What does Time-Lapse photography/video mean?
Time-lapse photography/video is a unique photography and film recording technique, consisting of a series static photos, which creates the final accelerated motion video record. This method has been known since 1897.
To understand this technique, we need to have a look on a basic element of each video - photo (image). Each video or a film consists of an individual consecutive static photos. One second of an image usually consists of 24, 25, 30 or more frames, tagged as fps (frames per second). Using the time-lapse technique we can create the final video exactly from these individual images - photos.
In practice it means, that time-lapse video is a sequence of consecutive photos, taken in the exact intervals, which are later in the post-production process joined together into a final video. Time-lapse method also allow us to use all the advantages of DSLR photography (compared to videorecording) and project it into a final high-quality time-lapse video. Practically, every picture we take, we can convert into a video. There are a lot of shoots not possible to record, because filming cameras are not built up for it. (For example night sky, dark scenes, etc.)
This bring us a huge opportunity of post-production, image quality, high resolution, high dynamic range, long exposure, etc.
Time-lapse method is very difficult in regards to time completion. Often is requried to take many hours of photo shoots just for a few seconds of a final time-lapse video. Needless to say, that after that there is also a need of post-production process in the studio.
This method still rapidly expands and with the new experience, there are new possibilities too. Time-lapse method contents many special procedures and tricks to achieve the best possible results of a video quality.
Time-lapse method allow us to use all the advantages of a digital DSLR photography. This includes shoots into RAW format. Every serious creation certainly includes photo shooting in this format.
RAW is a digital format, which saves all the information of photography intacted, exactly how camera shooted it without any other compression. RAW format is predeterminet for the most effective post-production process in Studio.
HDR RAW sequence
Development of time-lapse technology have also brought us addition of high dynamic range of shooting. Today’s DSLR cameras are not able to shoot photos with the same high dynamic range as we can see with our human eye. Therefore they may loose a lot of details, which can get lost in bright or a dark tones of color. HDR (High Dynamic Range) method compensates the loss of details and light intensity, because it shoots more photos on different exposure values. After that with post-production process and connection creates the photo of wider extensity and tone color.
In practice it means, that each image consists of 3 photos shooted with different exposure values (first picture takes dark tones, second middle tones, and third bright tones of colors). By using this method we can achieve the visual image, similar to the one, we can see with our human eye. There is also a possibility to go further and increase the dynamic range into unrealistic values, however, that might not look good for us.
Time-lapse HDR method is also notably demanding on a computer hard drive capacity, as it creates huge quantity of data. Let’s take a further look on an example for 5 minutes time-lapse video with 25fps. This video is going to consists of 7500 RAW photos (when using HDR shooting three times more, which means 22500 RAW photos) and it’s total post production process and editing will take approximately 360 GB data on our hard drive (when using HDR shooting even 1,1 TB data).
Motion Control (movement and turning of camera during the shooting)
The next part of a time-lapse creations is the equipment, which allow us controlled and smart, programmed movement in one, two, or in all three axis. It is a motoric time-lapse "motion control" equipment, mainly camera track (dolly) and panoramatic heads (one, or two axial). Alongside with them we use program, which allow us to control all movements together, as well as synchronization with the camera shutter. Thanks to this equipment, there is a possibility to achieve a time-lapse video, when for example a camera moves forward of a length 2m, and the head during the shooting turns by over 35° horizontally and 15° vertically.
This controlled motion brings a new dimension into a time-lapse creations. Motion control in time lapse creation creates ilusion, that the camera moves normally, whilst the action on video is acellerated. Thanks to this fact, viewers never get bored, not even during the longer video-sequences. Motion control was for a first time introduced in the movie Baraka (1992).
This controlled motion is possible to direct from a few millimiters (for macro-photography) up to hundreds of meters (from vehicles). These extremely long movements open a new section, called hyper-lapse. Hyper-lapse is about of tenths up to hundreds of meters movements, mostly shooted from a motor vehicles, or special made buggys for hyper lapse. We can use this method everywhere on the ground, where we can access adaptive straight areas (pavements, roads, squares, etc.). We can also shoot hyper-lapse from the air whilst using multicopter, helicpoter, aeroplane, etc.
Advantages of TIME-LAPSE videos:
• high image quality
• creation of uncompressed video/movie in a high resolution 5,6K
• possibility of a high dynamic range (HDR)
• dominates in bad lighting conditions and during the night (it is the only one option how to shoot the night sky movement as well as dark
scenes, where we cannot use filming cameras)
• accelerated movement shows unnoticable things to human eye
• motion blur (control of movement blurring thanks to complete handling of time exposure)
• motion control equipment creates movement, where our viewers will not get bored during the longer video-sequences
• huge opportunity of post-production process
• limitless possibilietes of use