Timelapses can turn a mundane event into a dynamic, visually intriguing video. But getting all your settings right and combining photos to create a timelapse on a computer can be complicated and technically intimidating. Here are three techniques you can utilize right in your camera to easily create your own timelapse videos just in time for the holidays.
1. DIORAMA MODE
I use this feature a lot because of the ease of use, and because it just looks cool. The Diorama art filter comes natively installed in almost all Olympus cameras. This filter is designed to simulate an effect that is called “Tilt Shift” photography or “Tiltshift Timelapse." This is an effect that blurs out part of the screen and leaves some of the image in focus creating a dynamic that makes things appear to be miniature in scale. This diorama effect will record video images every few seconds and then put those together into a sped-up timelapse video with instagram-like blur effect - all without you having to program any settings.
STEPS TO SHOOT A DIORAMA VIDEO
- Switch camera to Art filter mode or rotate camera dial to art modes.
- Select “Diorama1” or “Diorama2” mode from the list of art filters. Diorama 1” and Dioramo 2 mode are the same with the only difference being that the blur matte is either set to Horizontal in “Diorama1” or vertical in “Diorama2” choose whichever makes sense based on your photo composition.
- Set the exposure compensation to a proper exposure.
- Once you are in the mode and ready to shoot you can notice the blur matte on the screen previewing the effect if you want the position of this blur to change location just tap on the touch screen where you would like the focus to be and it will blur out the other sections highlighting that area.
- Mount on a stable tripod with all intended action of the scene in view, lock off tripod. and hit the red video record button. (If you don't have a tripod, you can perch your camera on a stable shelf or table as long as people will not bumping into or moving it while recording.)
- Hit the red record button again to stop the recording. The video will start to record and you should see recording prompt on the screen with the timecode recording as the video progresses. If you see the red record timer, but it does not appear to be clocking time, that is okay. Give it a few seconds and you will. This is because it is recording less frames than normal to create the time lapse effect with time speeding up. That means you can record for 1 minute and the recorded video clip will only end up being 10 seconds long. It takes everything you recorded and compresses 1 minute of activity into 10 seconds of video, so that when you play back the video everything will appear to be in fast motion.
- Play back your time lapse video and enjoy!
IDEAS FOR DIORAMA MODE TIMELAPSES
Scenes that work well for timelapse videos include clouds, moving crowds of people, cars and traffic, boats, and airports.
During the holiday season, you'll also be presented with some fun, family themed opportunities for timelapses. You could do a timelapse of the family eating dinner, unwrapping presents, decorating the Christmas tree, and baking. Sledding and holiday parades also make good timelapse videos.
SHARE YOUR TIMELAPSE
Don't forget to share your timelapse videos with friends and family. Use the OI Share App to easily transfer your final timelapse to your phone or tablet — then upload it to Facebook or send it via email.
2. USING THE BUILT-IN INTERVELOMETER
This method is the classic tried and true method of capturing the perfect timelapse videos from a compilation of HI-res photographs, while allowing the most customization. Unlike most cameras where you might need to purchase an external tethered intervalometer, Olympus has conveniently placed an intervelometer straight inside their cameras. In this case it is a software based interface that allows you to set your parameters for your timelapse such as numbers of frames, interval length, start time, and more. In turn this allows much more control over the final result of your timelapse movie.
HOW TO SET UP AN INTERVELOMETER BASED TIMELAPSE MOVIE
- Set your camera position up on a stable tripod (very important) pointing in a direction that will capture all the action of your whole sequence start to finish. Because once you start the camera you can't change it without ruining your timelapse.
- Set your dial to P/S/A/M. I prefer full Manual to have full control but you can use any of those modes. Shutter priority is a good choice as well to get that shutter drag effect.
- Set photographs parameters - such as Shutter, WB, ISO, focus, etc. A common timelapse trick is to drag your shutter a little, like shooting at a 1/15th sec. This creates a slight ghosting effect on moving subjects in the images which would normally be avoided if just shooting a photograph by itself but for the timelapse this method will help smooth out the images a lot more removing that jerky nature to a timelapse. I usually set a manual focus to what the action is, so the camera won't search for a focus point and make random blurry shots if something in the frame moves to close to camera. This is especially important in darker environments where camera has a hard time with autofocusing in the dark.
- Do a test shot, (very important before you start) try out your settings and make sure this is the image result you want before you start your timelapse. You don’t want to start a 1 hr timelapse to come back later and realize you were out of focus the whole time and underexposed.
- Open camera menu and navigate to bottom of Menu 1 there is a symbol for timer and timelapse with an image of several overlapping images. Click right arrow.
- Navigate down to “Interval.SH./Timelapse. Toggle right / toggle down to select “On”/ toggle right to go into options.
- Select number of frames, you can select from 1 frame to 999. This will determine the final length of your timelapse, also how long you will be shooting for. Keep in mind card space as well. We will choose 300 frames as an example. If you want to have a 10 second long final movie clip, you have to do a little math. Generally, video plays at 30 frames per second, so if you want your final movie clip to play for 10 seconds then you will need to shoot at least 300 frames to have your timelapse be 10 seconds long.
