ‘export jpg frames’ on the export options page, but there doesn’t seem to be any such option. You can choose to export jpg images instead of mp4, but I chose mp4 and expected just the mp4 to be generated.

In Summary

Overall, I think Panolapse is a good tool. It’s light and efficient to load and run, and it does what it does really well.

I haven’t had chance to test the RAW Blend feature yet, but if it works as advertised, which I expect it will, then it’s worth the license fee for that alone.

For time lapse photographers on a budget who want to achieve the effects of an expensive 2-axis motorised slider and capture that elusive holy grail time-lapse sequence, then Panolapse brings these effects within reach, for less than a couple of rounds of drinks.

If you want to give Panolapse a try, then I recommend downloading the demo version first and giving it a try.

Panolapse vs LRTimelapse

In case you are unaware, LRTimelapse is another popular brand of time-lapse production software which has some similar features to Panolapse.

One key feature of LRTimelapse is the ability to add keyframes and automate the transition of settings through a sequence. It does this by integrating with Adobe Lightroom, automating the powerful image editing capabilities of Lightroom to produce professional level time-lapse video.

Comparing the two, I would say that LRTimelapse, with it’s integration with LRTimelapse is a more fully-featured offering for producing time-lapse videos. However this is an expensive setup, especially considering that you will need costly motion control hardware if you want to pan and zoom.

Chronolapse vs Panolapse

Chronolapse is an entirely different type of software to Panolapse. Whilst Panolapse allows you to produce professional level time-lapse videos from source images from your camera, Chronolapse is primarily intended for capturing images from a camera connected to a computer (or from the screen).

If you are looking for some software to capture photos from a webcam or USB camera on your computer at regular intervals, then you should check out Chronolapse. It’s free and could be just what you need.

How to download Panolapse

You can find the Panolapse download link on the official Panolapse website. This will download the trial version of the software.

You can then unlock the full version of the software by purchasing a license from the same website. You will then receive a license key which you can provide in the software to unlock it.

To download Panolapse, check out the official Panolapse website which contains a Panolapse download link.

Frequently Asked Questions

What operating system will Panolapse run on?

At the time of writing, the software is available for Windows and MacOS.

I tried to install Panolapse on Ubuntu Linux using Wine (software that allows you to run Windows software within Linux), however, it didn’t run properly as fonts weren’t correctly loaded. This is quite common though, most software doesn’t work properly within Wine.

Is Panolapse compatible with GoPro?

In a word, yes. The video file exported by GoPro’s, or most action cameras for that matter, can be imported into Panolapse without any problems.

Any camera that exports video in common formats such as MP4 video should be compatible with Panolapse, including cameras with fisheye lenses.

Does panolapse require lightroom?

Unlike some other time-lapse software, Panolapse does not require Lightroom to be fully functional. Your entire workflow from image files to a final rendered video file can be carried out within the software itself.

You can include Lightroom in your Panolapse workflow, but this is entirely optional and depends on your own particular needs. 

Is Panolapse free or is there a license fee?

It is free to install and use Panolapse, however there are some limitations. For example you are limited to standard definition (SD) output video.

To unlock full functionality, you can purchase a license key which enables you to unlock all features including full HD output video.

Panolapse is very fairly priced considering the amount of functionality so we strongly recommend just buying a license instead of trying to find a Panolapse torrent or crack . In my experience this route often results in you getting an outdated version at best, or more often than not you’ll be downloading malware and infecting your computer. It makes sense just to get a proper license. Plus you’ll be supporting the author, so it’s win-win!

Time-Lapse Software: Applications You’ll Need For Creating Pro Videos

Time Lapse Software

It doesn’t matter how much photography equipment you have, you will really struggle to produce a professional level video unless you’re using the best time-lapse software.

This article serves as an introduction to the most popular software available for producing time-lapse software. From processing the initial photos, reducing flicker through to stitching the photos together to produce the final video.

Time-Lapse Stages

Since there are different stages to producing a time-lapse video, it’s important to first identify these stages so that we can identify what software can be used for each stage. The main stages of the time-lapse post-production process are:

  • Photo Capture
  • Colour Correction/Enhancement/Processing
  • Video Compilation/Rendering

You may find software that covers most or all of these processes, but generally, it’s better to use software that is really good at one thing, rather than okay at all of them. The old phrase ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ springs to mind.

Time-Lapse Capture Software

When it comes to capturing the photos needed to produce a time-lapse video, you have two options. You can use a hardware intervalometer plugged directly into your camera, or you can use a software solution. Whilst the hardware option is generally preferred for most projects due to it’s portability and simplicity, you may find that capture software allows for more control and offers extra creative features.

VideoVelocity Time-Lapse Capture Studio

This application allows you to capture time-lapse using a Nikon or Canon DSLR, webcam or even IP camera. Recorded pictures can be up to 4K format and exported video can be up to 1080p format.

Some other features include an advanced deflicker filter, failure recovery and scheduling.

The software has a free version which is restricted to SD image and video output. To output HD quality video, you will need to pay for the pro version.

You can find out more about VideoVelocity and download it , go to the following URL:

https://www.candylabs.com/videovelocity

SkyStudioPro

This simple application is quite basic, but might be all you need if you’re just looking to capture a series of photos to make a time-lapse video.

