Creating Timelapse Effects with Still Images (Part I)

I was recently asked how I created certain aspects of a timelapse video I made for Flickr. The answer was ‘I can’t remember’!, which made me think that maybe I should dig out the project and share the love.

I then realised that it got very tricky with Quicktime Image sequences and Photoshop Layer Comps and Actions… So click through for some crazy Photo editing!

The Basics – Quicktime Image Sequence

Ok. This is going to be a Mac centric post, cos that’s all I have! Any PC guys who want to help out can do so in the comments section…

The simplest way to create video from a set of successive still frames is to use Quicktime player.

Firstly you’ll need all your frames in JPEG format in a folder somewhere.

You’ll also need Quicktime Pro, the free version won’t cut it and I’m afraid you’ll need the version of Quicktime 7 that hides in the Utilities folder of Snow Leopard installs, not the newer Quicktime X (at the time of writing).
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Open this up and choose “Open Image Sequence” from the File menu (Shift-Apple-O Mac People). This will ask you to navigate to the first image in your folder. It will then use filenames in ascending order to create a movie that moves through the frames in order.
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[I used Automator (you can use any batch file naming tool) to rename all the frames in an ascending numerical order starting from 1 with a suffix of ‘StarStack’. So frame 1 was 001-StarStack, frame 2 was 002-StarStack e.t.c You don’t have to do this.. It’s just easier on the brain than IMG_8475, IMG_8746 e.t.c]
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Next choose a frame rate. It’s up to you. Try and visualise how many frames you have and how long you want the sequence to last. I had 277 frames, which at 25fps (yup I’m PAL centric..) is just over 11 seconds. [BTW thats 11.55 seconds at 24p HD folk!].
#alttext#
For some of the sequences I rendered the movies out at 12fps because I didn’t have enough frames.

You then have a massive movie file that may not play properly because it’s trying to play out 25 6 Megapixel frames each one 3MB each! Don’t panic! We’ll just export the Quicktime to a smaller format.

If you just have one sequence, then you are done. Choose your fave YouTube type preset and export. Me, I’m gonna save these out as Large HD 1080 format movies to cut them up later in Final Cut.

So far we have…

Right, Now we know how to do Part 1, lets make our frames more interesting in Photoshop..

Over to Part II…

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