Kevin E. Patterson

60 Minutes to DIY Digital Content: A Momentary (Time) Lapse

I'm not an enthusiast digital content creator, but I play one in this blog

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.”

Think again.

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:

  1. .08 second is a pretty good frame rate for each photo … assuming the photos themselves tell a smooth narrative, which means …
  2. … 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)
  3. 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
  4. 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)
  5. Add some home made “music” … maybe as simple as drumming on a baking sheet

momentary lapse
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.

Happy creating.


Check out the Momentary Lapse program, which runs to November 6, 2012.  $50,000 in prizes and the chance to be featured in an official Intel online ad, official rules can be found here.




Kevin E. Patterson

About Kevin E. Patterson

Kevin is a consumer campaign manager in Intel Americas, creating integrated marketing programs for technologies beyond the PC and for techsetter audiences. His campaigns have included broadcast TV, digital signage, and online media. In his 12 years with Intel he has been an enterprise campaign manager, founding an IT community with members in over 160 countries. That community is now known as the Intel IT Center, which earned him an Intel Marketing Excellence Award. He also co-created/piloted a measurement for online advertising which earned a 2011 ARF Ogilvy Award, also now deployed globally. Previously, he worked at marketing agencies for clients such as The World Bank, Lexus, GE, and Ford. He has a Master's Degree in English Lit and is a comic book geek.

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