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Lesson 23 from: Fundamentals of DSLR Filmmaking

Victor Ha

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Lesson Info

23. Timelapse

Lesson Info


Timelapse is a huge animal in and of itself. And I included it in a production, in creative production ideas, in production tools because, one, I didn't have any other place to fit it, and two, I couldn't do a 90 minute segment on it because it would take 190 minutes, even more. Okay? So time-lapse is a great way of getting a visual effect. I love it. If you watched Breaking Bad, or you watched House of Cards, Breaking Bad uses it as transitional, House of Cards uses it as introductory. Okay? And time-lapse is really, really cool. And it's fun to shoot and really, you're just taking pictures, aren't ya? You're just really just taking pictures. So here's an example of time-lapse. (light music) Kay. So gonna watch it again without sound, I'm gonna talk through it. Because I know the first question people are asking, "Victor, it's moving, "did you have some motorized system?" "Did you have a motorized system?" And I said no I didn't. I set the camera up in one position. I shot my Timelaps...

e and all the motion shot was in post. Let's think about this really quickly, guys. Let's think about this really quickly. What frame size are we shooting on a 5D Mark III? We're shooting full frame 35 millimeter, which means the longest pixel dimension is 4,000 pixels. What's the frame of the video we're playing back? 1920 by 1080. So we're literally almost twice the size, in terms of image space, than we are at playing back. So if I have a full res photo at 4,000 pixels, at print res which is 300 dpi, do you think I can actually just move it and have it kinda feel like it's actually moving? Absolutely. Okay? I'm looked up marinate really quickly. I wanna make sure you guys got that. Because we are all being pushed to thinking about time lapse in a way that requires tons of equipment. And it doesn't require tons of equipment especially at the start. Especially at the start. Eventually, you're gonna wanna pan and tilt and do all that fancy shmancy stuff. But when you start, you can do a lot by capturing, and by doing it in post, and when you do it in post, you use After Effects. After Effects allows you to do all that motion and make use of the size of that file. Victor, free air photo wants to know if you could do that same thing with a crop frame DSLR. Absolutely. Absolutely. So the question is can I do it in crop frame. Yep, because the pixel dimensions are still larger, significantly larger than what we're playing back on screen. So we're gonna do a little bit of education right now. Okay, what is print res? Print res is 300 dpi. Okay? Retina, retina display is 96 dpi. So if I take something's that's 300 dpi and I put it on a retina display, which is 96 dpi, what happens? That image, boom! Gets really big and if it's a picture of a person I get their nose. You get it? You understand why? Is because in terms of display it doesn't matter about the dpi, it matters about the dimensions of that overall picture. The dimensions of the image coming off a 5D Mark III or APS-C is significantly larger than that of the frame that we're playing back on, which is 1920 by 1080. Okay? Let it soak in, if you're still confused about it later I'd be happy to come back and answer more questions. Okay? So, let's talk about time-lapse. Shoot manually. That means manual exposure, manual focus, manual white balance. You got to shoot manually. Here's why, some intervalometers, which is what actually fires the camera at intervals over a course of time, won't fire if it doesn't get focused. So if your camera's on auto focus, it will hunt and potentially miss a frame and then hunt and then you could sit there for three hours and it could potentially never take a frame. Okay? Second, you want manual exposure, because as exposure conditions change you don't want flickering. Okay? So if I'm gonna capture a sunset or a sunrise I've gotta set an exposure and make it work. Okay? And the next thing, you gotta shoot in manual custom white balance. And you gotta fix that white balance because as, think about the time of day. If it goes from dusk to night, it will get warmer in color temperature, will it? If you're in auto white balance, your camera will always try to adjust that auto white balance as the temperature colors get changed, and you're gonna end up trying to fix that in post, it's just not gonna look right. Okay? Couple other things you wanna pay attention to is grab a book, you're gonna grab the book and a comfortable chair. 'Cause you're gonna be waiting, you're gonna be sitting there for a long time. Those shots that I took, I was in London, I had a little mini tripod with me and just kinda walked around London all day and shot time-lapses. Each time-lapse was about 30 minutes to an hour. And it only gave me 10 seconds of footage. Six seconds of footage. You know? So you're gonna shoot a lot. Now, one little side thing that I'd like to say to everyone is, I get questioned do I shoot raw or JPEG. If you shoot raw it's a lot of work and huge files. It's a lot of files and it's a lot of memory. So, and it requires a huge computer to process all of it. So when the project matters shoot raw. When the project, it doesn't matter and you're just doing your tests and you're just trying to get a handle on how to make things work, shoot JPEG. Okay? I'm gonna say it one more time, 'cause I don't wanna get skewered for this later. When the project matters, shoot raw. Okay? When the project matters, shoot raw. When you're doing your tests, and you're doing your learning, and you're experimenting, shoot JPEG. Because the JPEG will allow you just to get to the process of creating time-lapses a lot more easily. Okay? Now, there is something about this that I wanna kinda reiterate, is time-lapses require a lot of photos. They require a ton of photos. Upwards of 600, 700, sometimes even 1200 photos. So if I have a camera that I spent a lot of money on, and the one thing that I wanna be worried about is the shutter wearing out. I wanna make sure that I don't use my fancy new camera for that. Because you're gonna put a huge amount of shutter clicks onto it. So there are a ton of cameras out there that are used that are still great, that'll be great for time-lapses. And they don't need to be new, and they can be used, and you can find like a Rebel or an old 1D Mark II and you can find an old 5D and it still will work, because all you need are the still frames. And what you can do is use an older camera, beat the heck outta that shutter and still have your other camera ready to go and not have to damage my camera when it, when you get to the point of putting 200, clicks onto it. And it's funny, think about it, if one time-lapse takes 1,000 photos, or even 10,000 photos, how many time-lapses can you shoot before that shutter dies? Okay? So, I really encourage you when you shoot time-lapses to do more than one, and when it comes to the tools that you need, we'll talk about that in a second, okay? I like to use a app, so I'm a big fan of Kickstarter. So I was on Kickstarter and saw this app by Vivo Labs called Michron. Okay? And Michron sent me this little thing, goes on top of my camera, plugs into my camera, and then there's another cable that comes out that allows me to interface with my iPhone. So what that does is, I load up the app, I click new time-lapse, I can set the duration and do all that stuff. You know, how many frames per second I want, how many frames total that I want, I can set all of that. Or it has like auto settings where I could pick like, hey, I wanna shoot stars. And stars, over four hours, is