I had imagined making a timelapse video was going to be like wrestling a 500lb greased up gorilla, yet amazingly it isn't that hard. I've tried it a few times with my Olympus (the timelapse, not the gorilla wrestling) with "mixed" results. And by that i mean not very good ones: when I tried sowing the shots back together it was all too slow and jumpy, so I had to do some research into how the hell to accomplish a proper time-lapse. So here are some cool things I've learned too so hopefully they are of some use!
Step 0 - Get a Camera!
Well my first step was going to be buying a GoPro, BUT to start off with a timelapse you don't even need that. There are some free timelapse apps you can get on your phone (Android phones have Framelapse) that can take heaps of pictures for you and stitches them together all quite neatly. There is additional costs to unlock almost everything (so if you want to change frame rates, speed of the film etc) then that's an upgrade, but as it goes it's going to be FAR cheaper than a Go-Pro or indeed another camera as most people have a SmartPhone already. If you want to go down this route, then splash the cash - all of $3.89!! Once this is done, you'll need to mount your phone onto something or against something, but otherwise your mission is accomplished. Put the kettle on, ignore the rest of this blog and put your feet up! Alternatively if a camera phone and app aren't going to meet your needs, read on!
First, Buy a Go-Pro or a Faux-Pro!
An amazing first tip! However, any of the wide angle cameras will do and for the longest time I've coveted a GoPro copy called the SJCAM. There are many high end products from Sony, HTC etc but these guys at SJCAM look really good - it's simple, it looks a lot like a GoPro so you're used to the controls, it comes armed with lots of free stuff, it shoots in 4k, has wi-fi, a 16 mega pixel camera, and most importantly is about half the price with some great functionality. I don't get any endorsements obviously but I just like the look of their cameras.
Next, take photos!
These tips just write themselves! For timelapse I love landscape shots and since I'm right on the edge of Melbourne CBD, I like to see the clouds floating on by. The wide angle of an action camera means that you can capture a wealth of detail. Doing this with your Canon or SLR will increase the click count quite quickly i.e. when you come to sell it, people may ask you the mileage of your camera (my 7D is 21,000 ish for example) which means it's still pretty young. The higher the click rate, the longer the mileage, hence another reason I'd be keen to use the GoPro instead of my $1500 camera. I've put one together this afternoon using the steps below, so will see how that turns out.
There is though a formula to work out the number of photos you need: think about what you are photographing and how quickly it moves. I've tried a few things: being in the park; being at my desk; hanging the GoPro off the balcony. All have had mixed results but for me taking a shot every 2 seconds seems to get the images I like with the smoothness I like. I had a dig around the on internet and people have recommended the following:
I have not tried these yet so if you have, let me know! Oh, and you need none of the maths below, so don't stress!
How long do I need?
How long is a piece of string? To which my Dad would respond 'twice the lengths of half of it'. (The anecdote doesn't help! - Ed) Basically it depends on how long you want your video. There is a little math involved, but generally if you need 12 seconds of compiled cloud footage to show at 30 frames a second (as good as any) then you need 12 x 30 = 360 frames to be captured. That means in roughly 30 minutes, you'll get 900 photos which will give you a little less than 36 seconds of footage. For me I like a gentle fade in and fade out so take 4 seconds off for that too.
Go Pro Studio
GoPro Studio Controls
In the last screenshot you can see the timeline and the different functions available to you on the right. I like to fade in and out of the video to make it appear a little smoother, which is very easy to do, and you can add a quick title in there as well by just dragging and dropping. This is clearly going to need an actual video! Problem is that the audio is terrible on my computer, so the next stop is getting a quality microphone that will plug into my laptop or phone so I can record. I'll also need a screengrabber so that I can record the video itself and capture everything I do on screen...I'll have this ready for next week
Adding Music to Go-Pro Videos
Adding music to your video sounds daunting, but really with GoPro Studio it really isn't. There are lots of resources out there but what I've found most useful for me is FreeMusicArchive.org - they have thousands of musical samples and individual artists that have uploaded music and albums of work, all for free that you can use and add to your videos. Am sure they'll appreciate a donation to their site if you use it often. I love little classical guitar pieces, so I'll be using that for my next video, and I'll show you exactly how to do that next week!