Hmm, time-lapse... I don't know how to call this in Slovenian, but since the term is so well-established and universally known, I won't even try too hard. Accelerator? In a hurry? No, no…that's ridiculous. Let it be a time-lapse.
For all those who don't know what it is, here's an explanation. It is simply a video where we speed up the action with the help of a camera. As we all know, a video is made up of a bunch of consecutive shots that give us the feeling of continuous motion when played back. The same applies to time-lapse recordings, except that instead of the usual 24/25/30 recordings per second, we take one every few seconds or even minutes. When we put everything together, of course, we get a recording with a standard playback speed, and everything happens faster on the scene than in reality. Such recordings can sometimes be real feast for the eyes, especially because they transport us to another time dimension. When playing, we see things in a way that we are not used to. For example, we see how a plant grows from a seed in a few 10 seconds. Or maybe we're fascinated by clouds that sweep across the sky in seconds, showing us patterns of wind and air masses. The possibilities are endless…

I made one such recording last year, when we were leaving Dugi otok by ferry. I think the camera took a shot every second and a half. So in playback, everything happens about 20 times faster than in reality.



How to proceed if we want to create our own time-lapse recording?

If you are not particularly demanding, you can also use your smartphone for simple shots. Most modern devices support video recording in this mode as well. Unfortunately, at least on my phone, I can't really influence the recording speed, or the interval between the intervals when the camera takes a picture. For those who would like a little more control, there is also a set of applications that can be streamed to the device. There, you can record time-lapse in different situations by setting different intervals of individual shots. Not all settings are the same for different scenes. More on that a little later.


What equipment do we need?

To get started, in addition to a camera or smartphone, we need a practically mandatory piece of equipment that most photographers already have in their collection - a tripod. The recordings must be made from the same place and without moving the equipment, because we don't want the recording to shake during playback because we filmed handheld. Let's not forget - the final shot consists of a lot of static photos and these must be taken from the same, stable position (except for the hyper-lapse shot, which I will present another time). For the simplest shots, we can place the camera or phone on a solid base and secure it from moving, but this is really improvisation. For all those who want at least a little more quality and control, a stand, even the simplest one, will be a necessary part of the equipment. Well, here's a quick basic list of equipment that won't exactly hit our pockets:

Digital photo camera
I recommend a single-lens reflex camera or at least a slightly more powerful compact camera that has the option of manual settings.
The camera must be absolutely still during shots, otherwise the shot will be stressful. The quality of the tripod is not the most important factor, even the simplest one will do its job well if there is no strong wind. Just don't touch it during the recording.
This is actually a slightly more elaborate wired (electrical) trigger, which allows automatic trigger settings at the intervals (spaces between shots) that we imagined for our project. To begin with, you could improvise and use a regular wire trigger and, for example, press a button every few seconds, but this option is a bit awkward, especially if we are tackling slightly longer projects. An inexpensive and purely useful intevalometer won't cost us a fortune either. We can get it for 20-25 EUR.
On it, we will use the software to combine the individual clips into a single film/video. We also need software that will allow us to combine the recordings. More on that a little later.



In addition to the listed equipment, it is good to learn some basic rules so that we are satisfied with the result. Here too, the rule is that practice makes perfect. Most commonly, we will tackle all this with a digital photo camera (from now on I will write only about this option), where we must use the following settings:

Settings on the camera
The exposure time and aperture must be set to manual setting M (manual). With this, we will avoid the constant automatic adjustment of the camera to different light, because this will cause us to shake due to differently lit individual shots. We have to do the same with setting the color temperature of the light. We mostly shoot with the AWB (Auto White Balance) setting. Here, for a similar reason as in the above paragraph, we use the manual setting. It can be set to sunlight, shade, artificial light... depending on where the shot will be taken. It is only important that the setting is manual, because otherwise there will be flickering, not of the light, but of the colors. We must not forget about an important setting and that is the resolution. If we are going to play the final video in HD resolution, we must (if possible, of course) set this already on the camera, otherwise we can also later adjust and crop all the recordings accordingly in an editor such as Photoshop. We will just impose a little more work on ourselves. For ease of work, the aspect ratio of the recording should therefore be set to 16:9, which is the standard of most video recordings and your home TV usually has this ratio as well. In this way, we will use the entire screen during playback and avoid the risk of "cutting off" something above and below in the final recording. The standard format on the camera is 2:3.
Intervalometer settings
Depending on the subject, we set the time interval between individual shots. Some approximate values are like this: Moving clouds 1-3 seconds between shots, traffic 1-5 seconds, setting or rising sun 5-10 seconds, germination from a seed 10-30 minutes between shots...
What about the number of recordings for such a project? Since the final video will be played at a "normal" speed of around 25-30 frames per second, we need to make somewhere between 250 and 3o0 frames for a decent clip that will last, say, 10 seconds.


Additional equipment

For all those who would take it a little more seriously, it is good to have some additional equipment. For example, if we are going to record the germination of a seed, it will be a process that will not end in a few minutes. Constant standby, however, has a big impact on the battery in your camera. Even if we set the camera so that it will not show us the footage on the screen (which is known to consume energy), it can still be regrettable if the battery runs out in the middle of the project, and on top of that we do not notice it at all (no one will standing next to the camera all day). To avoid this, I recommend buying a "blind" battery that can be connected either to the network or to some other source of constant power, which will ensure smooth operation. The same applies to the intervalometer, although it will be enough to pay attention and always have fresh batteries inserted. It is also very important to pay attention to the light. If we are going to shoot indoors for a long time (for example germination or plant growth), we will need a stable and really even light source, which is crucial for a quality result. In this case, it is recommended to use studio flashes or even manual flash. We cannot depend on daylight because it changes too much. However, we generally run into this problem when we shoot for several days together, even at night (plants grow even then). At the same time, the intervalometer will trigger the flash, which will provide even and stable lighting. For longer recordings, I do not recommend the use of studio LED lights, because they will burn constantly and, despite their relative economy, are an unnecessary consumer of energy.


Software for combining clips

There are quite a few applications available that allow us to merge clips into a video, for my taste this is the best LR Timelapse, but which requires you to have Adobe Lightroom installed on your computer. It is also paid. Fortunately, the developer also offers a demo version, but it is limited to 400 recordings for each project. In principle, this is sufficient for a 15-second clip and is quite enough for most people and for the beginning. However, this is not the only and most ideal option. There is quite a bit of this software available and someone who does a bit of searching on the net will quickly find what they need.


That's all for now. I hope I have encouraged someone to take up the matter.


Here are some links to purchase equipment. The links are just a basic guide, and everyone can find and choose the equipment that suits their camera.
Power supply



A few more recordings made on this topic: