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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.

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.

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

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

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 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].

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.

Should I Hire a Professional or Shoot Time-lapse Myself?

Photographer Walking

When you are looking to have a time-lapse video produced,  it is not necessarily important how or why the video was produced. All that matters ultimately is the end result. If the video portrays the message that you’re looking for, then it’s done it’s job.

It is for this reason that many media agencies and production companies are faced with a number of options when sourcing time-lapse footage. Should we set up a camera and capture and produce our own footage, or outsource to a professional time-lapse photographer?

The article attempts to explore and validate both options, and give you a better idea of the pro’s and con’s of each.

What is your intended purpose?

It goes without saying that if your purpose is to capture timelapse for the fun of it, perhaps you have a love of photography or cinematography and you like the experience of producing the video, then naturally you would be inclined to do all the work yourself rather than paying a professional. Unless of course, you are paying for someone to teach you.

Commercial time-lapse projects

For projects where you are focused on the final result, then the best means of achieving that result are often less obvious.

Generally for commercial projects, you probably need a high production quality. This means that you generally need high-end gear. if you intend on shooting the footage yourself. If you don’t already possess the necessary equipment, then significant costs may be involved if you intend to purchase equipment. Hiring is also an option here.

Even if production values aren’t paramount, you still may want to hire a professional for your time-lapse project, for example; If you need reliable results – if you are trying to capture a fleeting event or if you have a short window to capture and produce the final product – then you will likely want to hire this service out regardless of the final use.

If you are still unsure whether you should try your hand at your time-lapse project, continue reading for a clear appraisal of the likelihood of your success. If you have a time-lapse professional project to shoot and you haven’t shot time-lapse before and you aren’t already an enthusiast or professional photographer, definitely hire someone.

If you are a fully competent photographer, ask yourself the following…

“If you are planning to shoot a time-lapse, you will need decent equipment. You will need an “enthusiast” or “professional” camera, otherwise, you will LIKELY end up will a less-than-ideal result.”

Hobby and non-commercial time-lapse projects

As with commercial projects, it comes down to achieving the desired results, versus cost. One benefit you may have compared to commercial projects is that you are not answerable to a paying client. This doesn’t make it any easier to produce your video, sometimes quite the contrary, but it does give you flexibility and control. You may also be working to a self-imposed deadline, so you can keep costs down more effectively.

Do you have the equipment?

If you are planning to shoot a production-quality time-lapse, you will need professional equipment. This isn’t set in stone, but generally at the very least, you probably want a DSLR camera with a suitable lens.

Can’t I use a high-end smartphone?

For simple daylight time-lapse, a modern smartphone will capture great shots, but a DSLR camera will give you the ability to shoot in low light conditions due to the larger lens and higher ISO. DSLR cameras also have interchangeable lenses.

You will also want to be shooting in a RAW file format, and, in an ideal world, you would have a lens system that will accommodate static apertures to prevent flicker (an undesirable change in the perceived brightness of the successive images that produces a sort of ‘strobing’ effect when composed to video).

You will also need a fairly decent tripod. A low-end tripod would be suitable in ideal conditions, but something with a little more weight and rigidity is necessary in breezy conditions or when shooting with a long exposure (think astrophotography). Cheap tripods will often sag depending on the weight of your camera/lens and the tripod build. They will also feature clumsy controls that will move the tripod itself during adjustments, changing the camera perspective slightly, and make the framing you would like difficult. They are also substantially less stable, which can often result in some camera shake – which is almost always highly undesirable. This is especially problematic if your project will require you physically adjusting any settings on the camera during the course of the time-lapse.

You will also need an intervalometer (some cameras have this in their firmware) and/or a remote shutter. There are also other pieces of equipment you should have depending on the nature of the shoot – such as cards with the capacity and the speed to capture your time-lapse, weather protection for yourself and your camera, neutral density filters, and adequate power (which can mean a battery grip or even more extreme solutions).

Depending on what you are shooting, you may also need appropriate lighting, yet another equipment cost. You will also almost certainly want to consider all potential equipment requirements for your particular project and make sure you are adequately equipped. Our best cameras for time-lapse guide is a great place to look for more information on the subject.

Photography Equipment

You will also need the computing capacity to deal with a large number of RAW images in post-production, so this needs to be considered as an element of the equipment requirements. The software will be an element you will require as well.

So what should I do if I don’t have the equipment? Well, if you want to get into shooting time-lapse regularly, it might be advantageous to purchase the right equipment and start shooting yourself – especially if you are not on a tight timeline or need to shoot an event or phenomena which will only occur once or within a limited timeframe. That said, if you don’t have at least most of the gear and are willing to expand, hire someone. Also, even if you have the equipment, but you don’t seek to make time-lapse into a hobby or profession, hire it out.

Do you have the expertise?

Time-lapse can be pretty demanding on a photographers mastery of the art and science of creating images. You will need a good grasp of exposure, and how exposure is altered by each of the settings in your camera – shutter speed, aperture, ISO (or ASA/film speed), white balance, file format, even focus. If you aren’t VERY familiar with these terms, hire the time-lapse production out.

