Here are 5 lesser known timelapse tips to shoot better footage.
I made this list a while back for my newsletter subscribers. You can join in on the fun and subscribe at the bottom of this page.
I use all 5 of these timelapse tips on every single shoot I do, and they're among the first few things I teach to any of my students.
1. Use filters
In cinematography you'll hear people talk about the 180 degree rule.
It's a rule that tells you which shutter speed to use depending on your frame rate. The basic idea is that your shutter speed should be half the length of your shooting interval.
This results in the most cinematic looking footage with the right amount of motion blur.
Apply this to timelapse: When shooting at a 4 second interval you'll want a 2 second exposure. Most lenses will need to be ‘stopped down' for that but can't stop down far enough (make a very tiny hole with your aperture to let through less light to extend your shutter speed).
The solution here is simple: use an ND filter (basically sun shades for your lens).
Now what if I told you that there are ND filters that make your footage look EVEN BETTER than other filters? I use a combined Circular Polariser and ND filter.
The polariser aspect of the filter makes the footage more contrasted and saturated and removes glare and haze depending on when and where you're shooting.
This is the filter I use and recommend to get better looking footage straight out of camera: PolarPro CPND filter. (make sure to get the right filter thread size)
If you're looking for a very cheap ND filter check out the ICE ND1000 filter.
2. Use the correct interval
I get this question a few times a week so I figured it might be useful to include in this list of timelapse tips.
As a general interval guideline you can use the following intervals:
- People @ 1 second interval
- Traffic @ 2 second interval
- Clouds @ 3 second interval
- Sunset/Sunrise aka holy grail @ minimum 6 second interval
In the end you're better to shoot too fast than too slow because it is easier to speed up footage than it is to slow down.
Check out the LRTimelapse Pro Timer 2.5 if you want a very advanced timelapse remote that allows you to customise your intervals down to 0.1 seconds. It also allows you to ramp your interval up or down as you're shooting!
3. Shoot in RAW
This one might seem incredibly straightforward for the more experienced shooter.
That being said, you'd be surprised at how many people shy away from shooting RAW due to the larger file size.
The latitude in dynamic range that you get from RAW files drastically outweighs the negative side of the file size.
Storage is cheap these days and you will probably want to revisit your first few timelapses at some point in the future so do me a favour and start shooting RAW photos if you haven't already!
This is the storage I use to edit on. They're super fast, light weight and can take a beating.
4. Get a high quality tripod and ballhead (and memory card, and battery)
This advice applies to your memory card and batteries and the rest of your gear in general.
Higher quality gear means less time wasting in post production.
A cheap, wobbly tripod means you will have to spend minutes or hours stabilising your timelapse sequences.
A cheap battery might malfunction and ruin your gorgeous sunset shoot.
A cheap (possibly knockoff) memory card might corrupt the photos during your data transfer and you'll lose what is possibly one of your favourite sequences ever! (an actual nightmare)
5. Turn off (lens) image stabilisation
Lens or image stabilisation is great. It reduces motion or shake and gives you sharper photos… when your camera is handheld!
When your camera is on a tripod most stabilisation mechanisms will actually be actively ‘hunting' (moving around) for motion that it's trying to stabilise.
The result is a messy, jerky and jittery timelapse sequence.
This is also the culprit for a lot of people that are frustrated with blurry long exposure photos.
If I had a dollar for every time I've helped someone out in the field when I noticed they had their IS turned on I'd probably have like 20 or maybe 30 dollars right now (this is a wild guess I'm actually really unsure of how often this has happened to me).
That will be all for today, I hope you found these timelapse tips useful.
If you'd like to learn more about timelapse photography you might like these two books that I've written. They contain all my knowledge from the past 8 or so years as a professional timelapse photographer. You can buy them here: https://matjoez.com/store