Doing a Timelapse (Part 2)

Well I'm back at the "studio" (AKA the dining room table) which is unfortunately near the TV which is unfortunately near the PlayStation. So I've spent much of this morning playing the PS3 while coming back to my computer to check on how things were going with rendering and such.

As of right now, just after lunch, I've completed the first 800 images, transforming them into sixteen second clips which I'll have to then put into iMovie to put them all together. Now I've got the next 400 images to complete, which should be the most fun because they're of the sunset.

The reason I've had to split my images into three sets of 400 is because I'm using the free demo version of LR Timelapse. This is one of two programs I've been using to make my time-lapses, the other being Lightroom.

I'm going to walk through the steps that it takes to work these two programs in sync as I go through and do it myself. If you want to skip this part, be sure to have a look at the end product below.

How to Use LR Timelapse

After you've imported the images from your camera, the aim of the game is organisation. Firstly put your images into well named folders that you can easily find. I've got my images in "Timelapse" then "Sunset From Hill 1" and "Sunset From Hill 2" and "Sunset From Hill 3". For me, it makes it easier if I've used Lightroom to import and organise these folders, since I'll be using it to edit them. Next, you'll want to open up LR Timelapse. If you haven't downloaded it, you can do so here . After that, open up the folder which holds your images and wait a moment for them to load.

As they load, a blue line will snake its way across the image in the top left of your screen. This is how the "luminance" (or exposure) in each of your images has changed. If it's fairly straight then that's great, but for sunsets it'll normally go down as you travel further to the left.

Open up the tab up the top that says "visual workflow". I've used the "basic workflow" before but the visual one includes a very handy de-flickering function. The rest of the process is fairly simple, especially if you've done it a few times already, but you basically follow the actions from left to right.

So first of all, you'll want to select the keyframes wizard. Your keyframes will be the images that you edit in Lightroom and from which the rest of the images will receive minor edits of their own. I normally select five keyframes which will go in at even points across your images (at the 1st, 100th, 200th, 300th, and 400th images), but this time around I'm going to select a couple more at 245 and 246 (see the above image). This is because I changed the exposure quite drastically between the two, so now I want to match those as close as possible. Otherwise there'll be a sudden, distracting change in exposure when video gets played back. Save your keyframes and go to Lightroom.

In Lightroom, navigate to the folder that holds the images, go to "Grid View" (press "G" to get there), select LRT4 Full Sequence as the filter you want to sort your photos and select all ("CMD-A"). Always use grid view unless you're editing your keyframes. Otherwise your changes might not be applied. Up the top, go "Metadata" and "Read Metadata From Files". Metadata is the way that LR Timelapse and Lightroom will communicate.

After it's read this metadata, select the preset "LRT4 Keyframes". You might notice that all your keyframes have four star ratings This is simply what the keyframes wizard in LR Timelapse does. Select your first keyframe and edit it.

If you're happy with your changes, go back to your keyframes in grid view, select all and up the top, select the little scroll symbol that's next to the help tab (this is on a Mac, so might be different on a PC). Select "01 LR Timelapse Sync Keyframes" for your edits to be carried over to the other images. Always make sure the image your using as your "master" (i.e. the one your copying edits from) is highlighted more than the others. Otherwise you might select the last image and accidentally sync the edits to your other images. Edit your second keyframe, go to grid view, select your unedited keyframes and sync keyframes again. Repeat for the rest of your keyframes. Then go back to the grid view of your keyframes, select all, and save metadata to files.

The second image here is the "master" one since it is highlighted more than the others.

Go to the next line in LR Timelapse, and select "reload". This will show the changes in the keyframes you've made with a yellow line across the image, but without applying them to the blue line (that is, your original image). Select "auto-transition" so that LR Timelapse can work out the changes between your keyframes, then press save.
Now onto line three! Select "visual previews" and then wait. Now is a good time to go back over to the PS3.

When that's finished, apply some "Visual Deflicker". The less you do the better, but I try to do around 15-20 on the scale they give you. This deflickering is shown on the image thumbnail as a green line, and you can see it change in shape as you change how much you apply. Then press save and head back to the PS3.

Okay, so that's all done? Switch back to Lightroom, show all your images in grid view (by having your filter as "LRT4 Full Sequence"), select all, and read metadata from files one last time. This is gonna take a little bit to do, but not super long so just be patient.
For your last task, if you choose to accept it (which I hope you do because you've done so much work for it), is to export the images. Make sure they're all selected, go to export in Lightroom, select your output path (where the file will be saved to) and name the sequence. Then press export.

You'll be waiting a long time for this one so probably grab a coffee on top of a couple of tries on the PlayStation.

The Mac always works hard when doing this kind of stuff.

Once the video is exported, it'll open up again in LR Timelapse. I usually leave the settings their highest values. Using the demo version that is 1920x1080p at 24fps with the quality set to "high". I don't crop the video into 16:9, despite that meaning the quality will be decreased, since I like to crop the video when I have more control in a program like iMovie. That also means I can do things like ken burns to move around the frame (see my Dampier Salt Sunset time-lapse for an example of those).

So now all that's left to do is to put it all together in iMovie. You might have different ways to do this or use a different program so I'll end the walkthrough here. Hope your time lapses turn out well. I've inserted a couple of mine below, including the one I've talked about here.

The Final Product

Here's the final product, or at least the last 15 seconds of it. Check out my Facebook for the full 48 seconds.

So that's that. I hope you enjoyed this two-parter and, if you did, feel free to share it around (especially with someone who might find it useful). If you want to keep up with the blog and my photography, you can like my Facebook page and/or follow me on Instagram.

JR

Joel Gibson

Read more posts by this author.

Perth, Western Australia

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