Whilst it is only currently available for Windows, the best thing about this program is the price – it is completely free.

Download it from the SkyStudioPro website here.

Photo editing Software

Once you have captured a series of photos, you don’t just want to stitch them together into a video without first doing a bit of post-production to enhance the colours and make the image ‘pop’.

“It still amazes me to see just how much difference a few simple tweaks can make to the quality of a photo”

It still amazes me to see just how much difference a few simple tweaks can make to the quality of a photo. Repeat that to every frame of a time-lapse sequence and you’ve got a really professional looking production.

Before and after Image processing

The photo above is from a time-lapse sequence I shot earlier this year. Post-production was done using Adobe Lightroom. You can clearly see the benefits of image post-production.

Adobe Lightroom

This is probably the most popular post-processing software on the market. Most photographers use Lightroom as part of their post-production workflow, Lightroom isn’t just for time-lapse photographers.

Lightroom basically ticks all the boxes for most photographers when it comes to optimizing photos in bulk. You can easily import all your photos, adjust pretty much everything including exposure, contrast, color balance and so much more before exporting images based on your specific needs.

A great feature of Lightroom is that it performs all of your changes non-destructively. IE it saves all of your changes separate to the image file itself. So you never have to worry about being able to reverse your changes.

Adobe Lightroom is available as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, which you can subscribe to and pay monthly. A lot of people are critical of the subscription model as you never truly own the software, but it does make the product more accessible for people who can’t afford a large upfront cost.

If you’d like to delve further, our Lightroom Time-lapse guide covers pretty much all you need to know on this software.

Video Production Software

The final step of producing a time-lapse video is to stitch your images together into a single video and export that video to a file format of your choice (usually AVI. MP4 or MOV). You may want to add on a soundtrack at this point, but generally, you’d add any sound or music when incorporating your time-lapse video into a larger video editing project along with other video clips.

LR Timelapse

Unlike most other video production software, LR Timelapse, as the name would suggest, has been developed especially for time-lapse production. It is considered by many as the best time-lapse software available.

LRTimelapse

Available for both Windows and MacOS, LR Timelapse boasts loads of timelapse-specific features including:

  • RAW image support
  • Integrates with Adobe Lightroom
  • Keyframe and animate more than 400 Lightroom tools
  • Holy Grail wizard for perfect day-to-night transitions
  • lossless Multi-Pass-Visual Deflicker
  • LRT Motion blur technology

Honestly, if you are not using LR Timelapse to produce your time-lapse videos, then you are missing out on some amazing features that I have not seen in another software package. 

For a more in-depth introduction to LR Timelapse, check out our LR Timelapse review. or visit the official LR Timelapse website.

Panolapse

Panolapse is another piece of dedicated time-lapse production software, developed by Patrick Shyu. Like LRTimelapse, Panolapse supports Windows and MacOS and has a lot of time-lapse-centric features including:

  • Panning/zooming with perspective correction
  • Blending frames with RAWblend (Exposure, contract, white balance and more)
  • Deflicker
  • Autoexposure
  • Export to MP4

Whilst it boasts similar features to LRTimelapse, it does not seem to integrate with Lightroom, but might be worth checking out nonetheless.

The free version of Panolapse allows you to export up to 1280×720 HD videos. With the premium version, the output video resolution is unlimited.

To try Panolapse for yourself, check out the official Panolapse website.

Adobe Premiere Pro

Most of Adobe’s creative applications are leaders in their respective markets and Premiere Pro is no exception. Used by top media/video production companies and amateurs alike, Adobe Premiere Pro is popular for a reason. With a neat, intuitive user interface and rock solid performance, if you are looking to edit videos and produce showreels then you can’t go wrong with Premiere Pro.

“With a neat, intuitive user interface and rock solid performance, if you are looking to edit videos and produce showreels then you can’t go wrong with Premiere Pro”

Having said that, Premiere Pro doesn’t offer much in the way of stitching images together to produce time-lapse. Whilst it is the first choice for many time-lapse videographers, I feel this may be due to most people already having it installed and being loyal to the Adobe brand.

Maybe I just haven’t discovered the right tools and options, but after producing a few time-lapse videos in Premiere Pro, I cannot find a precise and reliable way to set set the right frame rate.

If you are more adept than myself with PRemiere Pro, or if you have more time to learn to edit time-lapse sequences in the software, then I would most certainly suggest giving it a go.

Vegas Pro

Vegas is another popular piece of professional video production software. If you are serious about your time-lapse production and don’t want to use Premiere for any reason, then Vegas pro should be next on your list to try.

Like a lot of software these days, Vegas pro is available on a monthly subscription, or you can buy a license outright if you prefer.

Beyond the usual video editing features, Vegas pro offers an impressive range of features and filters to take your time-lapse video production to the next level including:

  • Denoise filter
  • Flicker control filter
  • Advanced color grading
  • Special effects plugins
  • AI-based colorization

For a full list of features and to see what Vegas Pro can do, check out the official website.

 Is Mac or Windows time-lapse software better?

