How to Make a Long Term Time Lapse Video
Working on a long term time lapse video takes a lot of planning and preparation. For a project that will take months or even years, it’s important to have all the details considered and covered before beginning, to ensure the best result possible.
How to Make a Long Term Time Lapse Video
There are so many things to consider when making a long term time lapse video. We’ll aim to cover most of it here. For more help when learning how to make a long term time lapse video, take a look at our other articles for more detailed information on the different aspects of your project.
How to make a long term time lapse video: our top production tips
1. Aperture Priority
Shooting in aperture priority is your best option because you’ll face all types of lighting conditions when making a long term time lapse video. As long as everything else is locked into manual position, this setting will enable the system to automatically adjust the exposure of each shot, according to light conditions. There may end up being a flicker effect, but you can fix this in post-production.
You’ll also need to consider white balance. Select a manual pre-set (Fine/Sunny is a good option). Keeping your ISO setting on manual is a good option if your long term time lapse includes night shots as this will help avoid high-ISO noise. If all your shots will be taken in day light, putting your ISO on auto works well.
2. Quantity Equals Quality
When people are learning how to make a long term time lapse video, one of the most common questions is, how often to take photos. In the case of creating a long term time lapse video, the more photos you take, the better your finished product will be. You won’t use all the photos in the final sequence so take a lot more than you think is necessary, to make sure you have everything you’ll need.
Many factors impact whether a photo is of use. Rain, lack of activity, poor lighting, and view obstructions like a spiderweb on the lens, or a crane or fog blocking the camera’s view. When putting together your long term time lapse, you’ll have a huge variation in lighting, color, and activity between photos, and you’ll need to remove photos at low or high extremes. You’ll end up removing a large portion of your photos in post-production, so it’s always better to have too many than too few.
Even though it’s definitely better to take as many photos as possible, make sure you consider storage needs and hours of work required. One photo taken every 10-20 minutes is generally a good place to start for long term time lapse videos.
3. Plan for Worst Case Scenarios
You hope that everything will go smoothly but when planning a project as big and technically detailed as a long term time lapse video, it’s wise to have a plan B for as many worst- case scenarios as possible.
Some of the things we’ve seen go wrong include:
- Housing window becoming dirty, broken or covered by spider web
- Electronics failing or power cables being pecked through by animals
- Systems getting knocked over or crushed by debris
- Lightning strikes melting systems
- Theft and vandalism
To help mitigate as much risk as possible, install your time lapse system in a place which will be easy and cheap to access when necessary. For example, being able to access the system by a ladder will be a lot easier and cheaper than needing to use an Elevated Work Platform (EWP).
Also, by including regular, scheduled maintenance visits every 2-3 months, you can include this in your project budget, with enough leeway for an EWP if needed and time waiting for site access etc. If nothing goes wrong and maintenance doesn’t end up being required, even better!
How to make a long term time lapse video: our top post-production tips
Using LRTimelapse is the best way to remove flickering – the main enemy of long term time lapse post-production. By adjusting each photo in relation to other photos, LRTimelapse helps balance and smooth out flicker.
LRTimelapse Pro 5 interface – Image source: LRTimelapse
Object flicker can be an issue during post-production of long term time lapses. When an object or person appears in one photo and not the next it causes a staccato effect, causing distraction and making the video difficult to watch. Frame blending allows each frame to blend with a ‘ghost’ (some of the frames before and after a particular photo).
If you’ve been using LRTimelapse, this effect can be added during rendering by selecting ‘LRT Motion Blur Plus’, rendering at the three levels of motion blur to find which works best for your project.
If you’ve been using After Effects, by using the CC Wide Time effect, you’ll be able to decide how many photos before and after you’d like to blend – this also enables you to preview the effect, saving time on rendering each section to see how it will work.
One thing that people are surprised by when learning how to make a long term time lapse video, is how much scope for creativity there is in a project this size. Think about what you can do to make the finished product as interesting as possible. Consider changing vantage point midway through the project. Or add other footage including videos, aerial footage, interviews, and photos.
By using a software like Panolapse, you can experiment with 3D motion in After Effects.
Also consider adding some motion graphics, with information about the project. Interesting data about materials, site history, man-hours invested, and so on, help create interest and intrigue in the project
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