How To Shoot Your First Time Lapse Video: Complete Guide

With this step-by-step video lesson, you’ll be able to master the art of timelapse photography. This is all you need to know about how to shoot your first-time lapse video, whether you’re a novice filmmaker or a seasoned pro seeking new ways to spice up your projects.

What Is a Timelapse, Exactly?

A timelapse movie is just a collection of pictures stitched together to produce a film in which time appears to move faster. Thousands of photographs can make up a timelapse movie; the more photos in the sequence, the longer the movie.

How to Shoot Your first Time Lapse Video

With this step-by-step video lesson, you’ll be able to master the art of timelapse photography. This is all you need to know about filming timelapse movies, whether you’re a novice filmmaker or a seasoned pro seeking new ways to spice up your projects.

How and when should you use timelapse?

‘Normal’ video footage is usually shot at 24 frames per second (or 24 fps), which resembles what we see with our own eyes in real-time. We may influence the passage of time using timelapse films by capturing each picture at a considerably slower rate, such as one-shot every few seconds, minutes, or even hours. When we combine these images and play the film back at a regular speed, it looks like time is passing considerably more quickly.

This enables us to record events that would normally take hours, days, weeks, or even months to complete and replay them in seconds or minutes, as if we had hit fast-forward on reality itself.

A flower that appears to bloom in a matter of seconds rather than a day is an example of a timelapse film. Or a spectacular sunset that appears to begin and end in a single minute rather than a whole evening.

  1. Turn on Time-lapse Movie mode on your camera by pressing the Menu button and selecting Time-lapse Movie mode from the red menu.
  2. While in the Time-lapse Movie mode menu, use the Info button to view the options for your Interval time and Number of Shots.
  3. Choose an Interval number to define how often your camera should capture each photo, for as once per second or minute. The length of your intervals will vary based on the subject. Slow-moving objects like drifting clouds of blooming flowers need more time between photos (e.g. one shot every 20 or 30 seconds). Fast-moving items like fast cars and busy cityscapes may require a shorter period of time (e.g. one shot every two or three seconds).
  4. Set your No. of Photos to inform your camera how many total shots you want. Your camera will automatically tell you how many videos you will finish up with and how long you will need to shoot to get it based on the Interval number and No. of Shots you put in.
  5. Take your picture and press the shutter button. When photographing time lapses, it’s a good idea to use a tripod to keep your composition consistent throughout the session. Then press the shutter button to let your camera take the photo.

There are no hard and fast rules, and various settings are required for each scenario or project. However, keep in mind that most internet material is 24 or 25 frames per second (fps), which means you’ll need about 25 pictures for every second of the video clip.

As a general guide, the following numbers should be used to determine your shot number and ultimate movie length:

  • 30 seconds of timelapse film from 750 photographs
  • 1 minute of timelapse footage = 1,500 pictures
  • 3 minutes of timelapse film from 4,500 photographs

Equipment & Cameras to Use When Shooting Timelapse Videos

Camera – A built-in Time-lapse Movie option is available on several Canon DSLR and Mirrorless cameras. If your camera does not have a built-in time-lapse capability, you may still make a timelapse by connecting an external intervalometer to your camera and using it as a remote shutter release.

A solid tripod helps guarantee that your camera and composition stay consistent throughout each picture. When taking hundreds or even thousands of handheld photos, this is impossible.

Lenses — A wide-angle lens, like the EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM, will let you catch more movement in bigger settings like cityscapes. You might want to use a macro lens to get up and personal with a blooming flower to capture its tiniest motions. Prime lenses with wide apertures, like the EF 35mm f1.4L II, can be useful in low-light situations such as sunrises and sunsets, or while photographing the night sky.

Timelapse Tips for Beginners

Slower shutter speeds such as 1/50 or 1/60, can provide smoother time-lapses and allow you to catch the action in a more fluid manner.

Be Patient — To produce a brief 30-second time-lapse clip, you’d need to collect around 720 photos, which would take over an hour to record at a five-second interval. Keep this in mind, and bring warm clothing, a flask of coffee, and something to occupy your time while you wait for your timelapse to finish.

Monitor Your Battery Power — Because time-lapses take far longer to generate than ‘regular’ films, you’ll want to be sure your camera’s battery will survive the entirety of your shot.

Keep an eye on the number on your ‘Card-Time Left – A ‘Card-Time Left’ number will appear in the Time-lapse Movie mode menu of your camera, indicating how much space your memory card has in terms of time. This is crucial to keep an eye on since you don’t want to set up an hour-long timelapse shoot only to discover that your memory card is full halfway through.

Shoot in Manual Mode When you’re just starting out, shooting in automatic or semi-automatic settings (such as aperture priority or shutter speed priority) might help you get things done faster. While filming hundreds or even thousands of frames, even the slightest changes to your exposure might cause flicker when watching back your timelapse. You may dial in the exact setting and hold it throughout the sequence by filming in Manual mode, which eliminates flicker.

With this instructional series, you may learn more about photography and camera visits here.

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