Video Creation

How and Why to Shoot TIME-LAPSE Video

By April 6, 2018 February 25th, 2019 2 Comments

Our YouTube video on Time-Lapse creation.

This video covers with why, where, when, and how’s of shooting Time-Lapse from a broad perspective. I think every video content creator should be shooting time-lapse for their videos.

I recorded most of time-lapse clips in this video with an action camera, the SJ7 Star and also with my main camera, the Panasonic G85.

SJCAM camera on tripod shooting time lapse

SJCAM SJ7 Star action camera

Panasonic g85 camera shooting image sequence

Panasonic g85 camera shooting image sequence

Both of those cameras were new to me at the time so I wanted to try them out before putting them to use in homesteading, building, and gardening video projects.

Time-Lapse Advantages

There’s some real advantages for using these small action cameras for time lapse. They can stand up to elements like rain, dust, and in my case, a lot of sawdust.

Action cameras are durable - sawdust man cutting dewalt

They are small and discrete so they can be tucked into corners or clamped and hung almost anywhere and they don’t attract a lot of attention.

time lapse camera on clamp arm

attached to fence with arm

They have a built in wide angle lens to capture an entire scene. They are relatively inexpensive and it’s easy to add an external battery for hours and hours of recording.

sjcam wide angle lens

Wide-angle Lens

Why?

But, why shoot time lapse anyway? Sure they create some pretty pictures, but what’s the practical side to it?

In a broad sense, it can increase the production value of your video simply by having a variation of footage, angles, and styles. Time lapse can be informative and quite entertaining and funny sometimes.

It’s a great way to speed up a long process or to dramatically compress time.

time lapse video production reasons why content creation gardening

You can always speed up regular speed footage but it can be much more economical to only capture the few frames a minute that you need. And time lapse is very easy to set up. You set it and forget it and let it run. You just need adequate disc space on the camera card and long battery life.

time lapse apple compressor action camera SJCAM SJSTAR

And having some time-lapse footage is a kind of insurance in case something is missed during a shoot, or you lose footage by some mishap.

Where?

So where do you set this up? Usually where you can cover all the action or show an angle that your main camera cannot.

time lapse video production reasons why content creation garden boxes

This is where the wide angle lens is an advantage. I also look for any dramatic weather or changes in weather.

time lapse video production reasons why content creation weather

Any windy day is usually accompanied by swift and dramatic cloud movement. An don’t miss an opportunity to record a weather front or a storm approaching.

When?

When do you set it up? It should be your first camera that is running that day. Have it recording while you are setting up the rest of your location or your scene.

time lapse video production reasons why content creation wide angle scene

Set camera on ladder while I set-up camera and audio gear

Most viewers will enjoy a brief peek behind the scenes. And if you are early enough to catch it, sunrises and later on, sunsets can be very dramatic and interesting.

time lapse video production reasons why content creation when question

If you have a multi day project then a sunset time-lapse can visually indicate this passage of time to your viewers.

How?

How do you set this up? The key is to always be ready to go. Have your card formatted, batteries charged, camera pre-set, and the tripod or clamping attachment ready.

time lapse video production reasons why content creation gear needed

I have variety of tripods, flexible clamping arms, and a suction cup. It’s a good idea to have a safety tether on the suction cup in case it comes loose.

time lapse video production reasons why content creation - suction cup

camera on tether held in door frame

I clamped this cup to the hood and ran the tether into the door frame and closed the door to hold it in place. That’s a bit of extra insurance.

But in most cases you will have it in a fixed position, and mounted securely to a tripod. Once you start recording images, don’t touch the camera again until you are done. You won’t be able to change batteries and get it back exactly where it was.

time lapse apple compressor - action camera external battery

Hence the need to an external, long lasting power source.

time lapse video production reasons why content creation sjstar

The display screen at the back of the camera turns off after a while. I can hear it taking a picture so I can tell it’s still running.

Be Ready

The best way to be ready is to shot many test sequences as soon as you get any new gear. Every camera is different.

time lapse video production reasons why content creation manual camera settings

One general rule though is to have everything set on manual, your white balance, exposure, shutter speed, focus, etc. In most cases, you don’t want the camera making any auto adjustments as the light or conditions are changing through the day. There are specific exceptions to these rules so experimenting with your own gear is a must.

I always prefer to have the camera shooting still images, or in photo-lapse mode instead of video. I find it more comforting to know there’s an image written to the card every few seconds.

time lapse video production reasons why content creation countdown photolapse

Some cameras can generate a video file at the end of a pre set session but I worry that all will be lost if the camera fails or a battery dies part way through. With stills at least you should have a sequence on the card up to the point of failure. That just might save the day.

time lapse video production reasons why content creation fcpx ken burns effect

editing in Final Cut Pro

I like to shoot at 4K even if I publish my videos at 1080. This gives me room to crop or adjust the scene framing to my liking or to simulate a camera move in post production.

time lapse video production reasons why content creation god light cedar tree

I encourage all video content creators to add time laps footage to their projects. It does not cost a lot and the added value is huge.

time lapse video production reasons why content creation light through fog

setting sun through a swirling fog

 

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