Timelapse is a hot new trend in photography/videography. I found a new devise to use with my camera that makes planning, setting up, and shooting a timelapse video much easier.
Michron is a device that plugs into your camera and allows you to take time-lapses. The Michron intervalometer is special because it has no buttons or screens: instead the user interface is the Michron App that runs on your Android or iPhone. You create your settings with the app then upload them to the unit on your camera by attaching it your smart phone using the programming cable. Once you plug the Michron into the trigger port, it will tell your camera to take photos with your settings. The battery life is over 2500 hours.
I can program my Michron to take photos at a regular interval such as 1 photo every 5 seconds. I can also can control my time-lapse with some advanced features
Bulb Ramping: exposure is altered to capture changing light conditions
Interval Ramping: the interval between photos changes throughout
HDR: take multiple images at different exposure levels for each frame for later HDR processing
Find out more on the Michron website: http://www.alpinelaboratories.com
Michron is one of the nifty product ideas for photographers that I have found on Kickstarter. Not all of them get funded and get produced, but this one made it. I just received mine and had some fun with it while in South Africa at my lodge.
My First Michron Project
I decided to try a nighttime starscape as my first time-lapse. I set up the shot with one of my tree houses in the foreground. The nights are totally black where I am and this makes for some great star gazing, but I needed a powerful light on the tree house to make it show. I rigged that up and compensated for my lack of a tripod by straping my camera to my ATV.
I programmed the Michron with my Android phone. I set the camera to Manual and switched to autofocus so the camera would not keep adjusting focus for each shot: this could lead to missing a photo or a difference in focus points. I choose the settings on the Michron App on my phone and use the program cable to transfer it to the Michron unit on the camera. I can then take my phone away with me. My timelapse was set for 3 hours with an image captured every minute. The Michron calculates how long the final video will be to help you design your video.
I left it to do its thing and came back later to collect my camera and download the images.
Processing the Images and Turning them into a Video.
Those familiar with full video editing software will want to use those advanced software tools to turn the stills into video. But most will appreciate something a bit easier such as the video capabilities built into Photoshop.
First Steps: Move the raw files off the camera, process for exposure etc, save as tif or jpg files.
If you use Lightroom, you can do these first steps with Lightroom. If you just have Photoshop, you can do this through Camera Raw (which shares much of the same functionality as Lightroom). You want to open all of the raw files then make any necessary changes to exposure, white balance, sharpening, etc to the first image then copy / synchronize the adjustments to all of the images. Lightroom and Camera Raw both have this capability.
Next you want to save the images in either a Tif or Jpg format. For the rest of the process to work in Photoshop, you will need to do two things:
1) save all of the processed files into a Folder containing only the processed files
2) Apply names to the files that are sequential. Avoid dates. Make sure there are no missing numbers so PS does not mess up.
I had my files named in the format: GS_sequence#_date.tif and PS didn’t work properly until I renamed then to treehouse_sequence#.tif
I also converted them to 8 bit from 16 bit when I processed them out to TIF from raw and renamed them.
Using Photoshop for Assembling the Video
Open Photoshop and choose File: New
In the dialogue box under Preset: Film & Video
Assign a name
For Size: choose HDV/HDTV 720p/29.97 – this is a good format for tablets and phones. There is loads to learn about codex and broadcast formats, but here I am just aiming for something to host on my website or have on my phone: something nice looking but not a huge file too large to share around.
The next step is to load the images or that PS treats each one as a separate video frame.
Go to the menu and choose Layer: Video Layers: New Layer from Files…
Navigate to folder where you saved your processed time lapse files and choose the first image in the sequence and choose Open. Make sure there is no gap in file numbers and the names are simple and obviously sequential or PS will mess up.
What you have now is a set of instructions pointing to the folder with the rest of the images in it. It probably does not fit in the space, but dont worry about that, we will fix it soon.
Open TImline Panel: Window: Timeline
Adjust settings in the Timeline menu which is at the top right corner.
Set timeline frame rate : 23.976 This is best choice for tv, tablets, etc broadcast use 24 or 25(pal)
Convert clip to smart object so you can adjust it to a size that fits in the frame. To do this right click on the layer and choose it from the menu. Use Edit: Free Transform to resize the clip.
To make further adjustments to the clip images you can add adjustment layers above the clip layers, such as for color effects. I do as much adjustment as I can in Lightroom before I export the images. I find it easier to do my corrections there and use PS or another video program for fun and special adjustments.
If you have experience with video you can add fancier effects such as employ ing keyframes to similate a camera move over time, fades, etc. You can also adjust the speed of playback and thus length of video in the Timeline. There are many other editing controls available in PS .
Export the video out to use or process further in another editing program.
Method: H.264 is for web or devices – use with High Quality preset
Use Quicktime if you are going to use another editing tool (use JPEG2000 or one of the uncompressed options )
Animation Codec is the ultimate quality, but has an enormous file size.
For web or social media go with H.264 and High Quality preset as a starter
If you know your delivery format you might find it under the Size box. Push Render and let Photoshop make the video file. After it processes and saves the file, you can go to your file browser, click on it watch it play.
Though it is just a simple timelapse at this point, adding fades, titles, audio, and zooms can really make it more exciting. Michron also has another product which pans your camera while taking the timelapse for added motion and drama.
I will try this again on our May 2015 safaris, perhaps there will be guests who also want to give it a try.