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How to: Shoot and Edit a Time-Lapse Video

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We see it all the time.  The passing of the night sky in an episode of "Survivor".  The quick steps of pedestrians making their way through a crowded street corner.  I've been asked by a few poeple about shooting Time-Lapse video, and just for the record I'm no expert but I can tell you how I shot and edited this video.  

First, I wanted to film something that had an ending.  It doesn't have to have an ending but I find it more interesting.  So I threw some birthday candles in a skinny cow ice cream sandwich.  With the knowledge that both the candles and ice cream sandwich would eventually melt and thus, giving me an ending.  I mounted my Panasonic DVX100B camera onto a tripod and set up my shot against some tile in my kitchen. You want your shot to be as still as possible so I suggest either using a tri-pod or set your camera on a pile of books or something else flat. 

I lit the candles and then recorded the candles and ice cream melting in a normal speed.  It took roughly 30 minutes for both of them to melt. 

Almost all digital video cameras have the ability to do an interval recording.  And this is the most common way of shooting a Time-Lapse because who wants to sit at there camera for two days and watch a flower bloom while switching tapes and batteries.  You might record every 20-30 seconds and record up to 2-3 seconds of video each time.  I didn't need to do this for this piece because it was so short to begin with. 

I then imported the footage into Premiere Pro 2.0 because that is what I use to edit.  

I then brought my footage into the time-line.  Then I right clicked the clip I wanted to speed up and then I chose speed/duration...I then chose to speed up the footage by 7000 percent.  I tried many different numbers but this particular percentage seemed to have the best effect.

I then went to soundrangers.com and searched for a tune that set up the melodramatic vibe I was going for.   Once I found it, I then imported the MP3 into the video.  I then exported the entire movie and there you have it.  A thirty-seven second movie that tells a story.  Time-Lapse style. 

I've never shot a true time-lapse using a still camera, but Nic Fillingham is our resident digital camera expert so maybe he can give us a quick tip on how to do it. 

If you have any other tips or I missed something feel free to chime in. 

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  • Googleman81Googleman81

    amazing. i feel like i am back in my childhood watching sesame street...

    does harry potter approve of your using his music?

  • Matthew MushallMatthew Mushall

    Very cute.  It suddenly occurred to me that I forgot to chime in on your birthday.  Terribly Sorry, T-dub.  I wish you and Miss Foy a very belated Happy Birthday.  Anyway, this was very entertaining.  I'm a bit surprised that the whole thing took only 30 minutes to capture.  I would have thought the ice cream sandwich may have taken longer to melt.


    My Art in the Age of Electronic Media course just finished time compression and extension topic.  Some of us moved very slowly and sped up the footage to create the effect that the world moved very quickly around us while others conducted time laps segments of events that lasted for days.  A small portion of us, myself included, actually experimented with a conceptual approach of recording an event being recorded for an exact increment of time.  I opted to record my camera recording itself recording a time laps experiment for exactly 42 seconds.  Its not the most interest thing to watch, but its certainly a high concept.

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