In the first section of my two part series, I detailed how to shoot time-lapse photography for video. In this last part, I will talk a bit about the editing portion.
Here, I’ll describe a method for removing flicker, which is an issue I talked about in the previous post, using Lightroom and encoding your footage in QuickTime Pro on a Windows PC. There are more advanced methods that require more complicated (and expensive) software but give more control over the editing process. However, the method I describe is a good way to get your feet wet. If you would like to learn something more advanced, subscribe to my Patreon feed for $10 a month and get access to a tutorial where I follow the method described here and another involving Adobe Lightroom, LRTimelapse and Adobe After Effects.
Again here is a comparison of different methods.
Now let’s get into it! You should already have your sequence shot and ready as described in the previous post.
First, import your RAW files as you normally would into Lightroom.
Next, go to the Library module and from the menu Edit -> Select All.
Hover the mouse over one of the selected photos in the Library Module, right click and go to Develop Settings -> Autosettings. This will cause Lightroom to apply exposure settings to each photo in a way that creates a balanced histogram. Flicker is introduced into time-lapse because of slight exposure variations between each shot. Although, it’s far from perfect, using the Autotone feature is a quick and dirty way to remove flicker from the sequence. It also does not allow for ramping and fine tuning of exposure settings such as white balance, highlights, etc. For a more complete deflicker solution, a more advanced software like LRTimelapse is required.
Next, we need to crop our images to fit the 16:9 ratio used in HD video. Press CTRL + d to deselect the images and click on the “Develop” module at the top. Select the first image in the sequence, then select the “Crop Overlay” tool located in the upper right, below the histogram. Click on the Aspect Ratio drop down box and select “16×9 1920×1080.”
Now, select the crop that you want for the sequence. This will likely cut off some of the top and bottom of the image, so you have to decide what areas will be lost in the final video. When you have the desired crop, click the Crop Overlay tool again to deselect it. With the first image still selected, right click on it in the bottom panel and go to Develop Settings -> Copy Settings. With the Copy Settings dialogue open, select “Check none,” then put a check mark in the “Crop” and “Process Version” boxes, select “Okay.”
Now, to apply the crop settings to all the photos. Go back to the library module. Edit -> Select All. Hover the mouse over any of the selected photos, right click and go to Develop Settings -> Paste. This will apply only the crop settings and will not carry over the exposure settings. We don’t want all of the exposure settings to be the same across the board because autotone will make them all different.
After autotone and cropping have been applied to all images in the sequence, export them as JPEG’s to an empty folder. Here are the settings to use for 1080p video. Output sharpening is up to the individual, but you can also apply sharpening settings to the photos in the develop module and apply them across the board as we did with the crop settings.
Now we can encode the video. Open QuickTime Pro. In the menu select File -> Open Image Sequence. Navigate to the folder where the JPEG’s were exported, select the desired frame rate in the drop-down menu (I use 24fps), select the first JPEG in the sequence and click ‘Okay.’ It should have loaded the sequence as a video, however you won’t be able to play it yet unless, perhaps, you have a beastly video card.
At this point you can add music if you would like. If not, you can skip this part.
A quick word about selecting music for video projects. Always use music that isn’t copyrighted or has a creative commons license, which means you can use the artists’ music for free (usually for non-commercial use only) but must provide credit. My go to’s are http://www.freemusicarchive.org and http://www.incompetech.com.
The music will have to be cut down to the length of the clip, so if you have a 3 minute mp3 file and a 10 second time-lapse project, you will need to cut 10 seconds of audio from the file. A quick and easy way to do this is to use this website: https://mp3cut.net/. I find cutting the clips in QuickTime to be a bit cumbersome and mp3cut allows you to fade in and out of the clip, creating a smooth transition for the cuts.
With the MP3 file cut to the length of the time-lapse video, and with the image sequence loaded into QuickTime, go to File -> Open File. There is a drop-down menu here in the lower right corner, select “Audio Files,” navigate to the MP3 file, select it and click “Okay.” In the player that pops up, go to Edit -> Select All, then Edit -> Copy. Bring up the window with the image sequence, go to Edit -> Add to Movie.
You can proceed to encode the video. Go to File -> Export. Select these settings in the dialogue box, then click options.
In the options dialogue, make sure the Video and Sound boxes are selected (if you didn’t use sound, don’t worry about this one). Under Video, click the Settings button. Match the settings I’ve used in the screenshot below. The best compression type to use is H.264 because it’s compatible across most platforms and should not give any issues when uploading to Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube. If you don’t have H.264 listed as an option, it means you don’t have the H.264 codec installed on your computer. It comes free with DIVX and you can find it here: http://www.divx.com/en/software/technologies/h264. Click “Okay” once you have input the settings and now click the “Size” button, again under Video. Make sure “1920 x 1080 HD” is selected, all other boxes should be unchecked. Click “Okay.”
If you selected audio, click the “Settings” button under Audio and match the settings I have here in the screen shot, then click “okay.”
Your final settings should look like these.
Finally, select “Okay” and return to the save dialogue. From here, simply name and save the movie file. QuickTime will compile the footage and the video will be ready to play!
If this did not work, then you may need to try different Video settings when exporting from QuickTime. I am not 100% certain that installing DIVX will give you the H.264 options that I have and everyone is bound to have different codecs installed on their computer making the path a little more complicated.
That does it for making a time-lapse video sequence from still images using Lightroom and QuickTime Pro! If you want more power over the editing process, the ability to encode in 2k, 4k and 6k, and more powerful deflicker capabilities – the next step will be incorporating LRTimelapse, Lightroom, Adobe After Effects and/or Adobe Premier Pro. This method has far too much depth to cover in a blog post and the creator of LRTimelapse does a much better job than I ever could explaining how to use his program. So, give the LRTimelapse free version a try before purchasing the full version and check out the tutorials on his website.
You can also watch me process a sequence from beginning to end using both the method I described here and using LRTimelapse as well. This is available only to $10 and up subscribers to my Patreon. Consider becoming a patron for access to that and other monthly photography processing videos, or simply become a $1 a month subscriber if you wish to support my work!