If you don’t have the expertise, but are looking to train ‘on the job’, bear in mind that you can often wait weeks for ideal weather conditions before you can even set up your equipment for a shoot. Then, it might be the following evening before you get to upload the images into your computer for post-processing. It might not be until this point that you realise your shutter interval was too slow or your video has flicker which could have been prevented. Then you have to repeat the whole process all over again.  It could take you all summer to get the perfect shot.

“If you are completely new to software post-production, hire the time-lapse out…Unless you are ready to do a lot of learning”

Do you have video editing skills and software?

When shooting time-lapse, there are a lot of things that can result in an undesirable final product. This may not happen, but you need to know how to fix it if it does.

Most commonly, flicker will be an issue. Some other things may occur as well – sometimes abrupt changes in color or lighting, which are parallel phenomena to flicker; some washed-out shadows or clipped highlights may appear, or some camera shake.

These issues can likely be remedied, especially if you are shooting RAW, but you will have to know or learn exactly how to do make appropriate adjustments. There is software available to download that will develop your RAW images – Adobe’s Lightroom is the industry standard and what I would highly suggest if you are considering shooting time-lapse.

“Adobe’s Lightroom is the industry standard and what I would highly suggest if you are considering shooting time-lapse”

When it comes to stitching the images together to form the final time-lapse video, again there is specialist software available, namely Adobe Premiere and the industry-specific LRTimelapse. There are Lightroom plug-ins available which you can use to achieve the same ret result, without leaving Lightroom, and these often the most seamless option, but generally it’s better to use the dedicated software named above.

You will need solid editing software to consider undertaking this task yourself. You will also need to familiarize yourself with the software. If you are already familiar with Lightroom or Photoshop, it shouldn’t be too hard – or if you have expertise in video editing programs like Premiere, Final Cut Pro, or AfterEffects.

Video Production

You may also need something to stabilize the outputted video from RAW. Just like flicker, this may not be an issue for you, but you need to be ready if it is. Most decent video editing programs have a stabilization plug-in of some kind that will satisfy this need.

It may be a good idea to shoot a somewhat wider focal distance than you want the final product to appear – for one, you will have ample resolution, and secondly, if you DO have camera shake, you will need some cropping ability to stabilize the image in post. I would suggest using Premiere or Final Cut Pro from the video output, although there are several options for this. If you are completely new to software post-production, hire the time-lapse ou – unless you are ready to do a lot of learning.

So, in conclusion, you most certainly can shoot time-lapse yourself, however if you want a professional, production-quality product, you need the equipment and expertise. There are not shortcuts or ‘cheats’.

Beyond that, each shoot can present unexpected issues that aren’t touched on in this article as each time will be different in some capacity. Wind can be an issue. Changing cloud cover can be an issue as well. A battery suddenly losing charge unexpectedly due to dropping temperature.

A lot of these issues will not be noticeable until you start working in post and will result in the issues described above. An experienced individual will be able to more effectively mitigate or prevent these potential problems – the experience you will not yet have. However, if you consider yourself a well-equipped, software savvy, enthusiast photographer, you can most likely do this yourself. I would leave myself ample time for hiccups and adjustments in post, but if you feel confident, give it a shot. If not, hire someone to shoot time-lapse for you.

Simple cost analysis

Ultimately, you have to put a value on your time and make a realistic assessment of how much each option will cost you overall. Sure, shooting your own video might save you $2000 on a professional’s fees, but if it takes you a month of work to get the result, plus you have to spend a couple of hundred on extra gear, then did you really save anything in the long run?

RAW vs JPG – File Formats Explained

Raw Jpg File Format

If you’re not sure of the difference between raw vs jpg file formats, or you may be new to the raw file format. Read on to have your questions answered.
Raw or JPEG? If you are serious about taking photographs, the choice between these file types is a topic you need to be aware of and educated about. Whether shooting a mirrorless or DSLR – even some digital point-and-shoot cameras – the option to shoot in either file format is there. But why? Which is better? Well, let’s start off by establishing what RAW and JPEG actually are before comparing.

What is the difference between JPG and JPEG

I just want to clear this up; JPEG and JPG are the same file type. The extension .JPG was a shortened form of .JPEG used in Windows operating systems before four-character extensions were supported. The terms “JPG” and “JPEG” are used interchangeably and refer to the same image compression scheme.

JPEGs are a type of compression for digital images. JPEG is actually an acronym for “Joint Photographic Experts Group”, a committee that started developing the means for transferring and displaying digital images in a standardized way back in the early 1990s.

JPEG uses “lossy” compression, meaning that information is lost each time the file is compressed or manipulated. When you save a JPEG, or create one in your camera, you are compressing the image. It is designed to be most effective at compressing images depicting smooth tonal transitions – graphics, or photographs – but, due to the means by which it compresses the image data, it is not particularly good at hard lines.

