Production

How to shoot a 4K timelapse film

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When shooting a timelapse, the best option is using still images rather than shooting video.  You can do this with the use of an intervalometer.  You can set an intervalometer to take a picture in time interval.  For example, you can set a camera to take a 1 picture every 3 seconds for a period of one hour.

In post production, you take those single frames and put them together in order to create a video.

You can always shoot video and speed it up, but the quality of using images with an intervalometer is significantly better.  Image capture also gives you a better resolution, even higher than 4k per images.

Set your photo camera to manual mode and shoot at higher f-stop like F8.  You will also need to use a tripod to make sure the shots are very stable.

Video from Fenchel & Janisch

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Creating a time-lapse film is a great way of showing something that we cannot experience in real life fast motion to get the best results it’s necessary to shoot single frames instead of video most professional cameras can be controlled with an external intervalometer an app or even feature an internal time-lapse mode an intervalometer takes a picture of a certain amount of time while leaving a pause between capturing each picture.

For example the camera will take a picture every 3 seconds of a period of 1 hour in post-production those single frames will be put into a sequence which results in a video film or video usually has 24 or the camera has taken only one picture every three seconds that’s why the video will be much faster than real time if it is being playback at 24 frames per second of course you could also record video in real time and just speed it up in the editing software but there are a few downsides to that the quality of photographs captured with a DSLR or a mirrorless camera is usually better than the video quality the advantage of using stills instead of video is also the resolution a lot of DSLRs can only record 1080p video and don’t deliver the sharpest or most detailed video footage

but the photo mode usually captures resolution higher than 4k even if your camera can record Ultra HD or true 4k the bitrate and sharpness are lower compared to the raw pictures taken with the same camera model to avoid spending too much time in post-production it is important to shoot manually when shooting architectural landscape it makes sense to close the
aperture to avoid something being out of focus that shouldn’t be that obviously depends on the size of the camera

but for most daylight situations it doesn’t make sense to shoot wide open for example at f1 point 4 but instead at FH depending on where and what you are capturing it is also best to keep the shutter speed between 150 of a second and 1/2 hundredths of a second and daylight to avoid a stutter effect if things are moving fast and there is no motion blur the results often distract because it is not smooth the only reason to shoot at a faster shutter speed is if there is so much motion that the shot would be blurry of shooting at a slower shutter speed fake motion blur can also be added and posed to get rid of the stutter effect but rendering that effect can take a long time when capturing real-time video for example at 24 25 frames per second the shutter speed should be 150 of a second to make it look normal for the human eye another advantage of shooting a time-lapse in photo mode is long exposure which is great for nighttime lapses

you can shoot at a low ISO to keep your noise down while also closing the aperture to get a crisp image in which most of the scene is in focus to achieve that you need to expose for a few seconds to be able to capture more light exposing long is not just the technical way of getting more light into your camera but also to create a blurry effect when objects are moving most commonly used when cars are driving the car is not necessarily visible but the front or back lights that are moving there is no rule of how long you should expose it always depends on how fast things are moving and how long the time map should be exposing for two seconds can look great as well as exposing for is no right or wrong shooting low light on nighttime lapses is definitely more challenging than shooting in daylight but the results are usually amazing

The interval between each shot should be as short as possible to avoid missing anything interesting because the camera is exposing for a few seconds each picture it is always better to shoot more than to not have enough footage or in this case pictures the most important thing is to make sure the camera is super stable and doesn’t move otherwise the shots won’t be really sharp because the camera is exposing for a couple of seconds the longer it exposes the higher the chances are that the image will be blurry especially wind can cause the camera to move even if it’s just a tiny bit.

That’s why it makes sense to use a heavy and stable tripod head with strong legs while shooting time lapses doesn’t require a lot of gear you can certainly make more dramatic and interesting looking shots by adding movement for example by using a motorized slider or a pan and tilt head the big difference between time-lapse motors and real-time gear is that the motor will only move when the camera is not capturing if you are using a slider it will only move between shots to avoid shakiness or blurry shots which is necessary when exposing long especially at night one of the most important things is to run a few tests before you finally start shooting each time-lapse checking the weather and the Sun or moonlight and reacting to that can save a short before you even start unpacking your gear also try different angles and focal lengths.

It’s easy to use a wide-angle lens for every shot because pretty much everything looks cool when being captured really wide but the variety is what makes time-lapse in so interesting capturing something with a telephoto lens can be a bit challenging because you have to decide how exactly the final framing is going to be like knowing that there is not much you can change and post regarding the framing but shorts with a long focal length can be gorgeous especially when capturing something from above the post-production is where it all comes together depending on the cameras file format the first thing to do is edit the photographs when color correcting the raw files with software like Camera Raw or Lightroom you can adjust all the settings changing the color temperature and adjusting the white balance is often useful especially for night shots to avoid the photos from being too warm or too cold saturation sharpness contrast etc can also be adjusted

After that you can either directly open the files in Adobe After Effects or if the raw file matte is not supported you can save them as JPEG TIFF or dmg files the process of color correcting on converting all the files on the original resolution can take some time but in the end it’s worth it when opening the files and After Effects make sure to import them as a sequence so the files are in the right order and are being played back as video when creating a new composition it’s important to choose the right resolution by 9 aspect ratio just like Full HD to get a more cinematic look you can select used in Europe for television while 30p and 24p is the standard in the US and some Asian countries the more pictures you have per second the shorter will be the time-lapse clip

now for the first time you can see how well the time-lapse clip turned out a typical problem is that the sequence is not really steady and looks shaky to fix that issue you can use a stabilization tool like the warp stabilizer that automatically analyzes the clip it corrects the shakiness and zooms in a bit depending on how much stabilization is needed another common problem is the change of light between each photograph that often results in flickering which means one picture is darker or brighter than the previous or next one the flicker plugins can make a smooth transition so the flickering is not visible anymore or at least minimized to avoid an extreme digital look we great the color corrected files directly in After Effects to give it a more filmic look if you want to work with the highest resolution make sure to create a composition that has the same resolution as the photographs you should apply the warp stabilizer before bringing together all the shots in the final 4k or ultra HD timeline to avoid any loss in resolution and quality.

Another advantage of the high 5k or even 6k resolution is that you can change the framing you can adjust the center and zoom in if needed that leaves a huge part of the image unseen when putting it into a 16 by 9 timeline that gives you even more space to play around and adjust the framing a great way to add some additional moving is by setting keyframes zooming in or out is possible as well as sliding the image up and down as well as moving the image to the left or right it is important that you do that with the original high resolution files or you will scale up the Ultra HD footage in case you don’t want to crop the image or change the framing then you can directly start working in an ultra HD 16 by 9 timeline our time-lapse film Frank ford moving has a cinema scope aspect ratio of 2 point 35 by 1 which allowed us to play around with the framing even more the film was captured with dsls and 5k resolution and matte Ultra HD resolution using Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro the idea was to showcase the variety of the city and architecture.

we combined normal tripod shots with tracking shots that were captured with a slider as well as a pan and tilt head to be able to show more of a location in one shot time-lapse filmmaking has no clear rules and requires the photographer to try out a lot and be creative the challenge of shooting time lapses is that you don’t know what you will get the first time you see the result is when editing.

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