Monday, July 8, 2013

PE: Time Lapse Video Basics


Premiere Elements is a great tool for producing a high quality Time Lapse video from sequentially taken photos imported in a Folder into the project. Once the photos are on the Timeline in sequence, then Time Stretch can be used to experiment with and set (all at one time) the still image duration for the Timeline photos to achieve the wanted Time Lapse effect. The keys to success include introducing a Folder with the sequentially ordered photos  into the project and then dragging that Folder to the Timeline plus making sure beforehand that the photo pixel dimensions did not exceed 1920 x 1080 pixels (for HD Time Lapse export) or 1000 x 750 pixels (for SD Time Lapse export).


The basic focus areas are
  • Obtaining a series of photos taken over a period of time automatically, using the camera in its time lapse mode set at the time gap wanted.
  • Compiling those photos, maintaining the sequence, into a Folder.
 When Premiere Elements enters the equation
  • Importing that Folder with the sequentially ordered photos into Premiere Elements with its Get Media*/Files and Folders, dragging the Folder to the Timeline.

Detailed Premiere Elements Involvement

1. Select the appropriate project preset in the new project dialog (such as NTSC/AVCHD/Full HD 1080i30 (for HD) or NTSC DV Standard or Widescreen (for SD) or their PAL counterparts.

2.  Leave preferences "Still Image Default Duration" as is.
Unless changed by the user, each photo will have the default duration that the program sets in Edit Menu/Preferences/General "Still Image Default Duration". That option at that location is given only in frame units. So, for NTSC 30 frames/sec project with the Adobe default 150 frames, that would be equivalent to 5 seconds for the Still Image Default Duration.  In that Preferences area, that Still Image Default Duration can be set from 1 frame (equiv. 0.033 sec) to 1000000 frames (equiv. 33.333 sec).

The goal is to shorten the Still Image Duration to the same value for all those Timeline photos to get the desired effect. If ideal duration for this specific project is known by prior experimentation, then set that Still Image Duration here in Edit Menu/Preferences/General, and THEN import the Folder.

3. Otherwise leave the preferences "Still Image Default Duration" with the program's default, import the Folder, drag it to the Timeline, highlight all the Timeline photos, right click anywhere in the highlight, select Time Stretch from the pop up menu, and experiment with Time Stretch's duration field until the duration is found to give the Time Lapse effect sought. In this process each photo ends up with the same duration and all set at the same time.

In the Time Stretch dialog, the display is 00;00;00;05;00, representing hours; minutes; seconds; and frames. Example, if the photo duration there was decreased from 5 to 2 seconds, the reading would then be 00;00;02;00. If the photo duration there was decreased from 5 seconds to less than 1 second (say to 0.3 seconds), the reading would look like 00;00;00;09. That 9 frames would be equivalent to 0.3 second in my NTSC 30 frames per second project.

4. Bottom line: In this Time Stretch duration experimentation process, decrease the photo duration progressively until the desired results are seen. Besides some beforehand photo sizing considerations, some beforehand math may be needed on how many photos and what duration for each to get the wanted video duration. The user does not want to end up with a 6 hour video for a project where the total length of the movie and the duration of the photos were not taken into consideration beforehand.

Premiere Elements** approach is not that hard but there are those "details"*** to be aware of.

*These details are applicable to Premiere Elements 11 and earlier. Premiere Elements 11's Add Menu/Files and Folders/Project Assets would be on a par with earlier version's Get Media/Files and Folders/a project media area.
**This Premiere Elements Time Lapse Basics blog post will be expanded on in the near future.
***One of the details that has been asked about is the location of Time Stretch.
In Premiere Elements 11 Expert workspace, Time Stretch
a. Click onTools Menu/Time Stretch at top of interface or Tools Tab/Time Stretch at bottom of interface.
b. Right click the video on the Timeline and select Time Stretch from the pop up menu
c. With the video selected, use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+R

In Premiere Elements 11 Quick workspace, there is no opportunity to use Time Stretch by any means.