This question has been asked a million times, not just in the photography software world, but all kinds of industries. A lot of people would argue that Apple Mac’s are better for media production in general, however a Windows PC with a similar spec is probably going to perform just as well.

Most time-lapse applications that we reviewed are available for both MacOS and Windows, so there’s not much difference with regards to support.  The best advice would be to stick to the operating system you are most comfortable with.

One factor that will make a big difference however is hardware. Whether you choose Mac or PC, make sure you have a decent processor, plenty of RAM and a high-end graphics card. Whilst a midrange computer should work just fine, you may find that rendering high resolution videos takes a long time unless your system is up to the task. A good graphics card could mean the difference between waiting 30 minutes for a rendering to complete vs waiting a whole day.

The bottom line:

The best time-lapse software for your project depends on the specific needs of your project. The only way to find out is to identify what tasks you want to achieve, and chose software to achieve those tasks. You may end up working with a few different pieces of software over the course of your time-lapse production workflow.

Powering a Time-Lapse – Keeping Your DSLR Powered During a Time-Lapse Shoot

Lithium-Ion DSLR Camera Battery

Without a doubt, one of the single most important factors in successfully recording a timelapse video is the power source. If you don’t have a good reliable source of power for the entirety of the photo shoot, your timelapse recording will fail.

If you are reasonably experienced using a DSLR camera, you will know that you can only expect to get a few hundred shots out of a fully charged, new battery before you run out of juice. If your battery has been through a few discharge/charge cycles, the number of photos you can expect out of a full charge will reduce significantly.

So what can be done? 

Can you swap out the battery when it gets low?
Don’t be silly. Removing your camera from the tripod or slider to change the battery would disturb it’s angle and/or position, causing a jump in the final video. When your camera is recording a timelapse, it’s not a good idea to disturb it for any reason.

Therefore we need a way to supply constant power to the camera for the full duration of the shoot.

Do DSLRs have an external power supply input?

Most DSLR cameras don’t have an external power input. This is quite frustrating for timelapse photographers as external power is necessary when filming for extended sessions.

The solution

The most commonly used solution is a dummy battery with a USB power bank. The dummy battery allows you to feed external power into your camera from an external power source (a  USB power bank in this case). This allows you to effectively increase the capacity of the batter as you are not restricted to what can fit into your camera.

Dummy DSLR Battery

Dummy batteries (Or DC Couplers as they are also known) are the same size and shape as your camera’s original battery, and they fit into your camera just like the original. The difference being that a dummy battery is not a battery at all, it is a connector with a cable to which an external power supply can be connected.

DSLR Dummy Battery

You can pick up a dummy battery from eBay for around $10. Just be sure to order the correct one – different cameras have different battery types.

Making your own dummy battery

If you’re determined to save some pennies, or maybe you just have an old dead camera battery going spare and you want a weekend project, then making your own dummy battery is pretty easy.

There are a couple of instructional guides online which explain the process. This video does a pretty good job of explaining:

The power source

So you have a way of getting power into your camera from an external source. Great, but what power source options are there?

Depending on your specific needs, there are a few options available to you.

Wall plug power supply (Wall-wart)

If your timelapse shoot is within a sensible distance from a main supply, or if you can realistically run an extension lead out to it, then a a wall plug power supply (PSU) might be your best option. Just make sure the voltage matches your camera’s

The most commonly used power source is a wall plug power supply. This is great for indoor time-lapse shoots, however for outdoor filming, a portable power supply is necessary.

USB power banks

If you’re shooting outdoors, then a mains powered solution probably isn’t for you. In this case, you’ll probably need a USB power bank.

Auto-off feature

Not just any USB power bank will do though – if you try to use the one you have sitting around the house, it may turn off after a couple of minutes as most USB power banks have a feature to turn themselves off if the device connected to them is not drawing sufficient current.

“Most USB power banks have a feature to turn themselves off if the device connected to them is not drawing sufficient current.”

When testing my power bank with a Canon DSLR however, I found that it seems to draw enough current to keep the power bank happy, so it didn’t power off at all. It might be a good idea to turn up your camera’s screen brightness and make sure it’s set to auto-preview when taking each picture. This should cause it to draw more current from the power bank, hopefully enough to keep it from switching off. 

If your power bank still turns itself off after a few minutes, fortunately there are options. Although they are quite hard to find, there are some USB power banks that have an always-on output especially for such purposes as timelapse photography.

Always-on USB power banks

V88 Battery BankIt is surprisingly hard to find a power bank that doesn’t have the auto-power-off feature. Some very cheap power banks don’t have the feature, but we wouldn’t recommend them as cheap power banks are notoriously unreliable.

One popular trusted brand that features an always-on power mode is the Voltaic V25 – V88 range.

The Voltaic V88 Powerbank, in particular, boasts a whopping 24,000 mAh capacity. It features both USB-A and USB-C output ports with USB-C input for charging the power bank itself.

When charging, the power bank continues to serve power to the camera which is a great feature.

Another great thing about this battery is the availability of a separate solar panel, which enables you to charge the power bank for long periods of time. This would be ideal for multi-day (construction etc) time-lapse shoots.

