This film I created by myself. It is a series of time-lapse shots that I edited together and put to music. Rather than using a regular video camera, I opted to use a digital SLR camera because it allowed me to shoot in ultra high definition as well as get the depth of field only available to film cameras.

Canon digital Rebel XT
Canon TC-80N3 Timer
Quicktime Pro
Final Cut Pro

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that the TC-80N3 doesn’t fit with the Canon Rebel, so I found this guy who makes a custom adapter for exactly this problem.

This is a Ross Ching Labs project

Download in 480p Quicktime (66.7 MB)
Download in 720p Quicktime(137 MB)

Music: The Album Leaf – The Outer Banks

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how I made this video. One thing that I would really stress is using Google and searching just for random techniques, examples, and tutorials. This is how I have learned 60% of everything I know. (30% from real life experiences, and 10% for actual school)

The Techniques

When I first set out to create this thing I had to think about what kind of equipment was out there and how I could create my desired effect within my budget (not much). I already had a digital SLR camera (strongly recommended) to shoot pictures, but I needed a way to time the shots so that I didn’t have to touch the camera at all (touching the camera, even the shutter button makes the shot unusable).

taking photos

What I discovered (through the internet) was the Canon TC-80N3. It let me hook up the timer to my camera (with an attachment). Once I got everything I needed, I set out to make something tight. First I just experimented with shots around my house, which came out surprisingly well and ended up in the final cut. The best technique to use when first starting out is experimentation and thinking outside the box. Moreover, learn how to use your digital SLR camera. This will allow you to make the shot turn out to your liking without wasting 2-4 hours of your time looking at your footage after you bring it back to your computer.

I also got a lot of questions about how long I expose shots. To be honest, it depends. Some shots take 30 second exposures at 31 second intervals, while other shots took 1/4000th of a second at 10 second intervals. A lot of it depends how fast your subject is moving, and the lighting conditions. But be sure that when you start taking photos, you don’t touch the camera. For example, in the shots of the stars, I had to take 30 second exposures at 31 second intervals because the sky moves extremely slow. But for the blurred shots of traffic, I took 1-2 second exposures at 5 second intervals.

One weekend, I traveled out to the Anza-Boreggo Desert outside of San Diego to shoot pictures. I also shot some pictures of me working on it: click here. Basically, I camped in my car and drove around the area looking for cool, scenic landscapes. At times it would get boring, cause there was nothing to do while the camera took pictures. Other times I would go hike around and looks at other cool landmarks. The nice thing was that I went at the end of summer, so it was cool enough, and there was barely anyone in the area, allowing me to leave my camera unattended at times (not recommended).


After most shots, I would import the photos onto my laptop and check to see how the scene came out. To do this, I basically imported the photos like a normal digital camera. Then I needed to resize my photos to be 1080p. (They could have been ultra high definition, but I decided the largest they needed to be was 1080p.) To do this, I had to resize every picture which would have taken a very long time to do since I literally took thousands of photos. Instead, since I use a mac, I created a custom Automator action. (Learn more about Automator by Googling it.) This lets me simply click 1 button and the resizing is done. If you’re using a pc…umm, well, you’re on your own.

Next what needs to be done is make a Quicktime movie out of the individual photos. So using Quicktime Pro, I chose file>Open Image Sequence… then select the first photo in the photo set. Quicktime then asks what frame rate you want it to be. I use 24 frames per second because that’s the Hollywood standard. Finally, you can preview your movie and save it. Now what I did was take it into Final Cut Pro and edit the shots like a normal movie.

Hopefully this was helpful. If not feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.

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