Timelapse Checklist

When creating a timelapse, they are many things you need to remember.

This check list is more suited towards DLSR cameras, but it can be applied to most applications.


A still from a timelapse of Salford I did in November 2013

  • Plan
    • Planning is key to a successful timelapse
      • Calculate the time needed to complete the timelapse by figuring out either how long you want the resulting video to be, or calculate how much time you want to capture (E.g a sunset)
      • Ensure no-one will move your camera if you aren’t always there
      • Charge you battery or use an external power supply
      • Format your SD/CF cards so you have plenty of space
      • Calculate if you have sufficient space on your memory card. Take a picture of the scene (or a similar scene) and use the filesize to work out how many will fit of on the card
  • Focus
    • Not just yourself but the lens, too!
  • Lock Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO
    • Ensure that the exposure is the same throughout the timelapse (you can change it over time but this is for more complex timelapses)
    • If your lens doesn’t have a manual aperture ring, and your camera has a depth of field preview button, you can lock the aperture blades in place to stop any minute changes in exposure.
      • Hold the Depth of Field Preview button at the same time as releasing and twisting the lens slightly. This disconnects the lens from the data points in the lens mount and keep sthe aperture blades in place
  • Lock Colour Temperature
    • A change in colour will be noticeable on playback (applies more so for JPEGs).
  • Decide between Raw and JPEG
    • If space is limited, or if your computer cannot handle the processing power required, you will need to shoot JPEG. Raw is recommended, however, for flexibility.
  • A Solid Tripod/Mount
    • It’s important that you don’t have any unintended movement or shake
  • Glare
    • Look for glare if shooting through a window. I don’t recommend shooting through windows because of glare and dirt. However, there are many occasions where it is unavoidable.
  • Image preview off
    • This will save battery life. It may make it difficult to stop the camera though.
  • Video
    • Consider shooting video with a low frame rate if you’re worried about shutter wear.

I thought I’d add some extra tips here, too:

  • Post
    • If you plan on creating a 1080p (or lower) resolution video, you can take the full resolution stills (these should be much larger than 1920×1080) and create pseudo pans and movements by using a program like After Effects to move the image around the 1920 x 1080 frame.
  • Magic Lantern
    • ML has a built in intervalometer (as well as many other features). The camera will fire the shutter itself at a set interval without any extra equipment.
  • Lightroom
    • If you own Lightroom (if not, download the trial version), you can quickly edit the whole sequence of photos by selecting them all and click “Sync” at the bottom right. This will apply the changes you’ve made (any option/correction) to the selected photos
  • Create the Video
    • Premiere Pro and After Effects make it easy to create timelapses.
      • In Premiere Pro, import the images but remember to tick “Image Sequence” in the import dialoge box. This will create a video clip. Remember, it will likely be the full resolution of the original photos. Create a sequence that is 1920 x 1080 and scale the clip down to fit.
      • In After Effects, it is the same process but you need to set a default frame rate for image sequences before you import the files. Go to the Import section of your Preferences and you will find Sequence Footage settings. Simply change the number to the desired frame rate. 24 FPS for movies, 25FPS for PAL broadcast and 30FPS for NTSC broadcast

I hope you found this useful!


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