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Mountain Timelapse - Guide to Shooting a Timelapse

Mountain Timelapse - Guide to Shooting a Timelapse

This timelapse of Stellenbosch Mountain consists of about 530 shots playing back at 24 frames per second (fps) giving a 22 second video. I used Timelapse Assembler to merge together the timelapse sequence.

Taking the photos was fairly easy. I set my camera on a tripod and put the camera on manual mode and set the correct exposure with an auto ISO. I then used an intervalometer to take the photos at 10 second intervals.

Taking the photos

Tripod: It is important to use a tripod to keep the video steady. If the tripod is not sturdy enough or it is windy you can hang your camera bag on it to give it greater stability.

Timing Between Photos: It all depends on how fast the motion is and the timing of the video. In this case I knew I wanted to compress about an hour into 20 seconds or so. I decided 10 seconds between each shot will do and I compressed about 53 minutes into 22 seconds. I think it is better to capture too many shots than too little. A guideline to help choosing the correct timing:

  • If clouds are moving slowly an interval of 10 seconds works great
  • If the clouds are moving normal or slightly fast a interval of 3-5 seconds works great
  • For capturing the motion of people walking an interval of 1-2 seconds is great.
  • For slow moving object such as the sun, moon and stars and interval of 20-30 works great.

Intervalometer: I used Magic Lantern software on my camera which has a build in intervalometer. Some camera’s have an intervalometer build in. Or you can use a remote intervalometer. There are quite a few brands and the prices vary depending on brand. 

White Balance: I usually keep the white balance on auto white balance (AWB) and I always shoot RAW. In post processing I set the white balance the same for all shots in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) if necessary. Otherwise AWB should suffice. 

Focus: I set the focus to manual and kept the main subject in focus which was the mountain in this case. I could have set the focus to the hyperfocal distance and have everything in focus but because I was using a relatively small aperture on a wide angle lens I did not feel the need to do so. 

Exposure Settings: Depending on scene I would advise keeping everything manual but in this case I set ISO to Auto. I used an aperture of f/10.0, 1/125th of a second and auto ISO.

Merging the photos - How to use Timelapes Assembler

I used Timelapse Assembler to merge the photos. After editing the photos in ACR I converted the RAW to JPEG and set the size of each JPEG to 4K 16:9 resolution. 4K is not an option on Timelapse Assembler yet and I wanted a 4K HD resolution video. I could have just saved the JPEG's at full resolution and then selected 1080p option in Timelapse Assembler. 



When you open Timelapse Assembler you get a dialog box like this:

Step 1: Choose the directory in which the photos are in. The photos need to be in JPEG and only the photos of the timelapse must be in that folder.

Step 2: Choose the desired Codec. I choose h.264 because it is a well compressed MP4 video. The options are: h.264, mp4v, photo-jpeg and raw.

Step 3: Choose the framerate. I chose 24fps. It depends on what you need. 

Step 4: Resize and choose a size if necessary. In my case I made the JPEGS 3840 x 2160 and chose not to resize and did not tick the box.

Step 5: Choose desired quality. Max increases the size of the file alot. I went with high which still provided a large file.

Step 6: Click “Encode”. It can take some time and there is no progress bar. Just wait and the video will be saved in the same folder as the photos.

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