Time-lapse videos: fun and easy to make (eventually ;) #edtech #uoltech #articulate

Time-lapse videos: fun and easy to make (eventually ;) #edtech #uoltech #articulate

For some time I’ve been using the Lego animations of Eddie Izzard’s stand-up pieces as a remedy to long, rubbish days (btw, you’ve got to watch the one about the Death Star, it’s hilarious – YouTube is your friend ;)). However, today I got interested again in the process of creating such a video, and guess what: I finally did it myself! It took me one hour to do a 30-second thing but that’s mainly because I didn’t know what I was doing really and had to find online tutorials, as well as create/find all my raw materials. Now I reckon I can do it in a third of the time if not less (he said, wondering if he’ll ever need to put his money where his mouth is… 😉

First of all, the result: Captain Smiley making lemonade (it’s been quite hot in England lately, you see, and the little dude couldn’t stand it anymore… 😉

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Secondly, the process:

  1. Think of a story: I just wanted to test things, so it didn’t bother me that my story was silly 🙂
  2. Find a stage/set: my desk was good enough for this
  3. Get props: did that, too
  4. Get camera and fix in place (well, I couldn’t wait to get home, take my Nikon and put it on a tripod, then use the Nikon remote to take the stills so that the camera doesn’t shake or change position, which is what I would do in a proper project – on Friday, to be more precise; instead, I got some bluetack, sat my phone on top of it and just got on with it; it was reasonably stable)
  5. Get cleaning products (I don’t really advise using the bluetack method, but if you do, beware that there’ll be lots of rubbish left on your camera/phone; I found out too late… ah, well, the sacrifices I make…
  6. Move characters slightly and take a picture following each move (I have 63 images for a 30-second clip and I think normally I would have taken at least 150 to make the action smoother – although, having said that, it’s not too bad as it is ;).
  7. If your script has pauses in it, take several shots without moving the characters (it saves you trying to find that exact frame when editing the final product, duplicating frames, etc… too messy for me, so just take extra shots, it doesn’t cost you anything)
  8. Transfer images to computer and see about resizing – when I thought the only way was to import each image individually and then glue them together in the timeline, I had to resize my high-res ones down to 1440X1080 because I couldn’t find an easy way for Premiere to display them fully (I’m sure there is, I just didn’t have the time). So, because I already have SnagIt on my machine, I used this Batch Conversion how-to in order to do it.
    EDIT: while playing with this more, I have found the easy way (on my own, too, wehey!) You don’t actually need to resize the images in advance – see the other edit below at point 9 (I left the batch resize method in this post nonetheless in case you need it for something else).
  9. Assemble images in editing programme – I used Adobe Premiere and thanks to Jeff Pulera’s help in this post, it was a doddle to import all the stills as a video with each still representing one frame (before doing this, I’d done a manual resizing of the time for each image followed by a ripple delete because Premiere didn’t allow me to set the timing for each image to less than 2 seconds – and I wanted more like 0.2 seconds… Not fun at all for 10 out of the total 63 images, let alone several hundreds!)
    EDIT: If you are importing each image individually, then you need to resize them beforehand so they fit into your project size. But why would you want to go through that amount of manual labour? You can simply import all of them as one video using Jeff’s method and Premiere will do the resizing for you. Nice one!
  10. Re-adjust the speed of the video. My 63 images were imported into a 2-second video (at 30fps). My audio track was longer, and in any case the action was way too fast at that rate. One solution I have found has been to use this time remapping technique to slow down the video. I am guessing the video could be split into several videos, each with its own time remapping settings if you need to synchronise it better to a longer audio file.
  11. Publish. I initially published at 256kbps and the result was pretty grainy. The version you are seeing above is a 1mbps-.wmv file uploaded to good old YouTube (btw, thanks, guys, for hosting it)
  12. Review and improve (or scratch your head and raise your shoulders thinking that, after all, ‘good enough’ is what you’re after rather than ‘perfect’).
    a. Now, as you can see in the video above, it looks like Premiere has also added its own fade transitions between the frames when I imported the 63 stills as one video with one still representing one frame (remember: in Premiere: File / Import, browse to your sequence of images and select the first image, then check the Numbered Stills box at the bottom of the window and click on Open). I still need to look into this transition business (or, to put it better, I could look into it). Alternatively, it may be worth taking a lot more shots combined to making a lot more tiny changes to the characters’ position – that may be a lot closer to what Wallace and Gromit or my all-time favourite Shaun the Sheep look like 😉
    b. My phone camera, while competent, has got the lighting a little bit oddly a few times, so you may want to apply some colour correction (or just make everything black and white if you’re lazy or artistic 🙂

Well, that’s it, folks. Hope this helps, many thanks to all the good people whose blogs I came across to be able to do this, and I highly recommend it for a laugh – it’s brilliant fun!!!