On Shooting Time Lapses

Last weekend I shot some time lapses for a short film I’m planning. They were shot on several locations in and around the house with the intention of showing slow moving shadows as the sun tracks across the sky.

I tried intervals of 5, 15 and 20 seconds between exposures. The 5 second interval resulted in very slow movement. This is of course very easy to speed up in post.

The 15 second interval was OK but I think I’ll try 12 or 13 seconds next time. I think that would be the perfect pace for visualizing the shadows move.

The 20 second interval resulted in movement which was too fast for my taste. Maybe it would have looked better if I had used a longer exposure time so there would be some motion blur. The movement would have looked more film like.

I was satisfied with the resulting footage but will improve on the following things:

  • Use longer exposure times (using a ND filter) so fluctuations in light intensity will have less effect and will not be visible as much as they are now. Another advantage of this is that there will be motion blur in the footage
  • Take more care composing the shots. As I will be cropping the footage for an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 it is very important to make sure the interesting stuff will actually be in the final frame
  • Take more shots of a scene. This will give more flexibility when editing the film. I now took about 250 shots (resulting in about 10 seconds of footage)
  • Make *REALLY* sure the lenses are clean!
  • Make sure the camera’s battery is fully charged so it will not fail you halfway into a shot…

Here are frame grabs of a couple of scenes. All shots were taken with a Nikon D300s in full manual mode with a Nikon AF 35-70mm f2.8 D lens.

ISO200, 48mm, f4.0, 1/500 sec frame grab time lapse



frame grab time lapseISO400, 40mm, f2.8, 1/6400 sec



frame grab time lapseISO200, 35mm, f22, 1/30 sec