Disabling a USB power bank’s auto-power-off feature

If you already own a USB power bank, but it has an auto-power-off feature, then you can still use it. The trick is to draw enough current from the power bank so that it stays on, using a dummy load.

Using a dummy load

A dummy load is basically just a resistor connected across the power terminals of a USB plug, which draws sufficient power from the power bank to trick it into thinking something is connected and charging.

You can make a dummy load yourself using an old USB cable and a resistor. Just be careful to select the correct value resistor though, so that the dummy load doesn’t draw too much current. Most guides you will find online to making your own dummy load use resistor values that are too low, as they are intended to draw a lot of current for testing batteries.

You only want to draw say 100mA to keep the power bank happy, so let’s use Ohms law to work out the correct resistor.

The ohms law equation for calculating resistance is as follows:

Resistance = Voltage/Current

The voltage of a USB port is 5v and we want to draw around 100 milliamps (mA) which is the same as 0.1 Amps.

Therefore the equation becomes:

5 / 0.1 = 50 Ohms

So to draw 100mA from the power bank, we are looking for a 50 Ohm resistor. Resistors tend to come in standard values, so anything around the 50 – 80 Ohm range should be fine. Going slightly lower than 50 Ohms (say to 44 Ohms) should be fine, although don’t go too low as lower resistance means more current will be drawn which in turn will run your power bank’s battery down faster.

Modifying a power bank

If you are more electronically-minded, then you may be able to open up the power bank and disable the auto-off feature. Information is available online to help with this. I would not recommend this route for most people though – Luthium batteries are highly volatile and carry a high risk of fire or explosion if tampered with.

Making a custom battery pack

If your needs are beyond what a USB power bank can achieve, perhaps you need to record for months at a time, and you understand basic electronics, then a custom battery solution is probably right for you.

Top Tip

Choosing to make your own power supply will give you the freedom to choose from a range of battery technologies and capacities.

By choosing to make your own power supply, you have the freedom to choose from a range of battery technologies and capacities. We’ve covered a couple of available options here, but battery technologies are worth more research if you’re serious as there are lot of options out there and technology is always moving forwards.

Battery technologies

When building any battery solution, the choice of battery technology is important. Choose the wrong one and your battery might give up on you prematurely. You might also find that you spend double what you probably could have, because the battery technology you chose is over-engineered for your needs and you could have achieved your goal with a much cheaper battery. An example of this could be Sealed lead-acid vs Lithium-Ion.

Sealed lead-acid

Commonly found in alarm systems, UPS systems and motorised scooters/golf buggies. Sealed lead-acid batteries have been around for many years. They continue to remain popular as their benefits make them the preferred choice for their typical applications

Sealed Lead-Acid Battery
Sealed Lead-Acid Battery

Benefits

  • Rechargeable
  • Low cost
  • High reliability
  • Low self-discharge rate

Limitations

  • Bulky and heavy
  • Slow to charge

If you’re looking to shoot a long-term time-lapse, perhaps over a number of days, weeks or even months, then sealed lead-acid is likely a good choice.

Sealed lead-acid batteries are available with really high capacities at a reasonable price, so they are a popular choice for long term time-lapse recording projects.

Alkaline

One of the most popular battery technologies for general use due to it’s broad range of benefits, you will commonly find Alkaline batteries in supermarket aisles in standard sized (AA, AAA, C, D).

Alkaline Batteries
Group of batteries isolated on white background

Benefits

  • Long life
  • Low temperature operation
  • Standard sizing
  • Inexpensive
  • Convenient

Limitations

  • Can leak long term
  • Quite bulky

If you would prefer the convenience of being able to replace batteries rather than recharge them, then Alkaline batteries could be the solution for you.

Lithium-Ion

Whilst comparatively more expensive than the other options presented above, Lithium-Ion battery technology has a number of advantages over the other technologies.

Lithium-Ion Batteries
Lithium-Ion Batteries

Benefits

  • Fast charging
  • High energy density
  • Long life

Limitations

  • Expensive
  • Needs a protection circuit

In order to charge Li-Ion batteries, you will need a special charger or BMS (Battery Management System). These can be sourced from your favourite electronics supplier. 

Getting the voltage right

Now that we have an idea of what battery technology we’d like to use, we need to make sure that the voltage output from the battery matches what our camera needs.

Always take care to match the battery voltage to the camera. Connecting a 12v battery directly to a DSLR camera could permanently damage the camera and ruin your day.

“Connecting a 12v battery directly to a DSLR camera could permanently damage the camera”
Using a boost converter to increase voltage

Let’s say we decided to use a lithium battery pack to power our DSLR camera. Our camera requires 7.4v but the battery pack only supplies 3.7v. We need a way of ‘boosting up’ the voltage to meet our camera’s needs. A boost converter increases the voltage of a power supply (at the expense of a reduced current).

In the not-so-distant past, adding such luxuries as a step-up boost converter to your circuit meant spending upwards of $30 with an electronics supplier potentially even assembling a kit the size of a packet of cigarettes. These days, thanks to the ever-advancing electronics market, these circuits are available on eBay for just a few dollars. I’d recommend sourcing from a dedicated electronics supplier who should have the necessary expertise to recommend the right product for your needs.