gonna shoot an interval of 40 seconds. Okay? And so, what it does is helps kind of like get your brain outta like the math aspect of it. Because before I used to have to sit there with a time-lapse calculator and figure out my frame rate, how many frames per second, and do all that. And the cool thing here is with that app, I can plug it into my, I can plug it in the unit, plug it into my phone, set it, unplug my phone and walk away. I don't need the phone plugged in for the entire time-lapse. What's the app called again? It's called Michron. It's right there. Michron by Vivo Labs. And you gotta get the unit for it but I think they sell 'em that too. Okay. Now when we come to time-lapse and equipment. Obviously a DSLR with a lens. Large memory cards. When you set your time-lapse and you lock it in place, you don't wanna move the camera or touch it. So that means you gotta get this big card and you gotta shoot that one card and never touch it. Make sure your battery's full as well. Okay? Extra batteries, an intervalometer, which is that Michron thing. Canon makes an intervalometer. There are a bunch of manufacturers that make intervalometers. They're usually about a couple hundred bucks a piece. I used one before I got the Michron. I just like the Michron so much, it's great. A good sturdy tripod. Doesn't have to be a video tripod. Doesn't have to be a expensive tripod, just make sure it's a good sturdy tripod. And then get a sandbag for it. Okay? Especially if you're gonna be in a place where people are walking. 'Cause obviously you can't stop people from walking around your camera, but you can definitely help mitigate and dampen some of the vibrations as people are walking to help keep that frame steady. Okay. Any questions? Question came in from cool tools who wanted to know, "Wow, huge quantity of photos. "How do we maintain battery life during "a time-lapse capture process? "Any tips?" So um, the way that, (sighs) it's tough. Because I have to position my camera, if I know I'm gonna shoot a long time-lapse over a huge amount of time, what I'll do is I'll stage my camera in a way that I can pop out a battery and not move the frame too much. There's also other things like, look up the A/C power connector for a camera, into what we will call an Anton Bauer or an IDX battery. Anton Bauer and IDX are broadcast batteries that hold a bigger charge, and they actually can power for hours on end because they're broadcast batteries. So if you're really gonna get serious about time-lapse, you're gonna wanna get into an external power solution that will allow you to operate the camera for longer than a few hours. Okay? I shot all of those time-lapses in one day. I started at one, I ended at nine, and I did it over two batteries. Like each time-lapse was only about, in terms of duration, between 45 minutes and an hour and 15 minutes, in terms of total duration. Okay? That way the camera's firing consistently. So you can use that as kind of a judge. I would say, I would say if you're gonna shoot a time-lapse, and you're gonna shoot it over a long course of, over a longer period of time, kind of investigate other power solutions. Okay? How we doing, anything else? I think we're lookin' good right now. Let's keep going. Wow. I expected more questions. This is crazy. Okay. You covered a lot. So we get questions and then you answer them. Oh, okay. Lens babies. Alright, I have one question about time-lapse. Yeah Is each picture in focus and if so, are you going for the foreground, the background, [Inaudible 00:12:39] gonna change the composition? Um, so let's watch that time-lapse again, okay? Let's watch that time-lapse again and I'll tell you where we were in terms of the focus. So, again, it's motion, right? So here I focus on the building because I'm figuring all the people are moving. Here, I focused on the bar because I figured all these people are moving. Here I focused at the distance and it didn't matter where I was focusing. Again, here, in the distance. You wanna make sure whatever static in the scene is in focus because the things that are moving are gonna be moving, so it don't matter if they're in focus. Right? And that's what really matters here. You focus on what's outside, what static. And then you use that as the gauge. And because you're shooting, you know, I mean I'll be shooting in midday and I'll probably shoot at like F11, you know, just so I get more of my scenery in focus and I like to shoot at that sweet spot of the lens between like 8 and 11. You mentioned exposure is a big deal. If you're doing a sunrise or a sunset where do you set the exposure, ,cause if you're doin, Okay so let's watch here, okay, so you're gonna see sunset coming in just a second. So now, you see how it starts to darken down? Okay, so well it's, one, it takes practice to kinda know where you're gonna be. I generally, and this is just me still practicing on ramping my exposure down. If you pick like an exposure that's a stop, under what you meter at. And I think, I think if you go a stop for every hour and a half, you can kind of get that to ramp down properly. I haven't really had a chance to kind of really experiment with it. But with my research and what I've been reading and what I've been kind of messing around with tells me is if I'm getting an exposure and I'm close to dusk, so if I'm and hour and a half away from sunset, pure dark, pitch dark, I'll get a meter, I'll meter it, meter my exposure, and I'll set my exposure under exposed purposely by a stop. And then I'll take my photographs. Okay? And then the sensors you're using are so great that actually doesn't look awful. Okay, now I know of people that do what's called exposure ramping. In exposure ramping is as the time-lapse happens they're taking readings and when the reading changes significantly they'll actually change their exposure, and do an exposure ramp, so that they're on it the entire time. Okay, now, I haven't done that a lot because, one, it's a practice. It's gonna tie me up. I can see the time. You know I mean, side note, this presentation to do CreativeLive, took about six months to create. And I was still creating assets last night. Yeah, so. So, a funny story about that time-lapse. I actually did one from 5:30AM to 9:30PM, that was, so it covers the whole range and what I did was I set it on aperture priority, so that the aperture would, or the so that, I could set the aperture and then the shutter speed would change throughout the day, and so it was fixed. I gave it enough room, I think I set it at like 640, somewhere around there so that it had enough to kinda cover both sides, and basically the problem with that is just that the shutter speed then changes so that it's longer exposures at night and shorter during the day. It's an effect and it's noticeable to me. I don't know how many people notice it necessarily. But its just, it's a work around, if you're not able to sit and babysit it all day long. Yeah. You know I think that like, um, there is definitely like a right way to do time-lapses. There is definitely a right way to do time lapses. And I'm not saying that my way is correct, I'm just saying that my way works. And I've been out in the field and I've done 'em and they work. And so I won't shoot time-lapses for more than an hour or two. Because I haven't perfected the technique past two hours. But I've got my technique down for two hours. And to be honest with you, if I tried to shoot a time-lapse for four hours I think I would go insane. I think I would really go insane. I can't sit still for four hours like that.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Victors White Board Notes - High Resolution
Pre-Production Planner
Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews

