Processing your first time-lapses for free on Windows and Mac - a tutorial
Back to the basics
Taking your first time-lapse can be daunting, but often it’s not the taking of the time-lapse where people become unstuck, it’s in the editing.
Unlike video where there’s a single file, time-lapse means you end up with hundred, sometimes thousands, of images that need to be converted into a video file. It can seem pretty intimidating at first, but we’ll take you through a simple process of editing your time-lapses to make it all seem a little more achievable.
RAW or JPG?
There are two main image formats your camera can capture – RAW and JPG.
A RAW file is a much larger file with more information. It allows you to edit things like white balance and exposure and has much more detail where JPG doesn’t. That being said, JPGs can be considered ‘finished’ photos straight from your camera, so can be compiled into a time-lapse straight away with no editing or conversions.
RAW images, on the other hand, need to be edited and converted before you can compile them. They also take up much more room on your camera’s card, so if you have a smaller card, this might restrict the amounts of shots you can take.
RAW files definitely have benefits, but as a beginner time-lapser it’s going to take you a while to shoot some good time-lapses, so while you’re practicing shooting and compiling, don’t worry about RAW and stick with JPG.
There are heaps of different pieces of software and plenty of ways to compile time-lapses which can be overwhelming until you know what you’re doing. All you want to do at this stage is get your images together so you can take a look at your time-lapse, so you don’t want to be messing around with anything too complicated.
To keep it simple, we’ve put together two ways of compiling a time-lapse on Mac and Windows.
For Mac, we’ve chosen Time-lapse Assembler. It’s as simple as it gets and free. All you need to do is upload your images and out comes a compiled time-lapse.
For Windows, we’ll be compiling a time-lapse in Virtual Dub.
You do have other software options like QuickTimePro for Mac or Blender and Photoshop for Windows and Mac, we’ve just gone for the most simple options to get you up and running ASAP.
Time-lapse assembler is a great, simple option for putting together your first time-lapse if you’re working on Mac.
Essentially you’re uploading your sequence and exporting your time-lapse with minimal steps in between – check out our video for a walkthrough and some tips on settings.
Virtual Dub is a great option for all those Windows users out there. It’s free too, which means it’s perfect for compiling your first time-lapses in JPG form.
Something to keep in mind – to import images, the software you’re using has to recognise a sequence, meaning your images need to count up in numerical order. If they’re a random jumble of letters, they won’t be recognised as a sequence.
Most cameras and photo editors already do this automatically, though it’s always good to check. If it’s not in some for of sequence (it doesn’t have to start with 0001, they just must be consecutive), you’re going to have to rename the files.
For example here is a typical image sequence shot straight onto the camera:
If your sequence is numbered correctly, you’re good to go.
So that’s it – you’re ready to get out there and compile your first time-lapse. Got questions? Click through to the videos and ask away.