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Time-lapse Photography - Turn Photos into Hyper-Fast Video
10108 25 2017-3-20 22:19:12
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Perhaps the most iconic shot employed by the modern vlogger is the time lapse. If you’ve ever seen a Casey Neistat video, you are familiar with this shot. Time-lapse shots are created by taking a series of photos at a given interval and combining the photos together to make a video. In or outside of a vlog, time lapses are effective in showing the passage of time and as establishing shots when changing location.

1.gif
Captured with the Phantom 3 Standard

The great thing about time lapses is that you don’t need a top-of-line drone to make them. You can make a good-looking time lapse with any Phantom 3, Phantom 4, Inspire or Mavic Pro.

Making a Time Lapse

First, choose a location where you want to shoot. Make sure the environment and weather conditions are suitable for flight, go through your preflight checklist, and take off. Fly around a bit and frame your shot just how you want it.

Using the Timed Shot feature in DJI GO is the most effective way to make time lapses. From the image transmission screen, tap the Camera Settings Button, tap “Photo”, and tap “Timed Shot”, then choose a time interval. To choose the lowest time interval possible, set your format to JPEG. For the Phantom 3 Standard, the lowest time interval when shooting JPEGs is 2s.

2.jpeg

Shooting time lapses in manual mode will ensure that you have consistent exposure across your photos. If you want to shoot in Auto, make sure to lock your exposure before you get started. Tap the “AE” button in the upper right corner and lock the lock icon. To get the best image quality possible image quality, ISO shouldn’t be larger than 200. Then set the shutter speed and exposure. Also, if you’re shooting at night, turn off your front arm LEDs.

Additionally, it’s best to choose a white balance setting other than Auto, otherwise the some of your photos may end up with an inconsistant color cast due to the white balance shifting automatically.

3.jpg

Start Shooting

Tap the Shutter Button on your controller or in the app and the aircraft will start capturing photos at the pre-set time interval. Keep a close eye on your aircraft during shooting, and don’t move the aircraft or change the gimbal’s angle unless there’s an emergency.

One photo will be used as one frame in a time lapse. The minimum number of frames needed to make a video play smoothly is either 24 or 25 frames per second, depending on whether you’re shooting in NTSC or PAL, respectively. If you want to make a 5-second video, you will need to capture either 120 or 125 photos. With a Timed Shot interval of 5 seconds, this takes around ten minutes.

4.png

After shooting is complete, land your aircraft.

Post-Production

Next, let’s create a time-lapse video from the pictures you’ve captured. We’ll use Adobe After Effects CC 2016 in this tutorial, but you can also use Photoshop CS6 or later.

Open Adobe After Effects CC 2016, create a composition, and click “File” > “Import” > “File” to select your photos.

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Select all the photos, select “JPEG Sequence”, and click “Import”. Then you can find your photos under “Project”. Drag the photos into the composition that you created.

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DJI aircraft don’t hover perfectly, so some photos will be framed differently than others. Though such movement is relatively small, jittering in the resulting time lapse may be noticeable. To stabilize the video, you can go to “Effect” > “Warp” > “Warp Stabilizer” and employ the Warp Stabilizer effect.

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If you want to do some color correction, adjust your color settings, render and output. Your video is now ready to share!

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Below are two time lapses we captured with the Phantom 3 Standard. The second one is a motion timelapse, which we'll be discussing in a future tutorial. Enjoy!

10.gif


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Thanks for reading everyone!

Now go make some time lapses of your own and share them with other DJI creators. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to contact us here on the DJI Forum or on social media. For more from DJI Support…

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2017-3-20 22:19:12
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jeebs-9
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Amazing!!! Thank You for this post!
2017-3-21 06:31:08
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JackA
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I am looking forward to more of these informative posts, thanks!
2017-3-21 07:04:34
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Heliflo
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Great tutorial! I've also already did some first attempts:
Dronelapse @night
Traffic at night

Feel also free to join our FB-Group about Dronelapse technique: Dronelapse community

Cheers Florian
2017-3-21 10:31:37
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Fruxen
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Hate to be "that guy" but... Really the only benefit of photo timelapses is that they take less space on the memory card than what the video would have done. But our drones can only be up for 20 minutes, and even when shooting 4k you still won't run out of space on the SD card. You don't have to assembly lots of files afterwards, the video is already done when you land.

Import it into your editing program and simply speed up the clip. Done!
And you get the major benefit of being able to adjust the speed of the timelapse to your liking. You can't do that with pre set photo timelapses
2017-3-21 14:11:20
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Cabansail
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What are the specs for intervals when shooting RAW?

Can see the advantage here by doing a batch process of RAW files and then making a much higher quality timelapse than the limitations of shooting Jpeg.
2017-3-21 14:35:53
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Heliflo
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Fruxen Posted at 2017-3-21 14:11
Hate to be "that guy" but... Really the only benefit of photo timelapses is that they take less space on the memory card than what the video would have done. But our drones can only be up for 20 minutes, and even when shooting 4k you still won't run out of space on the SD card. You don't have to assembly lots of files afterwards, the video is already done when you land.

Import it into your editing program and simply speed up the clip. Done!

already tought about grading? The difference between a Video and only a JPEG is hughe! The benefit really starts if you're shooting your stills in raw...
Try this with a .mov or mp4 and you see what we mean...:-)
dronelapse at night
2017-3-21 15:51:18
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Gateway
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If your drone supports it you should probably put it into tripod mode as well.  You can also drag images into adobe premier pro and use the warp stabilizer if you don't have After Effects.
2017-3-21 17:00:34
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Fruxen
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Heliflo Posted at 2017-3-21 15:51
already tought about grading? The difference between a Video and only a JPEG is hughe! The benefit really starts if you're shooting your stills in raw...
Try this with a .mov or mp4 and you see what we mean...:-)
dronelapse at night

Well I should have said JPEG photo time lapse referring to the tutorial. The quality difference there vs video is pretty much nothing at all. Speeding up the video gives it lots of more information per second and negates the usual compression artifacts. You get a higher quality video than normal. It's not the same thing as shooting a JPEG vs taking a still from a real time video, in wich case the JPEG would be better. The benefit of video timelapse is that you don't have to guess the photo interval, you can choose any speed you want in post without a drop in quality.
Photo time lapse with RAW will have it benefits yes, especially like in your night shot there. You will have to do more advanced post processing compared to the tutorial though with batch editing to make use of it.

