Time-Lapse Question

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Caliber26, Nov 17, 2014.

  1. Caliber26 macrumors 68000


    Sep 25, 2009
    Orlando, FL
    I want to record a time-lapse video of a christmas tree being put up in the lobby of a Walt Disney World hotel. The amount of time that it takes the crew to put up the tree is about 6.5 to 7 hours.

    I'm going to shoot this with a Nikon D750 and use the time-lapse movie mode. It has a built-in intervalometer but I prefer to let the camera do all the work. I know how to use the feature and I know how to set the exposure I will need but what I'm not so sure of is how often I should have the camera take a picture.

    If any of you who have experience with time-lapses have any suggestions, I would greatly appreciate it. Here's a video I shot last year to give you an idea of what I'm looking to do again this year. This is just a regular video sped up but I would prefer not to do that again this time around.


  2. xStep macrumors 68000

    Jan 28, 2003
    Less lost in L.A.
    You need to know how long the play back will be and the frame rate.

    If your frame rate is going to be 29.97 and you want a 10 second movie then you'll need to record 300 (299.7) images. To record 300 images over 7 hours, or 25200 seconds, you'll set the intervalometer to trigger every 84 seconds.

    Here is an iPhone app that can help you out:
    Timelapse Helper by sighmon
  3. jdphoto macrumors 6502


    Jan 13, 2014
    This is great advice. I've used the time-lapse feature on the D800 while traveling and found it very effective. If you're not concerned about playback time though I'd say every 10 seconds. That way you capture pretty much everything that is happening.
  4. MacInTO, Nov 18, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2014

    MacInTO macrumors 65816


    Apr 25, 2005
    Canada, eh!
    I'd say take as many images as possible. You can always remove select image if you don't like the result.

    ps. I just watched the video. This one probably takes an images every few seconds. Not more than 10 seconds apart I'd think because of the quick movement. Watch the elevator on the left when it goes up and down.

    If you space images too far apart, the video will look jerky and not well connected.

    You can also adjust the speed the frame stays on the screen when you are building your video.
  5. hpucker99 macrumors member

    Nov 20, 2009

    What was the sound track from. I am looking for something similar for a Holiday collection of photos I am putting together.
  6. acearchie macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2006
    It's important as well to consider the 180˙shutter rule.

    If your interval is 40 seconds you should have a 20 second shutter speed to keep the motion smooth and non staccato.
  7. Laird Knox macrumors 68000

    Jun 18, 2010

    What is the 180 shutter rule? I can't make sense from your description. I understand what you are going for with the motion but not the numbers involved.
  8. Alimar macrumors 6502a


    Sep 17, 2014
    New York State
    If I may butt in, here is a medley I arranged and orchestrated of Public Domain Holiday Music.

    Feast of Carols

    If you are interested, I can provide a link to DL.
  9. rolsskk macrumors 6502

    Sep 1, 2008
    Set your focus point in the beginning, and then turn off autofocus! I say this from experience, because for the first couple major time lapses I did, I had autofocus on, and you could tell that it was focus hunting every now and then, causing a noticeable disruption in the movement.
  10. Laird Knox macrumors 68000

    Jun 18, 2010
    With short exposure times (less than a second) it is also good to decouple the lens. While holding down the depth of field preview button twist the lens like you are going to remove it but only turn it enough so that the electronic contacts don't connect.

    This will cause the aperture to stay at the selected setting. Otherwise slight variations in exposure will show up as flicker. These variations aren't noticeable when looking at prints side by side but do show up when stringing many frames together to make a time lapse.

    Or use a lens with a manual aperture ring. ;)
  11. simonsi macrumors 601


    Jan 3, 2014
    Or just use Manual Mode - I can't believe your advice re de-coupling either works for all cameras or is generally good for the electronics if you don't achieve full separation.

