The Video Time-Lapse Video Production Method

Driving Time-Lapse – GoPro 4K Video Conversion Method

This is a time-lapse video of me driving from my garage into town (Williamston, MI) with a GoPro on my car roof. Click here to see a photo of my GoPro camera on the roof of my car. (This video looks really good at full screen and in HD, by the way.) It is sped up 21.978 times normal speed.

How I Made This Video – The Video Time-Lapse Video Production Method – An Alternative to Traditional Time-Lapse

I recorded my drive using the GoPro Hero 3 with record settings of “4K Cin, 12 fps, Protune”. I imported and converted using GoPro Studio software’s conversion settings of “1080p, 23.976 fps, speed up option checked, skipping every 10 frames (actually with blur checked it averages every ten frames and, by averaging, it reduces noise also), blur option checked, remove fisheye checked, medium quality”. After editing in GoPro Studio, I exported using the “Vimeo” option that outputs a 1080p file with a bit rate of 15Mbps that is exactly what Vimeo wants.

camoncar

My GoPro Camera mounted with suction cup to the roof of my car.

So, in short, this was a plain old video file and not a bunch of images that had to be combined to make a timelapse. I just sped up the file by converting it to double the speed (12 fps recorded then 23.976 fps converted) skipping every 10 frames (10 times faster or play 1 frame, skip 10, for a total of 1 out of every 11 that gets played) and adding the blur. Here’s the math: 23.976/12=1.998*11=21.978.

Why do this instead of “regular” time-lapse? By using the 4K 12fps setting, I get about six times more temporal (time) resolution than by taking JPEG photos, so the video looks much smoother. Plus, the data rate is lower by using 4K video (about half what it would have been by taking JPEG files and putting them together like a traditional time-lapse).

Soundtrack

I created the soundtrack also and mixed it with the video using GoPro Studio. Here below is a copy of it you can play from my SoundCloud page.

Summary

If a smooth time-lapse video is eluding you or is one of your goals, then this is the way to go:

  1. Film (record) your subject using video at a lower-than-normal (below 23.976 fps) frame rate.
  2. Convert the video to a higher frame rate. This will increase the perceived speed in the video.
  3. Optional, but recommended: Further increase the perceived speed of the video by pulling out (skipping) frames and blurring. Alternatively, you could do this alone and see what you would get.

I used GoPro Studio software to make this particular video and it worked really well. I am rethinking my use of other programs in favor of GoPro Studio in light of recent improvements.

I’ll have more on video and time-lapse in future posts. In the meantime, you can follow me and my videos on my Vimeo page at http://vimeo.com/larslentz.

Thank you for reading what I wrote — I hope you enjoyed it!

Glossary of Terms Used in this Post

  • 4K Cin – A cinematic film format suitable for movie theatres. ‘Cin’ implies a 17:9 aspect ratio instead of the usual 16:9.
  • Protune – A video enhancement algorithm made for the GoPro camera where the result is more vivid color and sharper, higher-contrast images.
  • fps – Frames per second – a measure of the frame rate. This is the number of frames that are shown each second in a video. Anything less than 23.976 will look jerky when viewed.
  • 1080p – The size of the video on screen. The 1080 is the vertical size. The aspect ratio of 16:9 results in a 1080p video being 1920 pixels wide by 1080 pixels tall.
  • Aspect ratio – The ratio of a video’s viewed width to height. 16:9 is common for video. 4:3 is also, but not in 1080p. 17:9 is cinematic (movie theater screen).
  • Vimeo – A video hosting site that is higher quality than YouTube. It is preferred by photographers for this reason (and others).

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