Time lapse video interval?

There's a possibility that I could capture the tide coming in on Spurn Point. The North Sea tidal surge in 2013 broke through the land and washed away the road. This area is what I would take the time lapse of. It is an area which migrating water birds stop to refuel so I'm not sure if I'll be allowed to do it on my birding trip this week but I'd like to be prepared.
newI'd like to take the time lapse video over two hours - one hour before and one hour after high tide. Can anyone tell me what sort of interval would make a good video please? I would probably use the SJCAM4000 as this has a setting for time lapse video as well as interval sill p

Fly High



  • In my experience, taking a photo every 10 seconds and then making a timelapse with a frame rate of 15 frames per second works well for scenes with waves or boats on a river. The end result looks reasonably smooth as long as there's nothing rapid happening too close to the camera. In one hour you would take 360 photos which will turn in to about 24 seconds of movie.

  • Another thought is that you can always toss frames, but it's harder to create new ones. So running every 5 seconds allows you to do 5sec->30fps 10sec->30fps 5sec->15fps 10sec->15fps, etc. Just chuck every other frame to get a longer interval. As long as you have storage space, the only penalty is the time it takes to discard the frames you don't want.

  • edited October 2015
    I have a little interactive excel spreadsheet for calculating these things Sue. Can email it if desired.

    timelapse calcs
  • Thanks guys. That's very helpful. I didn't know what interval would make it smooth and how long the end film would be.
    Now. ... What system would you save the resulting video in

    Fly High

  • I've done a fair amount of time lapse work, and while I'm not an expert, I do have some things to add:

    1) The smoothness of the resulting video will be dependent on how fast things are moving. For fast moving clouds, I'd use a 3 second interval. Slow placid clouds you can get away with less frequent shots.

    2) When you a time lapse, you might be able to use some time lapse feature in your camera, I know that many newer cameras do cool stuff for you, and you'll need to research what your camera can do for you. If you're not using any kind of special features though, you'll need to be careful about your camera settings. All of these should be set to a fixed thing while taking your photos:

    a) White balance. Cameras make subtly different white balance choices from frame to frame if you have this set to Auto. Choose whatever is appropriate and keep it there. (cloudy, bright sunlight, etc)

    b) Exposure time. (shutter speed). If you can get your shutter to be a bit longer, you can get a smoother resulting video.

    c) Aperture. Depth of field should not change during the course of your time lapse.

    d) ISO. Together, your ISO, Shutter Speed, and Aperture all impact the overall exposure of each photo. Keep these exactly the same from shot to shot, and you'll have a great video, if you don't, you'll get flickering in your video that you don't want.

    e) Focus. Many cameras and lenses will subtly change how much subject matter appears in the frame at different focus points. Make sure your focus is set to Manual, that you've focused on the thing you want to focus on, and then don't let the camera try to refocus for each shot while shooting.

    f) Any kind of image stabilization features need to be turned off. Newer cameras *might* be able to tell when they're attached to a tripod and self-disable the image stabilization, but don't count on it. Image stabilization and tripods do not go well together, the camera tries to stabilize the entire tripod, and it can result in fuzzy images. (longer exposures suffer from this much more than very fast exposures)

    g) Turn off the image review on your camera. Once you're sure you've got everything set correctly, the image review just drains your battery more quickly. You don't need it when you're letting your camera shoot for a long time, so turn it off so you can shoot for an even longer time.

    3) Practice! if you have a once-a-year opportunity to get a cool time lapse, make sure it's not your first. All the stuff I've said about intervals is really important to practice with so you have a really good idea of what kind of output to expect. Set up the camera in your window and shoot the random clouds coming by. See if there are differences between the built-in time lapse feature and what you can do on your own. Remembering all the settings you want to do on your camera might mean that you create a checklist. I've done lots of time lapse videos where I forgot something important and made a worse video because of it.

    Here are some examples videos:

    Lake Union:
    This video was shot with intervals that were too big, and as such you get a jerky movement in the clouds. You'll also notice overall brightness flickering, this is because I had the camera in Aperture Priority mode, and the camera was making a decision about how bright the scene was from image to image, and occasionally getting it wrong, or at least different from the surrounding images.

    Moonrise over downtown Seattle:
    Also intervals that were too big. Jerky cloud movment.

    Star Trails in California, Yosemite and Mono Lake:
    When everything goes right. Note that the brightening of the 3rd sequence is due to the full moon rising behind the mountains.

    Ferry ride from Bainbridge Island to Seattle:
    Again, everything was correctly controlled here, resulting in a smooth video.

    Hope that helps.
  • Very nice cookinghamus. Practice. Practice. Practice.

    Is it possible that's aurora borealis at Mono Lake?
  • edited October 2015
    and to complicate matters further you can stick your camera on a kitchen timer for panning timelapse

  • beautiful topic, thanks to all contributions and a special thanks to cookinghamus
    I would only add to adjust resolution lower than max, but reasonably higher than movie quality (just to avoid dealing with some / too many GB,..)
    SMAC from Italy
  • SueSue
    edited October 2015
    @ cookinghamus
    Lots of tips which make a difference. Thanks. I'll be using the SJCAM4000 ( Go-Pro lookalike) there are quite a few settings on it as well as video Time lapse which I'll have a go at. The white balance isn't as good as auto in some cases. I put it on "daylight" on the beach and everything was a ginger color.


    Daylight setttting was OK on an average sort of scene. Taken the previous day from the cliff top.
    Same place Filey UK


    Also..Your videos aren't there. Nester had to put a link in as his weren't showing either.
    @ Admin. Is there a problem with linking videos?
    @ Andrew I've seen dedicated ones for sale on eBay from £8 to £72 ! Cool video on the beach.

  • Thanks tgran. Yep, northern lights all the way down south at Mono Lake. I was extremely fortunate. :)
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