RAW definately allows for more powerful grading. Still, people show off their gorgeous graded 4K videos here all the time, and I have yet to hear someone say "Hey that doesn't look good at all since it was not shot in raw". Just saying. :)


2017-3-21 20:57:26
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Saskebaby
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Wow thanks for sharing....
2017-3-22 00:36:39
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digitalintruder
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+100 for this post - thanks for the details and thorough explaination. I am curious tho, why jpg and not raw?
2017-3-22 08:54:25
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Heliflo
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digitalintruder Posted at 2017-3-22 08:54
+100 for this post - thanks for the details and thorough explaination. I am curious tho, why jpg and not raw?

cause the min JPEG Interval is 2 sec and for RAW it's 10sec (except Inspire 2 with ssd)
2017-3-22 11:51:45
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digitalintruder
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Heliflo Posted at 2017-3-22 11:51
cause the min JPEG Interval is 2 sec and for RAW it's 10sec (except Inspire 2 with ssd)

ahh, thanks, that makes sense.
2017-3-22 11:51:54
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Cabansail
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Wonder why there is the difference in the intervals from Jpeg to Raw? I am able to shoot manual RAW images at a faster rate than that. Plenty of capacity on the card.
2017-3-22 18:28:01
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TPVAerials
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Thank you for the tutorial!
2017-3-22 19:36:10
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quadflyer
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nice Tutorial, thanks for sharing.. It would be nice, to get a Timelapse with RAW at 2sec..
2017-3-23 02:02:18
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Heliflo
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Cabansail Posted at 2017-3-22 18:28
Wonder why there is the difference in the intervals from Jpeg to Raw? I am able to shoot manual RAW images at a faster rate than that. Plenty of capacity on the card.

after 5 to 15 fast triggers in RAW (depending on your SD) you will see that you'll lose them cause of the filesize...
The fisrt few images are buffered in the cam. If the SD is to slow (and it will be to slow for a sd) youl'll loose shots...
2017-3-23 11:32:27
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pritchiedotcom
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Fruxen Posted at 2017-3-21 14:11
Hate to be "that guy" but... Really the only benefit of photo timelapses is that they take less space on the memory card than what the video would have done. But our drones can only be up for 20 minutes, and even when shooting 4k you still won't run out of space on the SD card. You don't have to assembly lots of files afterwards, the video is already done when you land.

Import it into your editing program and simply speed up the clip. Done!

Hate to be "that guy" but...  
For the time of day, it probably does not matter, other than you are limiting your creativity using video footage.  An important part of creating timelapse footage is shutter speed.  The example given focuses on "how to" rather than artistic perfection (which itself is subjective I know).  
So if you're a professional, then doing it using video footage is probably fine, unless it's a nightscape timelapse or your client is a connoisseur who appreciates a certain artistic style (rather than a slapdash approach).
For my own personal pleasure, I always attempt to create the best I can, time is not really a factor.  That's my style, you choose you're own.  Some people see the difference, some people don't.  There is no right or wrong, only how fussy you are.
There is always more than one way to skin a cat.. (an old sailors term meaning there is always more than one way to do something).  What is right for you, may not be for others.
Must importantly, always enjoy what you do!!
Thanks for sharing this "How To" DJI.  I've learnt a lot about timelapse using a drone from your article and the users comments.  All good.  Just got to get out there and do it now....  Going to take a few months (weather, family life, perfection gene), but I'll get there and hopefully share my adventure with you all.  :-)
2017-4-1 03:52:21
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pritchiedotcom
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Heliflo Posted at 2017-3-21 15:51
already tought about grading? The difference between a Video and only a JPEG is hughe! The benefit really starts if you're shooting your stills in raw...
Try this with a .mov or mp4 and you see what we mean...:-)
dronelapse at night

Love your work dude.. Shame about the FB Compression.  for me its only going sharp at the last 3s which is annoying.. tried re-watching a few times..  did you also upload it to youtube?
Thanks for sharing.
2017-4-1 04:01:12
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#shotxclvck
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#thankyouforposting   will definitely try this!
2017-4-1 13:40:30
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utahskier
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When will you be putting up the tutorial for the motion timelapse? I really want to try this! Thank you.
2017-4-4 11:01:00
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utahskier
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Heliflo Posted at 2017-3-21 10:31
Great tutorial! I've also already did some first attempts:
Dronelapse @night
Traffic at night

Hey question for you, what are you doing to export your dronelapses once you are done?  Im using premiere and for whatever reason i can export and play on my computer, but it wont play on my phone.  Figured you might know since you seem to have a lot of experience.  Thanks!
2017-4-13 18:59:54
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FeariTself
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Thanks for the tutorial I cant wait to try this out someday!
2017-4-13 19:06:07
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dedyis_77
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As a beginner, thank you for your tips.. really interesting
2017-4-17 21:38:57
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Advocate
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Thanks for the great post!
2017-4-21 03:03:27
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Flyin’ Wabbit
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If you don't want to use the high end post production software you mentioned you can also assemble the video from the shots using some (but not all) versions of Quicktime. It's a relatively quick import.
1 day ago
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