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Framing the Shot for Time-lapse Video

© Jim Ball

If you’re shooting time-lapse on a DSLR, there are two problems you need to address:

  • Sensor versus frame size
  • Overall composition

Sensor vs. Frame Size

Ultimately there is a key problem when it comes to shooting time-lapse on a DSLR camera.  The aspect ratio of the sensor will nearly always be different that the aspect ratio of your playback screen. With time-lapse photography you are shooting an image with a 3:2 ratio (as opposed to the delivery size of 16:9). You may want to mark your LCD or LiveView panel with tape or just remember the difference when you compose the frame.

Overall composition

Speaking of composition; be sure to set your frame to minimize unwanted action. Some moving elements in your frame will distract from your time-lapse shots. For example, if you are recording an action that dictates flowing/natural movement (such as clouds), frame out the more hectic elements of the scene like tree branches moving frenetically in the wind. If you are shooting in the city, perhaps shooting general urban activity, be sure to hide the camera from view or place it at a height that will prevent unwanted attention from gawkers staring into your lens.

Go Big! Use Camera Raw to Make Time-lapse Movies

Using Raw Photos in a Time-lapse from Richard Harrington on Vimeo.

In this Triple Exposure tutorial, Rich Harrington shows you how to use raw files in a time-lapse movie. Learn how to access Adobe Camera Raw from right within Adobe After Effects.

Want to use After Effects and Camera Raw in your own time-lapse movies? We’ve got a copy of Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Production Premium to give away. Just follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/3exposure and mention us in a tweet.