JPEG has become popular due to the relative high fidelity and viewability of the images despite great reductions in file size thanks to the compression. This is especially valuable in sharing images over the internet, where the quickest presentation times are often the most desirable. JPEGs are able to achieve this first by compressing color information and luminance, then compressing each of these channels further into a minimum of 8×8 blocks. Without getting excessively technical, JPEG compression uses formulas to get a sort of average color of the 8×8 (4.2.2) or 8×16 (4.2.0), etc, reducing file size – it will also compress some luma detail, especially as the “quality” gets lower. JPEG gives data preference to the luminance channel, separating the RGB color space and converting to YCbCr, where the Y is luminance. Because the human eye can perceive small changes in brightness more keenly than color, luma is given priority over color.

What is the average JPG file size?

This depends mostly on the megapixel rating of your camera and the level of compression. The file size between individual photos can vary a lot too, depending on the colours and shapes within the images, due to how compression works.

For a Canon 700D DSLR camera with 18 Mega-pixels, set to ‘fine’ mode (maximum image quality), JPEG images are around 5MB-10MB.

What is the average RAW file size?

As with JPEG mages, RAW image file sizes depend on the megapixels of the camera. Which makes sense; more pixels means more information from the sensor.

Since they have no compression, RAW images have much more consistent file sizes. For a Canon 700D DSLR camera with 18MP, file size is around 11-12MB.

RAW file type

Raw is a term used for a collection of different file formats which seek to successfully record an uncompressed and lossless file from the camera sensor. RAW files will record color at the bit-depth which the sensor has recorded, and will contain no elements of pixel averaging or color compression. Most major camera manufacturers use proprietary RAW file formats, although some use more standardized formats such as DNG.

RAW is often referred to as a ‘digital negative’ – despite being a positive image – as it has a parallel function to a film negative. Digital negatives require “development” to be usable and viewable on most devices and software. The RAW file also will remain unchanged despite editing – edits will either be saved to the metadata or a separate file. Although some camera manufacturers and firmware versions do more, RAW typically does not compress or remove any information, with the exception of “defective pixels” (pixels generated through sensor noise).

“Due to the uncompressed nature of the format, RAW files are many times larger than their JPG equivalents – and contain much more detail.”

Due to the uncompressed nature of the format, RAW files are many times larger than their JPG equivalents – and contain much more detail.

RAW versus JPEG

RAW files are superior to JPEGs in sheer terms of quality, integrity, and value of information. They are always going to be as they come uncompressed and without preset sharpening, brightness adjustments or contrast adjustments your camera will automatically assign to JPEG. Now, despite the advantages of RAW over JPEG, there are occasions where it will be ultimately more advantageous to shoot JPEG or, as I personally prefer, RAW+JPEG.

JPEGs come ready to view out of the camera and do not require digital development, which can be extremely time-consuming if you are shooting a large number of photographs, In which case, it is nice to have JPEGs created immediately in the camera for sharing, especially over web. JPEGs are often usable if you get the right exposure, especially over the web.

JPEGs are also sometimes preferable when you need to shoot large, rapid bursts – because of the smaller size of the JPEG images, most cameras will allow you to fire off more shots in continuous shooting mode before the buffer on the camera is exhausted and a pause is required in order to begin shooting again. In this mode, obviously, one would shoot JPEG and not RAW+JPEG, as the total amount of data created is usually the limiting factor.

Also, if you are shooting images more casually, where tonal depth or exposure aren’t necessarily important, or if you are particularly low on storage media, JPEG can be the solution. Having said that, if you would like better results and you have limited space, I would suggest shooting in RAW, then setting the brightness, sharpness, etc for each individual photograph in the camera to compress to JPEG, then deleting the RAW, as it will give you more control over the final compressed image.

If you are shooting directly to JPEG, as previously stated, your camera will automatically sharpen and add brightness and contrast to your image when compressing. Some cameras allow this to be set by the user but usually comes standard with around 25% increase in sharpening, brightness and contrast. I prefer to have that control myself over each image individually if possible.

Outside of the obvious advantage in more bit depth with RAW – JPEGs only can save a maximum of 8-bit; your camera likely records 12 or 14 bit – the more gradual tonal elements and the ability to avoid clipping (in most shooting situations if the exposure is correct or near to it) are very valuable. You may shoot in JPEG for months and never have an issue until you come across a poorly lit room or an overexposed image.

Highlight clipping is very common and frustrating in JPEG, which gets especially bad when you consider the default brightness and contrast settings your camera probably uses. Also, under-exposed images, which do not have the advantage of the wealth of data a RAW image has, will reveal incomplete color information and excessive noise if you try to push the exposure. These issues may not have happened to you yet, but the more aware you become of your image’s integrity, and the more you shoot, the more likely you will have that shot you WISH you could save, but the JPEG just won’t let you.

“My advice is, shoot in RAW unless you CAN’T. You can always make JPEGs from the RAW files, but not vice-versa”

In addition, if you intend on editing the photographs, you will have successive compressions with each edit. This will cause the image to lose fidelity and compression artefacts will degrade the quality of the image. My advice is, shoot in RAW unless you CAN’T. You can always make JPEGs from the RAW files, but not vice-versa.