Over the past 5 years, time lapses have become a popular storytelling tool. So much so, that the function is built into most modern cell phones. With the touch of a button, you can press record and your phone will do the rest of the work for you.
Say you’ve shot a couple of time lapses, and although they are pretty interesting, they’re not exactly as dynamic as what you’re seeing on Vimeo, Youtube, and television. No need to worry! Getting these amazing shots are not out of reach. Here are my tips on how to transition from smartphone time lapse to professional. Grab your DSLR.
1. Capture Movement
People, Traffic, Clouds, Stars. These are the most popular subjects to capture in time lapses. Why? Because they easily communicate the passage of time and are often very beautiful. Think about what you’re about to capture. Where can you place your camera to catch the most action in the scene? Are there times of the day where this scene is busier than others? More action is more interesting.
2. Lower your Shutter Speed
In photography, we love to use higher shutter speeds to capture crisp, clear photos. However, in time lapse, high shutter speeds will give your video a stuttering effect. Try slowing your shutter speed down to .5 and you’ll start seeing some motion blur. In the end, this will create streams of motion instead of stuttering subjects.
3. Pan and/or Slide
After you lock into these steps, there’s one more way to help hold your audience’s attention: adding motion to your frame with slides and pans. You don’t even need expensive equipment to get started. Effects like this are easily added in Premiere Pro or Final Cut.
Let’s say you have a 24mp camera — that’s a resolution of 6048 x 4032. Even if you’re creating a 4K time lapse, your image is still larger than the resolution of your video. This means that you can make your time lapse pan in, out, left or right in post. If you’re looking to get even more creative, check out the Syrp Genie and Syrp Genie Tracking Bundle. These tools can help you add elaborate pans or slides.
So there you have it! Now you’re off to add time-lapse photography to your storytelling toolkit. Have you shot any time-lapses lately? What’s your favorite subject to shoot? I’d love to see your work. Share a link in the comments below! You can take a look at our latest time-lapse film here.