Meaning of time lapse
A time lapse is a video that’s made up of a sequence of photos to reflect the passage of time. The passing time could be minutes, hours, days or even weeks! In other words, it allows us to see the progress faster without having to wait along the actual time.
How many photos you need to make your time lapse video depends on the time you have to make the time lapse photos. For example, if you want to make a time lapse of the sunset, you know you have around 30 minutes in total to make the time lapse photos. You’ll need a minimum of 12 photos per minute to show the speed of the sun setting. But if you want to make a time lapse of a growing plant, then one picture a day, at the same time, is enough to show the process. Also the recording frames per second of the time lapse video that you want to use is important to take into account. Read more about the time lapse video editing process in this blog post.
To calculate how many photos you need to create your time lapse video read further under the heading “How to shoot the time lapse?”
How to prepare
- Extra batteries. Make sure all your batteries are charged and you have all of them with you;
- Take a lens cloth with you so you can clean your lens;
- Enough memory card space. It would be a shame if you find out you have too little space available and can’t finish the time lapse;
- Create a plan! If you want to make a time lapse of a sunset or sunrise, make sure to arrive at least an hour before at your location. Check the time of the sunrise or sunset and other possible elements like the moon or tides which may come into play;
- Pick a good and safe spot. Keep in mind that people who don’t pay attention to your tripod might walk in front of the camera. That will ruin your time lapse video, unless you want movement of people in it. Also make sure your tripod is stable on the ground, so that wind or waves can’t bring it out of balance;
- Framing and position are key. When you arrive on time it gives you the possibility to visualize the scene and find the best framing and position. Take a walk around the area, imagine the shot, take a look at the scene and find the best location and composition. Then set up your camera on your tripod and…;
- Do test shots! Don’t start shooting right away. Always do some test shots to ensure you are getting the right framing, composition, exposure and focus;
- Think about yourself. Take enough water and food if you’re going to shoot a time lapse for hours and dress to the forecasted weather conditions.
Always pick a safe spot for your tripod and camera so that wind or waves can’t bring it out of balance
Time lapse video ideas
Of course you can be as creative as you want, but here are some examples for shooting a time lapse video.
- Sunrise, sunset or from sunrise to sunset;
- Flower blossoming;
- Ice melting;
- Lights of buildings in a big city that turn on after sunset, or switched off after sunrise;
- Stars movement;
- Growth of a plant;
- Floating ice blocks;
- Movements in a busy street;
- Fruit decomposing;
- Clouds movement (example below of cloud time lapse).
Time lapse setting suggestions
The settings for your time lapse depend on the subject you are making a time lapse video from and what you want to create with the time lapse. But here is a formula you can use to determine the duration of the sequence.
(desired duration in seconds) x (frames per second for playback) = amount of frames for playback
You have to translate the total time into seconds with this formula.
(hours) x (60) x (60) = seconds
Below some suggestions for the interval per situation.
– People walking down the street: interval of 2 seconds.
– Clouds moving very fast: interval of 3 seconds.
– Sunset or sunrise: interval of 2 or 3 seconds.
– Clouds moving normally: interval of 5 seconds.
– Clouds moving very slowly: interval of 10 seconds.
– Night landscapes, stars, moon: interval of 20 to 30 seconds.
– Path of the sun on a clear day: interval of 30 seconds.
Another important thing to keep in mind is when you want to implement your time lapse into a video with edit software like Adobe Premiere Pro. You then need to calculate before how many photos you need to shoot depending on the recording frames per second of your video. Normally you will use 24-25 frames per second to record a video. So for example, if you want to use a 5 sec time lapse in a sequence of 25 fps then you need to take 125 photos (5sec x 25fps = 125 photos).
After you’ve made your time lapse photos you need to edit them to make a video of it. Read in this blog post how to edit your time lapse photos into a video with Adobe Premiere Pro.