Using a buck converter to reduce voltage

Just like you can use a boost converter to increase voltage, you can reduce a voltage by using a buck converter. You might want to use a buck converter if you’re using a 12V sealed lead-acid battery.

Again, these are available from any good battery supplier. Radio-Controlled electronics stores tend to have a good range of these products.

Putting it all together

Now that we have a battery and a means of converting the voltage to the required range, we need to connect everything together.

Make sure your battery is fully charges and connected up to your boost or buck converter. Test the output voltage that will be fed to the camera to make sure it is as expected (Canon cameras are around 7.4V).

Once you are happy that everything works, I would recommend investing in the following:

Soldering iron/Solder
Used to make all connections secure and permanent

Heat shrink tubing
Used to insulate any exposed solder joints and connections.

Insulation tape
Same as above

18 Gauge wire
Used to wire up boost/buck converter with battery

2.1mm x 5.5mm Barrel jack plug
If your dummy battery has a barrel socket, then adding a barrel plug allows quick connection/disconnection. Or you can just cut and join wires directly.

Waterproof enclosure
This is important if your setup is going to be left unattended. There are a variety of different shapes, sizes and materials available.

In Summary

Hopefully this article has given you some idea of what’s possible when powering your time-lapse setup. We’ve barely scratched the surface in each of the areas covered, but this should at least give you an idea of what you need so that you can research further.

If there’s anything I’ve missed, feel free to drop a comment and I will expand the article as necessary.

Make Money From TimeLapse Photography

Make Money From Time Lapse

TimeLapse is a fun hobby which combines technical photography and videography with creativity. You can spend many hours of (sometimes quite difficult and frustrating) work setting up and capturing a timelapse recording, but it’s so satisfying when you see the final result. But can you turn this passion into an actual source of revenue or even a full-time job?

Can you make money shooting timelapse?

The short answer to this question is yes. Ultimately, a high-quality timelapse video has value as they can sometimes be used by video production companies and creative agencies in their videos. Shooting a timelapse video from scratch can take weeks of preparation, hours to shoot and even more hours in post-production. The equipment can come into the thousands easily. This barrier to entry is why video producers will often just find a suitable clip and purchase the rights to use it for their specific purpose.

Where can I sell my timelapse footage?

The easiest way to sell your timelapse videos is to sign up to a stock video website such as Shutterstock or Bigstock. Stock video websites typically have a place to sign up to list your own photos and videos, which is separate from the main website. Click here to check out Shutterstock’s contributor section.

Some photographers and videographers complain about the sometimes excessive commissions charges by the stock websites. For this reason, many prefer to sell their digital products via their own websites instead. This way, you get to keep 100% of the revenue, although you won’t benefit from the exposure that stock websites can generate. You will have to do all of your own promotion, which can be challenging to say the least.

Commissioned projects

Another way to make money from timelapse photography is to produce custom videos for clients. This involves finding a client that wants to have a timelapse video produced, agreeing the details of the project, then filming and editing the video to their exact specification. Finally, you would deliver the video to the client along with maybe the source photos.

Some examples of commissioned projects might include:

  • Building construction videos
  • Music/Outdoor event videos
  • Local landmark/tourism promotional videos

The best thing about commissioned projects are that they generally pay the best. However, they are also the most difficult to obtain and will likely take a lot of actively reaching out to companies to promote your services.

How To Shoot a Lego Time-Lapse Video

How to shoot a LEGO time-lapse

Lego Time-lapse is a fun area of videography that combines two of my favourite things. Time-lapse photography and, of course, LEGO!

Actually, before we begin I just want to clarify something. If you’re looking to create an animation using LEGO, moving the characters to tell a story or adventure, then you actually want to shoot a stop-frame animation. Here’s a great article on shooting LEGO stop-frame.

Aren’t time-lapse photography and stop-frame animation the same thing?

Technically, pretty much. Both require a camera and tripod and involve capturing photos and stitching them together to form a video.
The main difference being that time-lapse captures something slow like the construction of a LEGO set, by taking photos at a specific timed interval, whereas stop-motion or stop-frame animation creates the illusion of motion where there was none. Also with stop-motion, the interval between photos doesn’t matter.

For a full answer to this question, check out our full Time-Lapse vs Stop Motion, What’s the Difference? article.

Why would you shoot a LEGO time-lapse?

If you’ve ever constructed a medium to large LEGO set, you’ll know the challenge it faces you with, along with the growing sense of accomplishment you get from completing it. A LEGO set can easily take 3 hours to put together. Some can even take as much as 10 hours or more!
Imagine capturing the whole process, as the model you’re working on slowly comes to life over the course of 60 seconds or so. It’s great to see and is the perfect way of keeping a little memento of your achievement which you can show off to friends.

What equipment do I need?

A Camera

If you own a DSLR camera and you’d like to use it, then great, go for it.
For everyone else, if you’ve got a fairly decent smartphone then I’d recommend using that instead. Modern smartphone cameras are more than capable of shooting great quality photos and are really convenient to use. You might also like to read our guide on shooting time-lapse on a smartphone

A Tripod

You don’t need anything special. Even a cheap tripod should be fine as it’s indoors and not subject to wind etc.