Victor van Dijk

This course was quite a treat! I had been learning piecemeal about DSLR Filmmaking but never had the opportunity to follow a course that ties it all together. And my namesake Victor is ex-cel-lent!!! Fundamentals of DSLR Filmmaking is a very very clear (I would almost say, lucid!), carefully, comprehensively tied together course teaching all you need and wanted to know about DSLR Filmmaking. Massive PLUS is that the course is first and before all NOT about the nitty-gritty technical details and numbers, but all about the basics of what filmmaking REALLY is all about. And yes, technique and gear are part of that but not for their own sake. And Victor shares that it's all about fun, and telling your story your way in the way that you like. I truly admire Victor's carefully planned and laid out path, in my opinion he planned the course exactly and meticulously like he would a full-blown movie production. And he is very open and honest and not belittling at all. He is really passionate, compassionate and 'infectious' with his happy happy mood :-)! I HIGHLY recommend this course for anyone wanting to properly and thoroughly learn the ins and outs of filmmaking, with a strong focus on using a DSLR.

Penny Foster

This is a very well constructed course by Victor Ha, who is very easy to watch, and very knowledgeable about using the DSLR for more than just taking pictures. For a Wedding Photographer like me, who wants to add some moving images into a slideshow for my client, this course was perfect. Victor shows us that, with the equipment you already own as a working professional photographer, you can get started into video RIGHT NOW, with baby steps. This is not a course on video editing, so if you need that tuition look elsewhere, BUT, Victor shows us how to set our cameras up for success right from the start, so that when we are at the editing stage, the footage is in the perfect state possible to produce excellently exposed, perfectly colour balanced material. He goes over the use of a light meter for capturing video, and how essential it is to get the exposure right 'in camera', so this is certainly a Fundamental DSLR Filmmaking course, for anyone who is already using their DSLR for stills, but who is interested in adding something else to their skill set. Victor is so enthusiastic in his teaching style, and this is a course I will keep coming back to time after time.

Sara safajar

Excellent overview on how to think as a storyteller with DSLR video. Great breakdown and really accessible examples- fun video on the making of a peanut butter sandwich- which inspire and make it feel like the video beast can be conquered. This course is packed with great ideas on not only figuring out to how to make the switch from still to motion, but also creative inspiration on how to begin thinking cinematically. Well worth the price. Great course!

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