60 Minutes to DIY Digital Content: A Momentary (Time) Lapse
Skyscrapers are built, the sun rises and falls, flowers open … and it happens in seconds, using time-lapse photography.
Maybe you’ve looked at sublime time-lapse films like this, seen digital content creator contests like Intel Momentary Lapse, and think “that’s not me, that’s the province of enthusiasts and pros. I don’t have that special hardware/software or the skills.”
My own content creation, like that of most people, is pretty much limited to home movies and family photos. I decided to to create a time lapse film. In all, I spent about an hour on it.
I jumped in with no instruction or prep, just a willingness to try, fail quickly, and learn. I didn’t consult an instruction manual or the many tips from subject matter experts.
I put a four-year old digital camera on a table. I aimed at a relatively still life subject, primarily to track the sun’s movement. I chose a swimming pool with surrounding trees, stared shooting at 10 AM and ended around 7:30 PM.
Ideally I would have shot every 10 minutes and used an alarm to remind me when to shoot. Life is what happens when you’re making other plans, so in reality, I shot every 15 minutes and lost about an hour at the critical sundown time, creating lurches in the end product.
I used CyberLink PowerDirector 5 (five generations behind the latest version of this software), moved the photos into movie mode, then shrank the duration each photo manually to .08 of a second. As you can see, my seven-second first effort is a kluge …
… but I learned from my fast fail how to do a better one. For instance:
- .08 second is a pretty good frame rate for each photo … assuming the photos themselves tell a smooth narrative, which means …
- … pick a time, say, every 10 minutes (I found out later a pro suggests every 10 seconds), and shoot consistently. Set an alarm if need be (and clear your calendar)
- Be sure your camera is indeed in a fixed spot. You don’t need to invest in a tripod, but be sure there’s no wobbling
- Cluster-select your photos and assign a common per-frame duration (vs. doing manually. NOTE: CyberLink PowerDirector 10 has a dedicated feature to create time lapse photography to really shave time here)
- Add some home made “music” … maybe as simple as drumming on a baking sheet
The point is, if I can do this without the latest tech (PC powered by a not-2nd-generation Intel Core i7 processor) , in less than an hour of actual work time, imagine what creativity you can unleash with a pinch more time, up-to-date tools (like the aforementioned CyberLink PowerDirector 10 and a PC with a 3rd Generation Intel Core Processor), and referring to some tips by the pros and software instructional videos.
Maybe you can even submit your time-lapse film in the Momentary Lapse contest, or just amuse yourself, friends and family.