I enjoy making time-lapse videos. It’s nice to see the things in life that seem to take a long time magically happen before your eyes. I have experimented with a few of these things, but the world is full of time-lapse worth things: Flowers blooming, Buildings being built, seasons changing, traffic going by, the list can go on forever. There are many ways you can do time-lapse photography. The one I have chosen to write about includes a remote timer. My method for capturing the images for a video that defies time is a bit time-consuming, but in my opinion well worth it.
Because this is a multi-step lengthy process, I have decided to break it down into a few blog posts. This post will focus mainly on the equipment used.
I shoot using a Canon 40d, with the Canon BGe2 dual battery Grip (for double battery life) or sometimes the Canon ACK-E2 Ac Power Adapter if an outlet is available. I have left the camera shooting 1 shot every 30 seconds for about 12 hours while camping (see Timelapse – Camping Blog Post) with the dual battery set up with no problem. That may vary in colder weather. The remote of choice for me is the Canon TC80N3 Timer Remote. This timer allows you to do interval shooting, long exposures, customer self-timer and exposure count. Couple that with whichever lens suits your needs and you’re ready to start shooting.
When shooting where light will be changing, I trust the camera and put it on Auto White balance. If the shot is shot all in controlled lighting, i will set the white balance manually so there is no change to the video. I leave the camera on aperture priority for the most consistent results over long-term shooting. You may be tempted to shoot RAW, but remember about the volume of images you will be dealing with. Both card size, hard drive size and time will all be pushed to the limit if set on raw. I have had excellent results shooting on medium or large quality JPEG.
Experimentation is the only way to find how often you want your camera to snap an image. My standard time is 30 seconds, but experiment and see what works best for you. Longer applications may need less shots: buildings being built, seasons changing, etc. Faster things, such as flowers blooming may need more frequent shooting. I have not found a magical number that suits my needs. Usually i do a bit of math by figuring what frame rate I should use (I guess around 25-30fps, though I have no video training), how long I want to the video , and how long I’m going shooting for. In there somewhere I would find out how many shots i need and what the duration would be. Trust me I’m not a mathmagician.
So if what I’m going to shoot is 1 hour-long (3600 seconds), and i want to have the video be 30 seconds with a frame rate of 30 fps?
Multiply 30 (seconds) x 30 (frames per second)
30 x 30 = 900
I would need to take 900 pictures in that hour. Divide the total time (3600 seconds) by the number of frames (900) and you find out how many seconds apart the shots should be.
3600 / 900 = 4
So every 4 seconds my camera should snap a shot. Again I’m not a math wiz, so this may be off, but it gives me a general idea. your exposure times will throw this off of course, usually fast shutter speeds wont matter, but longer ones will.
(subject real-time in seconds) / (video length in seconds x frames per second) = interval between shots
I hope this helps set up your next time-lapse. it will at least give you a frame of reference as to the metrics of the project. In the next blog post i will show what I do with these photos.