    If de-coupled in the way you describe I think you would end up with the lens' minimum aperture, not "the selected setting" as modern SLRs (inc DSLRs), stop down the aperture when the shutter fires, hard to do that if the electronics are disconnected :eek:
  12. NeGRit0 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 19, 2008
    Las Vegas, Nv

    Have you tried it? It's actually a common practice instead of having to use software after the fact to try and deflicker your timelapses. I mean if you aren't shooting with a full manual lens from the get go. Like Jeff said tho you have to hit the DOF preview button first which forces the lens to the set aperture so when you do decouple it it stays.
  13. Laird Knox macrumors 68000

    Jun 18, 2010
    It is a common practice with fast shutter speeds. The mechanical nature of the iris will produce enough variation from exposure to exposure to produce some pretty bad flicker. Manual mode does not change the mechanical operation of the aperture and you still get flicker.

    You are correct that the lens automatically opens up to the widest aperture. This is to allow for plenty of light for focusing. This is also why I said you have to hold the depth of field preview button when you decouple the lens. The depth of field preview sets the selected aperture so when you decouple it can't be set back to wide open - since the electronics are disconnected.

    Yes I am sure there are some cameras out there that this won't work with but there are far more in circulation that it does.
  14. acearchie macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2006
    It's a pass over from film where they use shutter angle rather than shutter speed due to varying frame rates.

    Your shutter speed should always be half the interval so as to fit in with motion blur that viewers are used to from film, video, etc. as a time-lapse is more a film than a photograph
  15. Laird Knox macrumors 68000

    Jun 18, 2010
    Ah, interesting. Thanks for the information.

    I am just processing some shots from yesterday. I drove 13 miles in about two hours and the sun set during that time. The shutter speeds at the beginning are quite fast but got into the seconds. It looks like I was driving about 200 mph at the end. ;)

    Since it was a test I was only shooting jpegs. I didn't want to deal with 1200 raw files. Even so it is taking a bit of time to process everything. :)

  16. Caliber26 thread starter macrumors 68000


    Sep 25, 2009
    Orlando, FL
    Thank you very much for that info. Basically, I was needing the mathematical formula to figure out how often to shoot but it turns out the time-lapse video mode built into my camera does all the thinking for you. It shows you what the final movie time will be once you dial in the length of time you want it to shoot and how often. Pretty nifty feature I look forward to using many more times in the future.

    Yep, I ended up shooting at 6 second intervals for a total of 6.5 hours but I did end up speeding up the video a little more in iMovie.

    It's from the Disneyland Main Street USA holiday music loop (starts at around 21:58).

    Yep, I did that! I learned that lesson, too, when recording regular video. If people or objects come close to the camera, it will try to refocus.

    Wow! You obviously had plenty of confidence on your rig. I would be terrified to try something like that. Hopefully it turned out great!


    In case anyone was curious about how my time-lapse from this year turned out, here's the final result.

    I should point out that the one I shared in the original post was actual video sped up and this one was created with the time-lapse movie mode built-into my DSLR, which does take individual shots and then creates the video in-camera.

  17. Laird Knox macrumors 68000

    Jun 18, 2010
    The hood of the Jeep is surprisingly level and I never topped more than 15 mph. There was just one "oh s***" moment went I hit a speed bump I didn't notice soon enough. :rolleyes: The disks under the tripod legs are vibration dampers designed for telescopes. I don't know if they helped in this case but I'm sure they didn't hurt.

    The resulting images were OK. The five second interval was a bit too much but even at that I ended up with more than 1300 images. I'm thinking of adding Yakety Sax for the sound track. ;) After the sun went down it looked like I was racing through the park thanks to the long shutter speeds.

    The park was rather full and it was fun to watch people's reactions as they realized what I was doing.

    As far as confidence in the rig? Well perhaps it is a bit misplaced but my D800s have ridden on the hood of my Jeep, turned gray from being covered in playa dust at Burning Man, ventured 100 feet below the sea and braved the odd thunderstorm. What good is a camera if you can't have fun making pictures? :D

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