There are several factors you need to consider in coordinating the time lapse settings to your most ideal setup, and it primarily depends on your goals and requirements. If you want to achieve professional time lapse videos, you’ll have to start with the basics.
In shooting a time-lapse, you will come across three primary settings that need to be adjusted before starting a shoot:  how many frames per second (fps) to apply, also known as the frame rate,  interval rate, and  memory capacity. These should be modified accordingly if you want to get good results based on the guiding principles of time-lapse photography.
Why Choose The Right Settings For Time Lapse?
The primary goal of choosing the best time lapse mode on your camera is to capture more progressive details of a particularly long scene in a short period. You want to be as accurate as possible since you are essentially recording in real-time. Therefore, the amount of time you spend recording and playing back in your digital video recorder should be long enough to capture all of the events you want to keep track of.
The time lapse settings will help achieve your desired recording goals with specific adjustments. Take note that you need to make sure that the suggested setup is suitable for your camera model to get the most accurate video recording.
There are different time lapse modes available, and each has its purposes. You may be required to turn some of the extra settings down if they are not suitable for your needs.
What Are The Best Settings For A Professional Time Lapse Video?
Even if you are new to this, you might have already seen a time lapse video several times on the internet. These videos offer an interesting window into the world of photography. You can use these videos as training aids or get some input about positioning and exposing your camera. They can also show you the importance of getting the right settings to use so that you can create a professional-looking time lapse video.
When a series of still photos are taken over a specific period, you can put them together with the impression of time speeding up. A video is a compilation of captured images or frames in quick progression. If you view a video at a very slow speed, you can see the succession of every frame that makes up the whole recording for a longer time. In a time lapse, you want to quicken the sequence of the frames in order to capture the entire movement or scene at a fast pace and in a short time. For example, you can show off a beautiful sunrise, sunset, blooming flowers, or whatever else you want to capture in a time lapse without letting the viewers watch them for hours.
You may find that you can easily use the time-lapse settings on your camera to create a very cool effect while shooting a new project. When you are shooting a new project, especially if you don’t know the photo settings yet, you can use the guidelines here, so you can make adjustments to the settings to have the best professional result.
So, how can you achieve a good time lapse quality?
Let’s talk more about the functions of each setting to help you achieve the perfect time lapse shoot.
1. Frame Rate
The first thing you need to consider on your camera’s time-lapse settings is how many frames per second you want to record. The frames refer to the photos captured per second. This setting should go hand in hand with the interval rate you want to set for the shoot.
How Many Frames Per Second is Good For Time Lapse?
Time lapse videos are generally rendered at 24 or 30 fps. You can start shooting your time lapse at the initial frame rate, and you can adjust it later on if it seems necessary. This will make the actual footage look much more professional. The resulting footage will also have much better color and image resolution.
However, for you to calculate the accurate frame rate for the time lapse, you have to determine how fast the movements will be in a scene, which involves the next settings option you need to adjust.
2. Interval Rate
Time-lapse interval determines the speed and length of your output video. To time it properly, you need to consider the following factors:
- Type of event or scene
- How long the event/shoot would take
- Rate of action that will take place
- Length of time-lapse compilation
How to Choose a Time-lapse Interval
Here is a basic time interval guideline for beginners who want to learn to capture a time lapse shoot with the best settings:
- 1-second time interval: fast-moving scenes (i.e., car drive)
- 1 to 3-second time interval: moderately fast-moving scenes (i.e., cityscapes, sunsets)
- 15 to 60-second time interval: moderately slow-moving scenes (i.e., moving shadows, stars)
- 90-second to 15-minute time interval: average movement speed at more extended periods (i.e., building construction)
3. Memory Card Capacity
If you want an estimated measurement of the amount of memory a time lapse is stored, you have to break it down to every frame captured per second and multiply each of their sizes to the total length of the video.
The size of the file will vary depending on the camera’s image size for the time lapse and the quality settings you want to use for the shoot. Naturally, videos with higher resolutions are going to be stored in bigger file sizes.
Lastly, make sure that you use a memory card with the capacity to store the entire file. Anyway, you won’t be needing the expensive type of media cards with high write speed as you need to prioritize having a higher capacity for smoother recording. Otherwise, you’ll need to keep an eye on the scenes or exposures to replace the media cards just in time as the other one runs out, which highly applies to longer time lapses.
In addition to the settings you need to consider in terms of the time-lapse interval and how many frames per second is good enough for the shoot, your video quality has a lot to do with your camera and the quality settings available in it. Many professional photographers prefer to shoot using high-definition cameras because the image is more precise and more detailed. Some would instead shoot in a lower resolution because they think it is more aesthetically pleasing. Whatever your preferences are, don’t hesitate to explore and experiment until you find the ideal settings for time-lapse recordings that best suit your needs.