17 Steps to Create Time Lapse Video from Still Images

Watch this photography tutorial to learn how to make a time-lapse video with your DSLR camera.

On January 11th and 12th Connecticut was hit with a blizzard that dropped 20-30 inches of snow across the state. I decided I wanted to try a time-lapse photography.

Time Lapse Photography

Time lapse photography is basically shooting a lot of images over a given length of time and then cramming them back together into a video that is shorter then that time.

This little video shows me shoveling the driveway out after the blizzard passed. 2.5 hours of capture in 2 minutes of video.

17 Steps I took to create this time lapse video

1. Use Tripod
I set my camera up in my garage on a solid tripod.

2. Frame
Frame the shot the way you would for a photograph.

3. Focus
I focused on the front of my car in the driveway. Make sure auto focus is off and that the image stabilizer on your lens is also off.

4. Exposure
I wanted the action in the shots stopped for the most part so I made sure that my shutter speed was fast enough for that. When I started it was fairly bright out and I had the camera set at f13 (important not to change this) and the shutter at 1/250. I had the iso set at 200.

5. White balance
You do not want to use auto white balance as this can change as time goes by. Pick one appropriate for your situation and keep it there for the entire shoot. I used the daylight setting on my camera as it started as a mostly sunny day. Custom white balance is also recommended.

6. Intervalometer
Once I had the settings on the camera done I attached my intervalometer to the camera. Some cameras have one built in. An intervalometer is an advanced shutter release that allows you to set a time between shots. It also allows hands free shooting so you can be in the images your shooting as I was in this video. I set the first shots at 20 second intervals. I stopped and looked at what I had taken and decided to shorten the time between shots to 15 seconds. This allowed more of the action to be caught so it would look less jumpy in the finished video. The less time between shots the smoother the video will look when done. After a few more shots I rechecked the look and decided to change it once again and made the intervals 10 seconds. I know I wanted a fairly jumpy video and was happy with it at 10 seconds.

7. Memory
I also recommend that you have a fairly large memory card in the camera if you are going to be shooting for a long time. I own 8gig cards and filled four of them up shooting this. If I would of been shooting at a shorter interval of lets say 1 second between shots, this same video would of required forty 8gig cards! Another option would have been to have the camera hooked directly to a laptop and have the images saved directly to the laptop. This is fine until you reach a point in which the files can’t save as fast as your taking them. At 10 second intervals I don’t see this as a problem, but at 3 seconds or less I believe this could be an issue and you would lose shots as the camera waited for a file to transfer.

8. Push the button
Once I was happy with the way the images were looking I hit the start on the intervalometer and started shoveling. I started at 11:30a and finished at 2:10p with a small break for lunch.

9. Re-Check Exposure
I was extremely lucky that the exposure for the most part was great. As the shoot progressed the sky became more overcast, great for a dramatic sky, but the exposure was becoming too dark. I then changed the shutter to 1/125 from 1/250 to gain a full stop of light back. I knew I could make some adjustments in camera raw later.

Post Processing:

When I was done I had a little over 500 images and after I removed the bad ones I still had 480 to work with.

10. Make Adjustments in Raw

The nice thing with adobe camera raw is you can adjust a lot of files at once and when working with 480 files that is a nice feature.I did have to make two adjustments:
- The first one was to all the images. I used the fill tool in camera raw to bring out the shadows a bit as they were not bright enough in my opinion.
- The second adjustment was the same but only for the shots I took after my short lunch. The sky had darken a bit and the shadows were darker after lunch then before lunch. I again used camera raw and adjusted the fill more intensely to bring the shadows out.

Turning Stills into Video:

12. Save images As JPEG
Once I did the adjustments in camera raw I saved the files as jpegs. When I saved them I made the files 1280×1920 pixels. I could of made them even smaller, but at this size most were smaller then 1mb and they were still large enough to make a high definition video.

13. Import images
Import images into Windows live Movie Maker (PC) or iLive (Mac). I used Windows Live Movie Maker to make the final video. It comes with most computers that have Windows 7 on them. If you have XP or Vista I believe it is just called Movie Maker. On an Apple you get iLife which has iMovie. I just selected all the jpegs just created and dragged them into Movie Maker.

14. Set Interval:
Once in the program I then selected all the images but the first one and the last one and set the time each one would be shown to .2 seconds each. You can play around with this to see what looks best for your video.

15. Play Around:
I then selected the first one and added some text to it with a little visual effect. There were lots of choices and you can have a bit of fun with this. I also made the first frame last 5 seconds to allow the text to be read. The last frame of me with my arms up I set for an 8 second duration.

16. Add Juice
I then picked some music (by Jason Shaw) and dragged that to the start of the video and added a fade in and a fade out.

17. Save as High Definition
I also saved this project often as I worked on it. When done I save the project as a high definition movie.

That is it!
timelapse-post

Hope you have fun and will take the time to try this technique. Did you have any snow this winter? Share your best snow shot here (using share your shot feature in comments box)

Here is a great time lapse video for inspiration:

Length:

02:01

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