Tutorial: how to do a time-lapse video with the Nikon V1

As part of my review of the Nikon V1, I wanted to check out the interval timer function which is perfectly suited for creating time-lapse videos. So here is a simple one that I took today.

Software that you will need:

  1. In case you shoot RAW some RAW-converter to create JPG files (such as Lightroom or Aperture)
    One of the questions is whether you want to shoot RAW or JPG for the files. Some people will tell you basic jpg to save space and this is definitely true for long sequences. For short ones however, I recommend RAW because you can simply adjust more things without deteriorating the images. The one above was shot in RAW and then converted to JPG with Lightroom.
  2. Time Lapse Assembler for Mac or Apple Quicktime 7 Pro (Win/Mac) for creating a movie from the picture sequence
    Once you have created the sequences of pictures you will have to stitch them together to a movie. I used the free tool Time Lapse Assembler which is fast and did a great job. For post-production you can also later reopen the video in, say, iMovie to add captions, music, etc.

Hardware that you will need:

  1. Tripod
  2. Large SD card (at least 16GB, preferable larger)

How to shoot/create the time-lapse video:

I will keep the necessary steps as brief as possible. This will be a Bruce Lee style tutorial: “Take what is useful, discard what is useless, and add something to make it unique.” There are different ways to do the same thing – this is one out of many.

The shooting part:

  1. Mount camera on tripod and choose position/zoom
    You want a steady image – shake is bad.
  2. Switch Exposure Program to Manual and adjust exposure
    You do not want to use any of the automatic modes because they might change exposure between frames, especially if the light conditions are changing. Also set white balance to an appropriate but fixed value if you shoot jpeg. If you shoot RAW, it does not really matter and you can adjust white balance in post-production – that’s what I did.
  3. Focus by half-pressing the shutter button. Now switch to manual focus.
    This ensures that the focus is the same for the full sequence that you will be shooting.
  4. Set the interval shooting timer. Set the camera to take a shot every 5 seconds and choose a large number of shots to be taken.
    For the one above I took 250 – you might want to take more.

The post-production part:

  1. (you can skip this step if you shot the sequence in jpg) Import the files into your favorite RAW converter and adjust for white balance, exposure, etc. Apply the same changes to the full sequence to keep the sequence smooth, or exactly know what you are doing!
    I adjusted the white balance to be slighter warmer.
  2. Export the files as jpgs with width 1280 and height proportionally.
  3. Open the sequence in your time-lapse assembler and generate the movie.
    I used Time Lapse Assembler with its standard settings and a frame rate of 15 frames per second.

That’s it.

Links and related tutorials

  1. http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/how-to-make-time-lapse-video-ultimate-guide/
  2. http://www.pixiq.com/article/how-to-do-timelapse-photography
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