Read my review of LRTimelapse, the best software to create smooth day-to-night time lapse videos.
LRTimelapse it’s simply the best software to create flickering-free time lapse videos. Developed by the German photographer Gunther Wegner, it has gotten better and better over the years. If you are into time lapse photography there isn’t much to add since you probably are using this software already. However, If you are not familiar with it, or you just started making your first time lapse videos in this post you’ll find some useful info.
What is a time lapse video?
Time-lapse photography is a technique where the frequency at which film frames are captured (the frame rate) is much lower than that used to view the sequence. When played at normal speed, time appears to be moving faster and thus lapsing. For example, an image of a scene may be captured once every second, then played back at 30 frames per second; the result is an apparent 30 times speed increase. This means that processes that would normally appear subtle to the human eye, e.g. the motion of the sun and stars in the sky or plant growth, become very pronounced.
Here’s a classic example.
As you can see, the result is pretty awesome. Interestingly this is not a new technique. It is actually quite old. The first use of time-lapse photography was in Georges Méliès’ motion picture Carrefour De L’Opera in 1897. Obviously today it’s much easier to create time lapse videos. So much so that the newest smartphone have this option and pretty much anyone can now record it’s own time lapse videos.
One thing, though, is to use a smartphone to create simple time lapse videos, another thing is to create professional 4K or 8K time lapses that you can sell. You’ll definitely need a specific software and this is why LRTimelapse it’s fundamental.
Why do you need LRTimelapse?
There are many software that allow you to create a time lapse video. If you want you can use Photoshop or, even better, Adobe After Effects and they all work fine if you are recording a time lapse during the day. Things get much more complicated if you are shooting at sunrise or sunset. That’s because usually when you record a time lapse you set you camera and then wait until it has recorded all the images. The problem is that at sunrise or sunset the amount of light changes and you’ll have to keep adjusting the exposure. Even if you do it correctly, you’ll soon realize that the video will suffer from an effect called flickering. In other words you’ll see subtle changes of exposure in the final video that are very difficult, if not impossible, to remove. That’s why you’ll need to edit the video using LRTimelapse. You can easily get rid of all the flickering and create a nice and smooth day-to-night (or night-to-day) time lapse video.
This is what I’m talking about.
How does LRTimelapse work?
The concept it’s pretty easy. Rather than manually editing every single shoot to try to adjust the different exposures, this software will analyze all of the metadata in the images. It will then provide a graphical representation of the exposure changes and mark a few Key Frames so that you only have to manually edit few images. LRTimelapse will take the adjustments made on those files in Lightroom and apply a smooth transition to the rest of the video.
This is the complete tutorial on how to use this function, called Holy Grail.
As you can see what this software can do it’s pretty impressive. It will definitely change the way you record you time lapses and it will help you to boost your sales if you sell stock footage.
I personally just started using LRTimelapse and I know I have to practice a lot before I can master it. But the good thing is that since there are so many photographers using it, there are plenty of tutorials that I can watch to learn something new. As usual, practice makes perfect, so the best way to learn is by getting out and shooting a lot.
I won’t write a tutorial because you can find one on the official website and many other online but what I can say is that it’s important that you record your time lapse correctly while you are outside. You’ll definitely need a tripod and you’ll need to shoot in manual mode including manual ISO and manual white balance. You’ll also need to manually focus before you start shooting and disable the lens stabilizer. This is fundamental because it will allow you to start with good shoots that you can edit.
If you are shooting a sunrise or sunset time lapse you’ll have to keep adjusting the exposure according to the light. This is where things can get a bit messy. You can do it manually, changing the setting of your camera while it is recording. In this case you’ll have to be super careful not to move it or you’ll ruin the entire shooting. The best option however would be using an app on your smartphone like DslrDashboard so that you don’t have to touch your camera.
Using LRTimelapse + qDslrDashboard
This option is obviously more complicated but it’s definitely the best thing to do. With qDslrDashboard you can change the settings of your camera from your tablet or smartphone. But you can do something better. You can automate this process and let qDslrDashboard change the setting for you while the sun rises or sets! With this tool, recording time lapses at sunrise or sunset becomes super easy and you can eventually enjoy the scenery while drinking a beer waiting for the camera to finish the shooting.
If you just started taking time lapses maybe it’s better to wait a bit, until you become more familiar LRTimelapse and then then try DslrDashboard. But remember that whatever you decide to do, there is definitely a learning curve and you’ll need to invest some of your time. If you think it’s too difficult, don’t give up. You’ll eventually learn how to use all these tools and it will definitely be worth it.
There are three versions of LRTimelapse and they have different features. The free version has a lot of limitations but it’s a good choice if you want to see the potential of this software. Here more details. Remember that only the Pro versions allows you to profit (sell) your time lapses. Last but not least you can buy the official eBook (free if you get the Pro version) with teach you all you need to know about time lapse photography.
To summarize here some of the Pros and Cons about LRTimelapse:
- You won’t find anything better. LRTimelapse it’s simply the best software
- Since this software it’s widely used, you’ll find a lot of info and tutorials on how to use it properly
- You can use the basic version for free
- If you are familiar with time lapse videos the workflow it’s pretty straighforward
- It can be a bit difficult to use it if you just started creating time lapse videos
- You need Lightroom to use this software
- The Pro version is a bit pricey
Here you can find a review of a great tool for Photoshop Raya Pro that helps to easily merge two or more exposures. Here the review of Photographing the World 1, one of the best video series to improve your landscape photography skills. Here’s my guide on how to take better travel photos.