How To Create A Time lapse Using A Slider In 4 Easy Steps
Here’s a quick guide on how to create a time-lapse video using a slider and a panning motor. But first, let’s see in the following short video what can be achieved with a motorized slider and a good camera.
Step 1: Equipment
- A DSLR or mirrorless camera (also called Evil). These cameras with manual settings allow you to modify features such as the exposure time and the aperture. This allows for greater creativity as you can control the blur effect or the exposure time, useful when shooting a sunset, for example.
- In the absence of a DSLR camera, we can also use an iPhone or a GoPro, in which case we’ll need a good time-lapse app. The advantages of using an app include saving time in post and the ability to share your output quickly and easily. This method is not as versatile as using a DSLR camera, but it’s much faster.
- A motorized slider. We need this to be able to move, stop and start moving again very precisely. This is key for videos with long exposure times. The best types are stepper motors, which offer greater precision. Make sure the one you use also has a built-in interval meter, in order for the camera to shoot automatically at each interval.
- A panning motor. The idea is to add another smooth movement to give the time-lapse a more fluid feel; just like the slider, we need the motor to be able to turn-stop-turn.
- Tripods. If you don’t want to place it level with the ground, you’ll need a pair of tripods to give it stability.
- An extra battery for the camera. If you find yourself quickly running out of battery, you have two options. You can either buy a handgrip and place two batteries in it, or you can buy a dummy battery and hook it up to a high-capacity USB battery. The batteries in Reflex or DSLR cameras usually hold up well, it’s the EVIL or mirrorless cameras that often have issues with battery duration. Once you hook the battery up to a power bank you’ll be fine.
Step 2: Location
The most impressive time-lapses are usually those filmed in an idyllic landscape. Here are some things to think about when location scouting, although traveling and discovering by yourself is generally the best option:
- I recommend avoiding plants that move with the wind in the foreground. When composing the time-lapse it’ll look like they’re vibrating and chances are it won’t look good.
- When moving the slider you should be giving the viewer a sense of movement: the best way to do this is to film a close-up of an object against a background.
- Look for locations whose elements usually move slowly and think about whether it would be interesting for the viewer to see those movements at high speed. Common locations and elements include clouds, the movements of boats, stars, people moving, traffic lights and cars, etc. Be creative and try to have good taste!
- If you’re going for a night time-lapse, you’ll need a clear sky and very low light pollution. Here’s a global light pollution map.
- Google Maps is your friend. Creating a time-lapse requires a lot of time: plan exactly where you’re going, where you’ll sleep and how much weight you’ll carry (our slider is very light, as it’s made of aluminum).
Step 3: Execution
Once you’ve found a frame you’re happy with:
- Take an initial photo in Manual Mode and configure all the settings exactly as you want them to be: exposure time, aperture, ISO, etc. If there are people in the frame, I recommend adding about 2 seconds of exposure time to blur them. Remember that for everything to be in focus, you need to set the hyperfocal distance. Once you’ve done this, place the lens in Manual Focus.
- Fix the motorized slider with tripods or add non-slip rubber feet to it and put weight on the sides, to ensure stability on the ground.
- Plug the trigger cable and set the slider controller to “Time-lapse Mode”.Let’s set the time-lapse up with our own Harrope slider, as you can see in the following video.
Step 4: Post-production
This last step is where your viewers will really see the difference between an OK job and a job well done.
I recommend creating various time-lapses – find a soundtrack that inspires you and mix the different time-lapses together.
The editing app I recommend for time-lapses is Premiere. If your time-lapse contains light changes (intermittent clouds, dawn, dusk, etc.), you’ll also need an app that smoothes out all the changes automatically, avoiding the annoying flicker effect. A great app that does this is LRtimelapse. Here are some video tutorials that explain how to use these apps: