Time-lapse basics: three ways to create your video

How to pull off a time-lapse with your DSLR, by Andrea. Time-lapse, a period of time on film, and then playing it back at a much faster rate. There are two popular techniques for creating them: speeding up video footage in post, or piecing still photos together in post. And now, mobile phones offer new ways to experiment as well. All will accomplish the time shift you seek, but they do require different prep, execution, and cerebral power. Follow the steps below to see which of the three fits your fancy

The Mountain from TSO Photography on Vimeo.

Technique #1: all about video

Shooting a video and then speeding it up requires a bit less pre-planning on your part, and it still results in a cool effect. It’s worth noting that this technique works well during the day, but isn’t as successful for nighttime shots. Also, you will create a bit of a stuttering effect, and you won’t get the classic “motion blur” you may be looking for. If you’d prefer the latter, #ChooseYourOwnAdventure and scroll down to DSLR Technique #2. Otherwise, follow these simple steps here:

1. Use a stable tripod or surface.

2. Go to video mode on your DSLR. Make sure you’re also in manual mode, so you have more control over your exposure.

3. Your shutter speed should be slooooooow! It’s recommended that you keep it between 1/30 and 1/60 to minimize choppiness when editing in post.

4. Record your amazing, soon-to-be-award-winning video. The longer you shoot for, the more dramatic of an effect you’ll see in post.

5. Import the video file into your editing software and change the speed or length of your clip (for example, speed a 15-minute long video into five seconds).

Here’s an example our content and community manager Mark made using this technique:

Technique #2: let still photos guide the way

If you’re up for the challenge, try capturing still photos for a more professional, classic time-lapse. Photos allow for a longer exposure, and when edited together, they create a beautiful motion blur that’s not possible with our first video-filled technique. Another benefit to taking photos versus raw video is that you’ll have a far greater resolution, which allows more freedom in post to zoom in and out as you please. To achieve the classic time-lapse, read on:

1. Use a stable tripod or surface.

2. Go to still photo mode on your DSLR. Make sure you’re also on manual exposure — you won’t want this changing from frame to frame.

Pro-tip for day to night time-lapses: Aperture priority mode (noted as “Av” or “A”) is recommended, since your lighting will be changing drastically. This allows you to set the aperture of the lens, and then your oh-so-intelligent camera will automatically adjust the shutter speed to maintain the correct exposure.

3. Use slower shutter speed for a blurred-motion effect (< 1/100th or so). Faster speeds give a choppier look. Note that you may need an ND filter to achieve this!

4. If your camera has an internal time-lapse or interval mode, GREAT! You can use this. Or —

5. If not, you’ll need to use an intervalometer, or external timer, to plug directly into your camera body. With this nifty little device you can set your exposure, the number of photos you want to take, and the interval to take them at. Once you set this up, sit back and chillax while the camera works for you!

6. Import these photos into your editing software and piece them together.

Here’s an example using this technique:

Technique 3: No DSLR? No problemo

For those of you that would prefer shooting time-lapses on your smartphone, well, you can do so! This is a great option if you’re not trying to lug around bulky equipment or you’re simply balling on a budget. Your phone is a tiny, powerful tool to take your videos in a new direction, and these great apps got you:

iOS: Lapse It and Hyperlapse from Instagram are terrific, and iOS 8 and newer models have time-lapse camera mode built in. All are ready for the experimenting.

Android: Lapse ItFramelapseMicrosoft Hyperlapse Mobile are some of our favorites, so take ‘em for a spin.

The City Limits from Dominic on Vimeo.

Once you’ve picked your method and captured a time-bending wonder, upload your masterpiecefor all to see. You may just find your video added to our Time-lapse category. It’s packed with the latest, most striking time-lapses uploaded to Vimeo, all of which you can easily keep tabs on when you tap the + Follow button.

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