An Intervalometer

If you’re using a DSLR camera, then you’ll probably want an external intervalometer. Check out our intervalometer guide if you don’t already have one.

For smartphone users, you can just use an intervalometer app. I’m using an app called Lapse-It for Android which is also available on IOS if you happen to be an iPhone user.

Artificial Lighting

To ensure that the resulting video is consistently well lit, it is a good idea to film in a room with good lighting and no windows (or with curtains closed at least). This is especially important if your recording session is likely to span a few hours – you don’t want the level of daylight changing through the video. Even passing clouds can cause flickering in the final video. This can ruin an otherwise professional-looking video.

The lighting you choose isn’t hugely important as long as the subject area is well lit. I recommend a couple of soft boxes for this. You don’t need anything fancy, you can pick up a pair including bulbs for [amazon text=less+than+you+might+think&asin=B07FNMHPBJ].

LEGO Time Lapse Equipment

A LEGO Set

This one is obvious. I recommend getting a brand new set and unboxing it as part of the video. Not only does this add an interesting start to the video, but it also guarantees against any missing pieces. Imagine being midway through a 3hr build session, only to discover missing pieces!

The type of set you choose isn’t too important, just make sure the set is big enough to be a challenge – and to produce an interesting video that isn’t over as soon as it starts.

Preperation

Before you turn on the camera, you need to have everything in place. The last thing you want is to shoot a full time-lapse sequence only to find out you missed something – potentially ruining all your hard work.

Charge your batteries

Make sure the battery in your camera is fully charged. If you have a DC power supply for your camera, even better. Then you don’t have to worry about a dead battery if your shoot runs on too long

If your intervalometer has a battery, make sure that has plenty of power too.

Set up your equipment

Position your camera on the tripod, in front of your desk or table. Typically you’ll want to shoot from the opposite side than the side where you’re sat. Looking down slightly is a good bet, whatever achieves the look you’re after. Adjust the zoom (if your lens has one) so that not only is the build area in shot, but also the area where the pile of new LEGO pieces will be tipped each time you open a bag.

Set up your lighting on either side of the camera, covering the work area as evenly as possible. Again, it’s a matter of personal preference, but I like to ensure the whole area is bright and well-lit.

Set up your camera

Make sure your camera is configured ready for the shoot. Some key settings I like to adjust are:

  • File Format – I recommend shooting in RAW so that you have full control of exposure in post-production, but this isn’t strictly necessary if you’re just getting started
  • White Balance – Make sure it’s set to anything other than Auto, otherwise it could change between shots
  • Focus – I recommend setting your camera to Manual focus and then manually adjusting the focus ring to get the centre of your work area in focus.
  • Auto Review – disable this to save power.

Make sure you have an SD card in your camera and that it has sufficient storage space to capture your photos.

Set up the intervalometer

Next you’ll want to configure the intervalometer to capture shots at the right rate.

First, you need to answer these questions:

  1. How long is your video shoot likely to last? (how long will it take to build the set?)
  2. How long would you like the final time-lapse video to be? (I recommend 30 or 60 seconds)
  3. What frame rate would you like your final video to be? (Usually 25 or 30fps)

Armed with that information, head over to our time-lapse calculator and select ‘Shutter Interval’. Then enter your desired recording time and output video options. Click the ‘Calculate’ button to find out the shot interval you need to plug into your intervalometer.

Test, test, test

Take a couple of test shots to make sure everything is configured correctly and the pictures are correctly exposed and in focus. It’s worth even running the intervalometer and capturing a sequence of shots with you in position and moving your hands around in frame. Turn on your camera’s preview screen to get a feel for what’s in shot or out of shot. Better to find out now while you have chance to correct issues.

Start shooting!

Turn on your intervalometer to start the shoot and pull out your LEGO set. It’s time to build!
Now, try not to think about the time-lapse footage. LEGO is about having fun and getting creative. Enjoy the process.

Top Tips

Take a break

You can stop for a break if you like and come back to it. Just turn off your intervalometer before you start your break and back on when you’re ready to get cracking again. Be careful not to disturb the set during your break!

Watch out for disruptions

Children love playing with LEGO and can’t resist having a go. It would make sense to get your children involved in the build process, as long as they keep away from the recording equipment. Alternatively, shoot when there are no children around.

Have fun!

When you’ve placed your final piece, why not gradually rotate the completed set and zoom it around, really show it off. You can basically do some stop-frame animation as part of your video!

Post Production

When you have captured your shots, it’s time to get out the laptop and produce your video using your favourite post-production software.
We’re working on a guide to post-production, watch this space!

Top 5 Most Impressive Time-Lapse Videos

Top Time Lapse Video

If like me you feel like you’ve watched a million and one time-lapse videos, you might think you’ve seen it all. Once you’ve captured clouds moving across the mountains or the stars twinkle across the night sky, what more can you record?

We’ve collected 5 examples of unique and captivating time-lapse videos to hopefully spark your creativity and motivate you into exploring the different facets of time-lapse.

We have credited the original authors where possible, we’d definitely recommend visiting their social channels and exploring their work some more.