- Select start time, we will set this to 3 seconds just to let camera settle after hitting the shutter button. Note: This only applies to the first shot in the timelapse.
- Select an Interval length: How often will the picture get taken, or the delay between each photo. This is what regulates the speed of your final timelapse. So say we're shooting the accumulation of falling snow out the window so let’s set this to 30 sec. The combination of the interval length and number of frames will be the overall length of time the time the timelapse can capture an action so take into consideration before you start how long is this event going to last and how long must I shoot to cover the action I need and use that info to reverse engineer those numbers to the proper values.
- Select timelapse movie to “ON” and Select timelapse movie option. This is what the camera is going to compile for you in camera after your time lapse sequence is done shooting the photographs. You can select 4k video, Full HD (FHD), High definition (HD), and the frame rate - which is the playback frame rates. This file will be a compressed .AVI file that has the aspect ratio of whatever you have selected before entering into Time Lapse mode. This is usually set to 4:3, but ideally you want to change that to 16:9 before you begin your timelapse if you plan to only share the .avi file and not do any post editing. If you want more flexibility in post, stick with 4:3.
- Once you have chosen all those options you hit the “left button to go back in the menu and select the ON then hit the shutter button to get back to photo mode. At this point you should see a number at the top of your screen with the number of images you previously choose. In our case it was 300. If you see this it is ready to shoot. Check focus and hit the shutter button to begin. If you don’t go back into menu and make sure you select on in the Timelapse function menu hit ok and then the shutter button to get back to shooting. If for whatever reason you need to cancel the time lapse before it completes, all you have to do is hit the menu button. The time lapse will terminate and compile whatever images you took up to this point. It will have a screen saying “Busy” and you should see a progress bar once that completes you can play back your timelapse from the play menu.
- You have two options for your timelapse. You should have your photos on your SD card either as jpeg or raw files. You can take those photos batch edit them in your favorite editing software – such as Lightroom or Olympus Viewer etc. – compile them and then export a hi-res video file. The second option is to use the pre compiled .AVI movie file that the camera put together for you. You can then share it however you’d like.
EXAMPLES OF TIMELAPSE INTERVAL SETTINGS
1 SECOND: Fast moving traffic, fast moving cloud, driving timelapses
1-3 SECONDS: Sunsets and sunrises, slowly moving clouds, crows, telephoto scenes
15-30 SECONDS: Moving shadows, falling snow
15-60 SECONDS: Stars and astrophotography
5-15 MINUTES: Construction
3. VARIABLE FRAME RATE RECORDING
We now know how to speed up time - but what about slowing it down? This method allows fast motion and slow motion recording.When shooting normal video, you would usually be filming at 24 frames per second (24p cinema mode) or 30 frames per second (30p). When you shoot slow motion you need extra frames so that when you slow it down the images don’t become all choppy like a strobe light. A general video production standard for this is 60 frames per second or 60p. Think of a flip book animation with 10 pages of a stick figure walking vs. the same animation drawn over 60 pages. The one with 60 you can flip slower and the action looks smoother as the one with 10 is over very fast and stutters, because there are fewer frames.
There are two ways to shoot this:
- Record natively at 60p. The camera will record at that frame rate to the video file, however, the file will not playback in slow motion until you manipulate it and slow it down in your editing software (by playing it back at a slower frame rate like 24p or 30p). This function is generally reserved for more professional productions.
- The second option is to record at 60p, but set the camera to write the file to the your card at a lower frame rate - like 24p or 30p. That way, when you play the video back in the camera it is already playing back in slow motion and ready to share. With this method, there is no need for using external software or computer, however you lose some flexaibility. See below for the settings necessary to shoot using this technique.
HOW TO SHOOT SLOW MOTION
- Turn dial on top of camera to the cinema camera mode or label.
- Hit the OK button to open video options. If you are in SCP (super control panel), select the little movie camera option near the bottom right corner It will read "FHDSF30p" Select that by hitting OK.
- If you are not in SCP mode, the menu will look like menu options along right side of screen running vertically.
- Navigate to the right and choose the selection to the left of the HD option. Hit the INFO button to change parameters
- Navigate left and right, up, & down in each box to select your settings. We want the setting to be one of the following for fast motion or slow motion. (FHD/Superfine/30p/OFF/10x) for sped-up version of ultra smooth timelapses. You can also shoot in 4k. See example (Traffic at 10x Speed).
- You can also use (FHD/Superfine/30p/OFF/x0.5) for in camera playback slow motion recording. 4k is not available for slow-motion only FHD. See example (Cooking Pecans Timelapse).
- Then adjust your exposure settings and hit the red video record button.
- Hit the red record button again to seize recording and save file to card.
- Hit the play button to review your file. Playback should occur in slow motion.
Note: Whenever you come back to this video setting, it will continue to record in this way. To record another video, simply choose that selection later and it will be ready to go. Keep in mind if you want to shoot regular video you will have to change it back.
ABOUT AUSTIN LOTTIMER
Austin Lottimer first caught the attention of Olympus when he and his brother, Maitland Lottimer, won the Olympus PEN Your Short 48 Hour Film Contest at the 2011 Vail Film Festival by shooting their entire award-winning film “Running Colors” with the Olympus PEN E-PL2 camera.