October 28, 2009
As regular readers of this blog will know, I have an interest in Timelapse photography. I’ve had Jeffrey Friedl write a panning script (thanks yet again, Jeffrey!) and I’ve even gone as far as writing a plugin that uses ffmpeg to create video from exported files. But now thanks to Andy Rahn, Lee Jay Fingersh and Matt Dawson, I’ve achieved an even better goal: Timelapse video straight from Lightroom.
Even with the advent of Video Export in Lightroom 3 Beta, it seems that the 0.1sec minimum duration for a slide would help thwart any hope of getting the 24fps needed for timelapse video. Andy Rahn suggested looking deeper into available preset/template files. So I did. 24fps is 1/24 sec per frame or 0.041666666667 duration. I manually entered this inside the template file.
The next step is to get a working Video export file that gives both the right frame rate, size and bit rate. After lots of fiddling round with the inbuilt presets, and trying many different values, I opted for quality over reduced size. I created a 24fps, 720p, 8Mb video preset. The files average 1Mb per second, but the quality is excellent. Yes 1080p is also possible but initially I’ve gone with 720 as that is the highest any of the video sharing sites allow.
To install these 2 files, first open Lightroom Preferences (Lightroom menu on Mac, Edit menu on PC). Click the Presets tab, then click ‘Show Lightroom Presets folder.
The Slideshow Preset goes in the User Templates folder in Slideshow Templates, while the video preset goes into the User Presets inside the VIdeo Presets folders. Now the Video Presets folder may not be there, so you may need to create it, and a User Presets folder within it. Once these are in place, restart Lightroom.
To use, put your image sequence into a Collection and open it in Slideshow. Next select the ’24fps Timelapse’ Template. Note that the ‘Slides’ duration appears to say 0.0s. Ignore this. The setting is below 0.05, so Lightroom is rounding down the visible figure. Don’t change it either! Next click on the Export Video button at the bottom of the Left panel. From the Preset list, choose ’720P TL’. Name your file and click Export. Congrats, you now have a video timelapse created in Lightroom.
The video file linked at the top was created using this method, and was originally a 10.21MB file. Exposure Room have compressed it to a 3Mb file, so there is a loss of quality from this. The original is pristine however.
Update: I’ve added a version that uses a straight h.264 codec also, for those that have issues with the AVC codec. http://lightroom-blog.com/presets/720ptl.zip