 

5. Bean Time-Lapse – 25 days | Soil cross-section

[kad_youtube url=”https://youtu.be/w77zPAtVTuI” ]

 

In this beautiful time-lapse video, we follow a kidney bean plant growing over the course of 25 days, but in just 4 short minutes, The plant has been planted in fresh soil in a glass container so we can see the whole life of the plant.  The camera speed was at 17280x, which means one shot was taken every 9 minutes and 36 seconds. In order to be able to see the plant’s root system, a piece of glass has been used to expose the full path of the root.

You can see from day 1 that the plant’s roots begin to grow, by day 25 the plant has planted strong, long-lasting roots and has grown to its full potential. You can see every detail of the roots growing inside the soil straight through the glass. You can even see the plant ‘shaking’ side to side as it grows towards the light. In reality, this is a very gradual leaning caused by the effect of the light on the plant’s leaves and stem.

Although this is a time-lapse video of 25 days, this actually took over 100 days to make as the first 3 attempts were a failure since the roots were hidden from the glass. The editing also takes time to achieve a smooth, flicker-free time-lapse video. Hopefully, this is a quick inside on how long it takes to make a great time-lapse video. 

 

4. Portrait of Lotte, 0 to 18 years – Age Time-Lapse

[kad_youtube url=”https://youtu.be/nPxdhnT4Ec8″ ]

 

Explore Lotte’s entire childhood growth in 5 and a half minutes. This portrait of Lotte is an incredible “coming of age” time-lapse video of a young girl aging through childhood. This footage was in fact an 18-year investment, so there was no room for any error. Her father decided to film a portrait of her every single week from birth to the age of 18. 

The “coming of age” time-lapse artwork consists of almost 1000 short videos, which have been mashed together to create this masterpiece. Turning a video into a time-lapse is slightly more complicated than turning pictures into a time-lapse, but not too difficult.

This Dutch father has made these fascinating time-lapse portraits of both Lotte and his son. It is rumored that the camera he used to film these portraits was in fact just a smartphone camera, at least for most of the footage. 

 

3. A Journey To The End of Time – Time-Lapse of The Future

[kad_youtube url=”https://youtu.be/uD4izuDMUQA” ]

 

If you’re curious about what it would look like for the planet Earth we live on come to an end in a matter of minutes, then this Time-Lapse video is perfect for you. This is a picture of the future as painted by modern science. This 29-minute video shows the expectations of the earth in the next trillions of years.

The hard work and effort that has been done to put this video together is impressive to say the very least. Witnessing the future of Earth, the death of the sun, the end of all-stars, proton decay, zombie galaxies, possible future civilizations, exploding black holes, the effects of dark energy, alternate universes, the final fate of the cosmos – to name a few.

 

2. 30 Days Timelapse at Sea Though Thunderstorms – Torrential Rain & Busy Traffic

[kad_youtube url=”https://youtu.be/AHrCI9eSJGQ” ]

 

A ship captain from America had the responsibility of delivering containers across the country. Instead of just enjoying the view for himself, he decided to share this magnificent experience with the world by building a 24K resolution 360 camera so he could design the perfect time-lapse video. He went through thunderstorms, rain, wind, in fact pretty much every weather condition was captured.

30 days of time-lapse, about 80,000 photos combined, 1500GB of project files. “Sailing in the open ocean is a unique feeling and experience. I hope to capture and share it for everyone to see. “ he stated. 

 

1. “The 3 Year Construction of my own home” – Construction Time-Lapse

[kad_youtube url=”https://youtu.be/XkjBYgLtqaQ” ]

 

The video that took the top spot on our top 5 list is one of the most unique time-lapse videos we’ve ever seen. It’s not unique in the way you think though… It’s unique because of simply the amount of time and effort this one man has gone through to complete this project.

A family man from America decided to purchase a 42-acre piece of land and didn’t want it to go to waste. He worked day and night, for 3 entire years constructing his very own house, using his own money and resources.

The construction of this smooth time-lapse video isn’t only impressive, but very satisfying to watch too. Recording time-lapse videos over a long period of time can be very difficult, especially filming under the sun and trying to avoid any camera flicker.

What Is Magic Lantern, And Will It Run On My Camera?

Magic Lantern on a Canon Camera

There has been an increasing amount of buzz over the last few years around Magic Lantern, the open-source software for Canon DSLR Cameras. A growing number of time-lapse photographers are using Magic Lantern to take control of their camera and shoot better quality videos and photos. If you’re just learning about Magic Lantern for the first time, then read on to find out how you can use it to up your time-lapse shooting game.

 

What is Magic Lantern?

Magic Lantern is some open source software that can be installed onto an SD card, which is then loaded onto Canon DSLR cameras.

The software adds a whole range of extra features to your camera, including exposure helpers, focus-related tools, LiveView adjustments, audio controls and much more.

Perhaps most interestingly for our audience, the software also adds a number of time-lapse features including:

  • An intervalometer
  • Automatic and manual bulb ramping
  • Silent pictures (removes shutter actuation)
  • Ultra-low FPS mode (Down to 0.2 fps)

There are too many features to go into here, for a full list, check out the official Magic Lantern user guide here.

 

Does It Overwrite My Camera’s Internal Software?

