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Getting There : Art of Time-Lapse Photography

All the big noise around Time-Lapse is nothing but an art of planning and organizing your stuff. Time-Lapse is one of the easiest forms of photography but the only complication or issues it has attached with it is – “TIME” as it states in its own name. You would need to organize a lot in terms of your location, what time of the day, the storage, the battery supply, the right mode of angle selection/lens type.

After going through a lot of good, bad and ugly topics, I want to keep this as simple as possible for all the layman to follow from here.  As I mentioned at the beginning it is not at all a hard thing but it involves a lot of resources be it your time, memory cards(Storage), hard drive space, processing speed and few mini endless things you would brag about when you finish your Time-Lapse. An art if you get it right as I am not too much into it but since the arrival of my Go-pro Hero 3 – it has made life easier.

Time-Lapse basics : You would capture essence of the moment, space, motion, light and everything that is frequently in motion around you except your camera. It is more or less like – when in those childhood days you used to draw around the bottom of your notebook on 100 pages and flip them together to see the motion getting generated. So to begin with you would need to figure out where you are planning to shoot and what the resultant would look like – In short – Plan ahead. Managing your time in terms of what kind of resultant would you get if you are to setup your camera on some place and what you expect in the end would be decided by your original placement, view and time of the day.

Using the DSLR you would notice that you can end up eating your battery pack in 1000shots fairly soon and indeed the shutter count of your DSLR would leave you out of your shutter life in total if you are regular photographer whose camera stays closer to your hands than in your camera bag or in some corner of your precious locked shelf. After trying to use my DSLR for Time-Lapse I realized it is possibly not the best way forward to take this approach. I hence moved to the GoPro as it can clock lot more shutters and that is what it is made for.

Now technically, you would need to place your Camera somewhere you are likely to get some good views. When I tried Time-Lapse years ago, I was naive in terms of processing, knowing the FPS  factor and at how much rate it should be used.  A fairly simple example : which is not the best one but to show how a bad frame rate would result leaving the pictures blending fairly uneven.

Points to note : Ensure your camera is on the solid, still base. Regardless be it a Tripod or your car hood or your window pane. You would want to ensure that the movement is next to zero to have the smooth viewing pleasure from it.

Starting with your camera settings: A very important step as your final product will be based on your very first step – which basically means your angle, settings and how you want to start tracking it. Once the camera has been set up, I highly recommend to leave it at one place till you finish that one part of the capture. Generally, it is a wide angle that is being used for capturing huge, wide and vast vistas but you may want to limit yourself to a particular selection depending on your choice. If using Go-Pro, you would generally get a very wide angle view so you either would have to crop your pictures in Post Processing(PP) or in Video editing software. We will talk about all that later, but now – the basic thing – initial setup.
Do remember to adjust your exposure – according to your time of the day and light situation. These can also be changed in after shots using Post Processing but try to avoid it as it becomes a very time consuming process.
I generally prefer to shoot RAW but for Time-Lapse if shooting on a DSLR, I would stick to JPG format to give me more versatile option of huge space. I can edit them afterwards in camera RAW with quite similar options as on RAW images but I generally plan ahead to avoid this from happening. Using GoPro Camera, I would use a 7MP mode to give me a a good view storage size and lots of shutters. I use 32Gb Card in GoPro and the battery generally lasts me upto 90minutes with ease on full charge.  Using 7MP mode – I could generate upto 15k images using two battery packs.

Completing your shots capture: Try to use a remote trigger on a DSLR or you possibly used a Intervalometer. On a GoPro 3 I use a inbuilt wifi to trigger the start and stop mode unless the battery runs flat. If you want to go back to where you left, try not to move or change your Tripod position. Remove the camera from the tripod base without moving it from its original location so to avoid losing the smoothness in your shots. On most DSLRs you would be able to take out the battery/memory cards without having a need to remove them from the Tripod or without moving them. On a GoPro 3, you need more caution due to its small structural size.

Transferring your pictures: As one of the big steps towards this would be successfully moving your images into one single folder as it helps you get a view of all shutters and if you know that you may want to remove some of few shots due to any unwanted movement – you can delete that particular selection. Keeping your raw images in one single folder will also help you streamline your process and save you your valuable time. Try it !!

Processing your pictures: In the past, I have used the Photoshop to process my Time-Lapse but since the advent of GoPro3, it has an inbuilt feature which can make your life lot more easier, simpler and exciting using the GoPro Cineform Studio. Try it regardless where you shoot. GoPro CineForm Studio is a free download from the GoPro Site.

Once downloaded, setup is straight forward and easy.
Once Installed, launch the software icon from the desktop or from the start menu

Launch Screen

Launch the software and click on Import (above)

Click on Import New Files(Below)
Point to note : You will have separate folders(each full folder should have 999pics) for pics in your memory card – so to make life easier, transfer them all to a folder name to your choice or I call it (RAW).

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When you click on the Import new Files, you will get an option to browse to the folder where you saved all the files (below).

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Press “Ctrl+A” to select all and then click on “Open”
You will be amazed with the clever piece of software bit – It makes all the items come together in their own timely manner.

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The first clip on your left hand pane under – Import new files (above) shows you the time length of the total selected pics put together.
But hey, this is a Time Lapse so we want to add a little speed into it.
In this case – it is a quick Time Lapse (848Frames) which comes out to be 00:00:28:08 which would further be reduced in its play time as I speed it up.

So, carefully know how fast or slow you want to play your video. You can always do it again but will have to start from scratch of this following step.
Click on “Advanced Settings”

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I would keep the Frame size as 1080P as proposed to the source. (See Below)
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Click OK on the above box. And you will return to the main window (Below)
Click on File name : Choose your own name
select the final file location : Wherever you want the resultant file to show up.
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Click on the Conversion List and the video will show on the Conversion List.
& Click on “Convert All” button
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You will notice once the processing starts – the red bar starts to show under the Clip.
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Once completed, you need to click on the “Proceed to Step 2″ – This is where you can adjust/modify the clip setting to your own likings.
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Welcome to giving those final touches.
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Now, on the right hand side – you will see the Presets option – click on that and your video will suddenly swing into life.
Also, you can play with lot of other sliders on the top – name the video to your own choice.
Once done, click on EXPORT MP4 -

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Once done, you will have your end product ready for you.
In the easiest possible steps for all the novice users too.

Any questions, feel free to ask.
Lets share and learn in the process of sharing :)

 

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