Eastern Sierra Sunrise Timelapse

Eastern Sierra Sunrise Timelapse

I have a lot of timelapse sequences that I haven’t gotten around to processing yet, but here’s one from sunrise this morning!

Timelapse videos are easy to create on your DSLR. There are many software packages which will facilitate the process, some better than others, but I’ll describe the simple and relatively low cost workflow that I currently use. You’ll need software on your PC which can convert a sequence of JPEG files to timelapse video. I use VirtualDub (free download) to create an AVI format video, then I use MPEG Streamclip (free download) to convert the huge .AVI file to a much smaller (albeit lower quality) MPEG-4 for online use. Here’s the process from shooting to finished video:

Clean your camera sensor. It is hard enough to remove dust from one image… picture having to do that 300 times. Even copying dust removal from one image to the others, the data changes over time (from shot to shot), so it really won’t work well across the whole sequence. It’s far, far better to remove the dust up front. Clean your camera sensor!.

Put your camera on a sturdy tripod. Install a fully charged battery and a blank, freshly-formatted memory card which can handle several hundred images.

Compose your image expecting to lose some of the vertical information if you’ll convert the sequence to HD video with a narrow HD shape (16:9 aspect ratio).

Manually focus your camera and switch off automatic focus. If you forget to do this, your camera will insert delays in the sequence as it hunts for focus, making the playback jerky at best. Worst case, your camera may lose focus and you’ll end up with a whole lot of blurry images.

Make some test shots to determine best exposure. If practical, set exposure manually so it won’t change from shot to shot and cause flashing (flicker) as different exposures come up during playback. If the light will change a lot during shooting (sunrise and sunset), you can use automatic exposure, but then the exposure during the video is artificially stagnant, and you’ll need to to "deflicker" the timelapse to reduce flashing from frame to frame when producing the video. You will learn some very interesting and important things about your DLSR in this process! When your DSLR changes the exposure up or down 1/3 stop from shot to shot, simply "fixing" the exposure during editing will not result in similar-looking images from shot to shot! Even adjacent images taken a fraction of a second apart may have different white balance, and a slight exposure change also affects contrast, color saturation, and so on. Once you’ve gone through the process a few times your whole approach will change and you’ll try to maximize quality and consistency in-camera, not during editing.

Shoot several hundred images in a row. You can make the timing from frame to frame consistent using an Intervalometer Trigger (external timer), or you can simply hit the shutter release over and over (perhaps use the display of the prior image on the camera rear LCD as your cue to trigger the next shot and keep them at a fairly consistent rate). Remember that your finished product will be 30 frames per second, so you’ll need 300 images for each 10 seconds of video. I recommend shooting in RAW format so you can adjust the exposures during editing, especially if you shoot at sunrise or sunset where the light will change over the course of your timelapse.

Read your camera’s files into your editing software and crop them to the 16:9 aspect ratio of HD video. Remember that you have far more resolution in your DSLR than you need for HD video, so you can perform a "digital zoom" and focus on only a portion of your original camera image. Software strong in batch editing such as Adobe Lightroom (free trial available) will enable you to apply a consistent crop, exposure adjustments and even spot removal across the entire sequence of images. You’ll also want to impose one consistent white balance across the entire sequence. Some video processing software (such as Adobe Premiere I believe) will even let you specify a starting crop and a different finishing crop, then calculate a zoom and pan across your sequence of images.

Save your files in sRGB JPEG format at 1280 x 720 resolution for video to be used on sites like YouTube or Flickr that only allow smaller 720p HD format video, or save them at 1920 x 1080 resolution for 1080p video to be uploaded to sites such as Vimeo. If you’ll use the VirtualDub software, it will want you to point to the first image in the sequence then look for a sequential numbered file, so if you used automatic exposure bracketing while shooting you may be editing and saving every third file, but you can rename them sequentially so VirtualDub can order them properly.

Read the sequence into VirtualDub. It’s important to notice when trying to import them that in the dialog box where you’re looking for the first file to select, the file format has a drop-down menu which enables you to specify that it should look for an image sequence in JPG format.

Add filters as desired, in the order that you want them to apply. For example, Virtualdub can crop and resize larger JPEGs, perform sharpening at the new lower resolution, and you can search for and install a third party "MSU deflicker" filter to improve image consistency from frame to frame across the whole video. Check your frame rate and for maximum quality (but shorter result) change the default 10 frames per second to 30.

Save the video in AVI format. That’s a very high quality format, so it may save a file of a gigabyte or more! Enjoy this high quality file on your computer (or read it into video editing software to burn it to Blue-Ray DVD).

To create smaller files for online sharing, read your .AVI file into MPEG Streamclip. Save to MPEG-4, playing with quality vs. file size tradeoffs until the results are what you want.

Upload your results to your favorite video sharing site. That’s it! It takes a little more planning to pull off well and a little more time to produce the finished result, but you can produce some amazing videos.

For more information on shooting timelapse sequences, I recommend browsing the discussion forums over on www.Timescapes.org.

A slightly expanded version of these instructions, with links to the software downloads, may be found on my blog, MyPhotoGuides.com.

Posted by Jeffrey Sullivan on 2010-11-19 06:45:12

Tagged: , sunset , timelapse , HD , 720P , video , Monitor , Pass , clouds , Jeff , Sullivan , landscape , nature , California , USA , photo , Copyright , November , 2010 , Eastern , Sierra , Canon , EOS , 5D mark II

Preparing To Flickr…

Preparing To Flickr...

Almost ready to upload a new shot.

I’ve had a very busy, productive day! Which is somewhat unusual… me being retired and all. 😉
Lots of loads of laundry done, bills paid, floors vacuumed, furniture dusted, etc, etc, etc.

Anyway, I took only a couple of shots today – nothing interesting. So here ya go – a picture of a picture!

Posted by nbklx17 (Sandy) on 2009-11-03 23:25:41

Tagged: , pink camellia , flower , bloom , in the front yard , MacBook Pro , laptop , computer , photo , photograph , upload , Flickr , a picture of a picture , I’m out of ideas today , camellia , perennial , autumn , November , my everyday life , The Woodlands , Texas , Home sweet home , pink

[083/365] 3rd November

[083/365] 3rd November

The Muppets

By this day I was finally getting some sleep and getting use to the time difference. We went to Disney World for the first time today and oh my I was in heaven, it was so magical! All the characters were there including the great (and handsome) Buzz Lightyear. I wanted to get this backpack which had a button to make the wings pop out but there was no way I was going to have room in my suitcase so I settled for a hat instead, isn’t it groovy? Not sure where I am going to where it but I’ll find a way! I went on Pirates Of The Carribean, and The Haunted Mansion and Thunder Mountain hehe, so basically my favourites! The last time I went it wasn’t there, but there was this little attraction called ‘Mike’s Laughing (something or other)’ and it was so clever and very funny. I was cracking up in stiches. They pick on people in the audience and you have to fill the laughing meter or you can’t get out haha (sounds a little mean now) but it was very cool. That was it really for that day, but it was a very magical day and I couldn’t stop smiling the whole day. I send you pixie dust from my adventure *blows fairy dust at computer screen*.

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Posted by charliebarker on 2011-11-28 17:55:36

Tagged: , Disney , World , Florida , Orlando , Holiday , Vacation , The , Muppets , Charlie , P , Barker , Nikon , D3100 , November , 2011 , Project , 365 , Girl , Woman , Shorts , Hat , Phineas , Ferb , Perry