In short, no. The software is loaded from an SD card, which bypasses the software on your phone entirely, meaning you can simply remove the SD card that contains Magic Lantern and use your camera as you normally would.

The only modification to your camera that is required, is to get it to load the ML software from the SD card during it’s boot sequence.

 

Is Feature ‘x’ Available On My Camera?

Unfortunately due to technical limitations, not every feature is compatible with every model of camera, but compatibility is growing all the time.

To find out if a particular feature is available for a specific model of camera, check out the official feature matrix.

 

Will Using Magic Lantern Void My Camera’s Warranty?

If you send your camera in for repair under warranty, and it is found that the software modification has caused the fault in some way, then yes, your warranty may be voided. In order to get ML to run when your phone boots up, you will have to make a ‘hack’ modification to your phone. This is done entirely at your own risk, and this may well lead to your warranty with Canon being voided.

 

What Camera Models Will The Software Run On?

At the time of writing, ML supports the following Canon cameras:

  • 5D Mark II
  • 5D Mark III
  • 6D
  • 7D
  • 50D
  • 60D
  • 500D/T1i
  • 550D/T2i
  • 600D/T3i
  • 650D/T4i
  • 700D/T5i
  • 1100D/T3
  • EOS M

However developers are actively working on adding support for other cameras, with the support for the following models promised for future versions:

  • 70D
  • 100D/SL1
  • 1200D/T5
  • 450D/XSi
  • EOS M2
  • EOS M50
  • 5D3 1.3.4
  • 7D 2.0.6
  • 550D 1.1.0
  • EOS M 2.0.3

Since this is an open source project, speed of progress is limited to the time that volunteer developers can put into the project, so if you are in a position to donate funds or your time to help add support for other cameras, the ML team are actively looking for support.

Will Magic Lantern Run On a Nikon Camera?

At the time of writing, Magic Lantern does not support Nikon cameras and there is no publically available way of installing it to your Nikon Camera.

The software is constantly being ported to new devices however and in future, this may change.

If you are looking to run software similar to Magic Lantern on your Nikon camera, then you may find Nikon Hacker worth a look, a forum dedicated to exploring the subject of hacking Nikon cameras and installing custom software on them.

 

Is There Any Support Available For The Software?

One of the advantages of most pieces of open source software is the communities that grow around it.

Magic Lantern is no exception, it has an active official support forum which at the time of writing has over 62,000 members and over 218,000 posts.

How Do I Install It To My Camera?

To install Magic Lantern to your camera, follow the guide below. Be sure to follow every step carefully, skipping a step could cause you problems later on.

Top Tip

Although not required, it’s a good idea to restore your camera to default settings before starting the installation process.

Step 1: Prepare your camera

Charge your battery

Make sure your camera is using an official Canon battery, and ensure it is fully charged prior to starting the installation procedure. The last thing you want is for the battery to fail whilst transferring files!

Remove all attachments and accessories

To avoid possible conflicts or drains on the battery, it’s generally a good idea to remove all flashes, grips and attachments from the camera prior to starting.

Check your SD card and card reader

We strongly recommend a branded SD card, with at least 8GB of capacity. If your SD card has any files already on it, back these up as they will be overwritten when you install the software to it.

Make sure you have a suitable SD card reader/writer, or the ability to write SD cards built-in to your laptop.

Double-check your Canon firmware version

The firmware version of your camera should match supported versions listed on the official ML download page.

Step 2: Download the ML software to your computer

Go to https://builds.magiclantern.fm/ and download the Magic Lantern zip file for your camera.

Top Tip

Make sure your Canon camera is running the right firmware version!
You can check your firmware version by setting your mode dial to Manual (M) and looking in the Canon menu. If not, it won’t beak anything – the ML software will just stop and report an error.

 

Step 3: Install The software to your camera

Format the SD card

Using your camera’s built-in functionality, format the SD card using a low-level format.

Copy Magic Lantern to the SD card

Open the Zip archive of ML files you downloaded earlier and decompress/copy them to the root of your SD card. If you encounter any file corruption or file access errors, then start again from the start – we don’t want any errors at this stage.

Load the SD card into your camera and switch it on.

Launch the Firmware Update process

After your camera starts up, launch the firmware update process using the camera’s menu and follow the on-screen instructions.

When you see the green confirmation screen, restart the camera.

Step 4: Launch the software!

Finally, the bit you’ve been waiting for!

Restore your preferences

Go through your camera’s built-in menu system and configure each setting to meet your personal preference.

If you have a Canon 550D, 60D or 600D, you will want to enable video exposure now.

If however, you’ve got a 50D or 5D mark II, select the option to enable LiveView shooting.

Start the software

“Before removing your SD card, always remember to wait for the LED to stop flashing after opening the SD card door. This is always important, but especially so when using Magic Lantern.”

Now while in LiveView mode, press the INFO/DISP button button until you see the Magic Lantern audio levels and footer bar. If you see these, congratulations! you’ve just installed Magic Lantern!

Pressing the DELETE button now should open up the main ML menu. Be sure to read the help text that pops up. Seriously, READ IT!

IMPORTANT: Before removing your SD card, always remember to wait for the LED to stop flashing after opening the SD card door. This is always important, but especially so when using Magic Lantern.

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.