A client recently asked me to create a series of time-lapse videos on its Website. I did some research that I wanted to share:

First, what are time-lapse videos?

Time-lapse photography is based on the concept of capturing film frames (also known as frame rates) at much lower frequencies than used to play the sequence back. When these sequences are played at the regular speed, time appears to be moving faster.

Most cameras and smartphones have an in-built time-lapse photo/video mode. While in-camera outputs seem appealing, many professionals still use manual processes to create time-lapse videos. If you’re looking to do something more than what an iPhone or Android camera offers, here’s a four-step process to shoot a time-lapse video:

1. Plan and pick the right subjects
For a great time-lapse video, preparations are really important. You will need to determine what to photograph, where to shoot, and the time of day. Since the time-lapse technique is used to artificially speed up time, select interesting subjects and the appropriate frame rate.

2. Tripod and level
Use a tripod to avoid a video that shakes or rolls. Place your camera on a tripod and level it. If you have a recent DSLR camera, use its leveling system to balance and adjust the leveling. Then, adjust the legs to ensure you get the perfect shot.

3. Get ready for the shooting session
Select the right format for your images: RAW takes higher quality images than JPG, but JPG uses 60% less storage. If your DSLR has a live view mode, use it see the scene and set the focus on the subject. Then, select the appropriate shooting mode. Here are a few tips to prepare your camera:

i. Select manual mode or select the aperture priority mode, which lets you set the aperture of the lens and the camera will select the right shutter speed.
ii. Avoid using Auto ISO and select an ISO value.
iii. Select the shutter speed and aperture value.
iv. Select the right white balance; don’t use automatic white balance.
v. For the lens settings, do it manually, which minimizes flickering during the shots.

4. Set the photograph intervals
Next, decide how many pictures to shoot and the intervals between shots. There is no standard here. It largely depends on the subject being shot.

Using TV standard and Full HD 1080p, assume an average of 25 frames/second. It means that one second of a time-lapse photo uses 25 frames, a 20-second video will need about 500 frames, and one minute will involve 1,500 frames. To determine how many frames are needed your video, use an online time-lapse calculator such as Photopills or Omni.

Taking the right photos is the first step to making a perfect time-lapse video. Prepare in advance, pick the right subject and use the right parameters. You can then use editing to create a time-lapse video that makes an impact.

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