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Time Lapse Photography
Timelapse Tutorial

Making a Time Lapse Film - Part 3

Making the Time-lapse film

Making the Time-lapse filmYou should have a sequence of images on a memory card, download these to your computer making sure they are numbered sequentially. Check a few random images and make a note of their jpeg size, picture left is a before and after screenshot of a time-lapse sequence of a tulip opening. The images out of camera were 768 x 1024 and 179kb and were reduced to 170 x 200 and 2.43kb. You can see the Tulip time lapse here...

You need to work out how big the total number of images you have, for example if there are 400 images and each one is 500kb's you are looking at a file size of about 200mb which can mean older computers will find it slow to process.

Resizing and compressing the images

Resizing and compressing the imagesOpen up an application such as Adobe Photoshop, Elements or Paint Shop Pro and select one of the final images. The reason for selecting the last image is it will be the one where you can make a final crop allowing the time-lapse to be centered.

As you are dealing with a large number of images it would be very time consuming to alter each one at a time, you need to make an action script. In Photoshop on the right in Actions, click on "create new action" you will get a box saying name which you can enter, then press record. From now on whatever you do will be recorded, crop if necessary and resize the image and go to "file" "Save for Web", select a compression level and make a note of the size and work out if it is enough to reduce the file to a workable size. Once you are happy with the image save as in a new folder, do not overwrite the original pictures in case needed again.

To run the action script in Photoshop go to "File" "Automate" "Batch" set the action name, source and destination folders making sure you do not overwrite the original images. Click Ok and the batch process should begin, it will take time depending on the size of the images.

From still image to movie

All the time lapse on this website are done using Flash, however not everybody has the software and it needs some knowledge to use. As more people are now using Windows XP, below is a guide on how to create the movie using Windows Movie Maker. I have also included a brief summary of how to do in Flash and also using an animation package such as JASC Animation Shop 3.

Windows Movie Maker

From still image to movie using Windows Movie MakerClick on Start, go to All Programs, click on "Windows Movie Maker" to open it.

You need to adjust the picture duration, by default it is set to 5 seconds which is far too slow. Go to "Tools" and click on "Options". Click on the "Advanced tab" and under "Default durations" adjust the picture duration from 5 seconds to 0.125 seconds, click "Ok".

Next step is to import the images. Go to "File" and click on "Import into Collections", locate where your folder is, click on an image, and using your keyboard press "Ctrl A" this highlights all your images, click on "Import". Windows Movie Maker will import the images into Collections, check that they are all there and are in sequence. Click on one of the images, on your keyboard press "Ctrl A" to highlight all your images. Left click with mouse button and drag and drop the images on the timeline at the bottom.

From still image to movie using Windows Movie MakerCheck all your images have imported to the timeline and are numbered sequentially. You can now test your movie, press "Play" on storyboard. If your movie is playing how you want it to, next step is to export.

Go to "File" and click on "Save Movie File". In the wizard select where you are saving the movie, enter the file name and click "Next". On "Movie Settings" by default the file size is selected, you can alter this if is too large. Click "Next" and your movie is saved, tick the tab "Play movie when I click Finish" and click "Finish", your movie should play in your default movie player.


From still image to movie using FlashOpen Flash, go to "Modify" "Document" and check the "Document Properties". Make the dimensions slightly bigger than your image, e.g if it is 400px wide make this 420px. Check frame rate, it is probably 24fps, set at 10fps. Click "Make Default". Flash can have an annoying habit of off centering the stage when making adjustments so I would now shut Flash down and reopen it.

Reopen Flash, go to "File" "Import" and point at the folder that has your images, click on just one image and click "Open" flash will prompt “This file appears to be part of a sequence of images. Do you want to import all of the images in the sequence?” Click yes. It will only import if the numbers are sequenced, any gap and it will stop at that point. Now save, go to "File" and "Save As".

You should now see the timeline has grown and is called layer 1, you can now grab the tab on the timeline and manually move to see how the sequence works or you can go to "Control" "Play" to see the movie play from start to finish.

The first thing you did in Flash was to change the "Document Properties" and changed the frame rate to 10fps – you can change that if so wished, a lower number will slow it down, bigger speed it up. If there are any frames you want removing then just click on layer 1 timeline to highlight, R.Click and click "Remove Frames".

When the movie is finished go to "File" "Export Movie" and "Save As", note by default you can save as swf, there are other formats such as avi quick time etc.

Gif Animation

From still image to movie using Gif AnimationOpen your GIF animator, shown here is JASC Animation Shop 3. Go to "File" "Animation Wizard", go through the wizard click "Next", when you get to the frame rate adjust to 10fps. Next add the images, click on an image and on your keyboard press "Ctrl A" this highlights all your images, click on "Open". Check they are in sequence, if not use the Move Up/Down, click "Next", click "Finish".

You should now see a timeline with the images, click "View Animation" to test. If you need to adjust the frame rate, click on the timeline on your keyboard press "Ctrl A" to highlight the images, right click, click on "Frame Properties" and adjust.

To save, go to "File" click on "Save As", select file name and where to save to, now adjust the "Animation Quality Versus Output Size", as it is a Gif this is limited and the file size will be bigger than other formats. Click "Next", check optomisation and click "Finish" checking the file size.

Timelapse Tutorial
Part 1 - What is time-lapse photography
Part 2 - Taking time-lapse photography
Part 3 - Making a time-lapse film

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