In my last article I showed you how I set up my camera to shoot the Distortion time-lapse video. Today were going to go into the aspects of processing a time-lapse sequence. A time-lapse sequence is a group of still photographs let’s say about 400 or more which once complete or produce a video clip of approximately 15 second. It may take 10 to 15 video clips to produce a 3 or 4 minute time-lapse video. The programs we will be using to process the clips are Lightroom 4 and LRtimelapse 2. You can then assemble your clips with any video editing program or the program I use Pro Show gold.
software I use.
Update Notes 9/15/2013: This workflow is for Lightroom 4 and LRtimelapse 2. Both Programs have been upgraded since this post was first written. The last part of the workflow has changed on LRtimelapse 3. If you use lightroom 3 or 4 you can use LRtimelapse 2. But if you use Lightroom 5 you will have to use LRtimelapse 3. The new LRtimelapse 3 will work with Lightroom 3,4 & 5
Lightroom 5 – You can try it for 30 days before you buy it. (learn more about Lightroom 5) This is a full version no limitations. (You need a minimum of Lightroom 3 to export time-lapse videos )
LRtimelapse 3 – You can download an evaluation copy limited to editing 400 photographs per time-lapse sequence. (learn more about and download LRtimelapse here) If you like it you can buy the full licensed version.
LRtimelapse Lightroom 3/4 HD plug-ins – These plug-ins allow you to export time-lapse videos directly out of Lightroom 3/4. (learn more about and download LRtimelapse Lightroom HD plug-ins here and click on the downloades tab) there are also professional versions of these plug-ins as well.
Pro Show Gold – you can try it before you buy it. (learn more about Proshow gold) This is the program I use to assemble my video clips into the completed video time-lapse project. The nice thing about this program is you can work with video, still images, sound, titles and captions. There are other programs out there. See a partial list below.
If you don’t already have the programs about. Download the evaluation copies to try them out.
Note: You can do this process with just Lightroom and the LRTimelapse Lightroom plug-ins however your results may not be satisfactory. Due to the flicker problems in time-lapse. Also if you have a brighter beginning or ending you can transition the exposures incrementally from beginning to end. It even handles the holy grail of time-lapse sunrise and sunset. That’s why I recommend using the LRTimelapse 2 program.
Start Time lapse Process workflow
1 Open Lightroom and import all of your photographs related to the time-lapse video into its own directory. This is important as the whole directory will be used in the processing of the time-lapse video clip. If you have any other photographs on your card not related to this time-lapse video clip, put them in another directory. You can also watch the 3 tutorials at the bottom of this article.
2 Open LRTimelapse and in the lower left-hand panel located the directory in which your time-lapse clip is located and click on the directory.
3 This is set up in a logical left to right order of operation. In the upper right panel click oninitialize. this will load all the parameters into LRTimelapse.
4 – In the upper left-hand preview panel you can now preview your time-lapse clip. Play the clip and look for an area that has an exposure even throughout the whole clip. We will define this area in the next step. You can also manually sweep across the video by dragging the small cursor just below the preview window.
5 – Click on define reference area then click OK. finding area in the preview panel that has a relatively even exposure across the entire preview video. Move your mouse over the preview section in the upper left panel left click and hold your mouse and drag the mouse to define the exposure reference area and release.
6 – Click on the Keyframes Wizard. This will identify the first and last keyframes and give them a one star rating. Additionally if you change the exposure during the time-lapse shoot it will identify those adjustments and add a 2 star rating just before the exposure change and a 3 star rating just after the exposure change. you can learn more about this at LRtimelapse.com. or watch the (Day to Night (Holy Grail) Time Lapse Processing Tutorial) below this article. But for now we’re just going to be concerned with the first and last keyframes.
7 – Click on XMP Save. This will save the information to the XMP sidecar files used in Lightroom.
8 – Go back into Lightroom and moved to the library module. Open up the grid view mode. Highlight all files. Go to the top of the screen and click on metadata and then click on read metadata to file. This will load the information from LRTimelapse. Turn on the 1 star filter at the lower right corner of the screen. This will bring up only your 2 keyframes. Go to the develop module and make any adjustments you like on the first image.
9 – Goto the develop module and go into the grid mode. Highlighted the first image. Then at the top of the screen click on photo drop-down go down to develop settings and then click oncopy settings. A dialog box will open up called copy settings. Make sure all boxes are checked and press copy. Now click on and highlight the second image in the keyframe. At the top of the screen press photo then go down to develop settings and click on paste settings. Now you can go back into the developed setting on the second image and make any final adjustments you would like on the second image.
10 – Now that the two images look the way you like. Go back into the library module and return to the grid view. Highlight both images and go to the top of the screen and click onmetadata and then click on save metadata to file.
11 – Now go back into LRTtimelapse click on the proper folder if it has not already done so. Then press Reload in the upper right-hand workflow panel second line. The next step press the Auto Transition. This will take your first keyframe and your last keyframe and all the frames in between and make a gradual transition between all frames to create a smooth transition through the whole time-lapse sequence. Next press the Deflickr button in the workflow panel. This will reduce the appearance of Flickr in the time-lapse sequence. Next press on XMP Save in the workflow panel. This will save all the new exposures in your XMP sidecar files.
12 – Now go back in the Lightroom and go to the library module. open up the grid view. Now disable the star filters ratings and highlight all images. go to the top of the screen click onmetadata and then click on read metadata from file. This will read all the information from LRTimelapse. Now go to the slideshow module. First make sure you have installed your LRtimelapse slideshow templates. You can go to the LRTimelapse plug-ins page to download and learn how to install these plug-ins. In the slideshow module on the left-hand side go to the user templates and click on LRTimelapse 24fps or whatever frame rate you would like. Now go to the lower left and press the export video button. Now you’ll get a box export slideshow to video. Select the directory and filename. Then select video preset t0 720P @ 24 fps or which ever video preset you wish to use and press save. This process could take some time so be patient once it is complete you can go to the directory and play your time-lapse sequence.
13 – repeat these steps for each of your time-lapse sequences.
14 – Assembled Video Clips
I used Pro Show Gold to assemble my video clips and add music captions and titles. Pro show gold is primarily a slideshow creation program but it also works well with video. But you can use just about any video editing program you choose or may already own. I use Pro show Gold because of already owned it. There are many low-cost and high-end video editing programs out there. These are just a few: Adobe Premiere Elements, Adobe Premier, Adobe After Effects, Corel Video Studio Pro, MAGIX Movie Edit Pro and so on. prices range from $50 to $600 and beyond and there are also a few free ones out there like Windows Movie Maker.
As you can see there are many steps to creating a time-lapse video. It may seem complicated but after you have created a few time-lapse sequences you will find that this process is fairly easy to do. I have also included a couple of tutorials from LRTimelapse below. I can highly recommend LRTimelapse 2 to create stunning professional looking time-lapse sequences. Lightroom 4 is my choice for cataloging and editing all of my photography. I occasionally usePhotoshop cs5 photomatix for HDR and Topaz labs plug-ins which works as a plug-in in both Lightroom and Photoshop. for slideshows I use Pro Show Gold for both slide shows and video presentations. So the next time you see one of those time-lapse videos out on YouTube you can now understand all the steps required to put that production together. I hope you enjoyed this article on how to process time-lapse video sequences. My next article will be on building a powered camera slide for video and time-lapse sequences.
More Time Lapse Resources
LRTimelapse 2 – Basic Tutorial |
Basic Features of LRTimelapse 2
LRTimelapse Day to Night (Holy Grail) Time Lapse Processing Tutorial
LRTimelapse – Before and After