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Enthusiast’s Guide: Creating a time-lapse from still images in Photoshop

Photofocus features a series on multi-shot photography excerpted from Rocky Nook’s  “The Enthusiast’s Guide to Multi-Shot Techniques” by Alan Hess

If you decide to create a time-lapse movie yourself — either because your camera can’t do it automatically or because you want to have all the individual image files for some other use —you can do it pretty easily in Photoshop.

To make life easier, I suggest putting all the files that you will use to create the time-lapse into a unique folder. This way you can easily navigate to the folder when creating the timelapse in Photoshop and you don’t have to try and remember where the time-lapse starts and where it stops.

Follow these steps to create a time-lapse in Photoshop:

1. Open Photoshop and choose [File > Open].

2. Navigate to the folder containing the time-lapse images and click on the first image.

3. Check the Image Sequence box.

When opening a set of images to create a time-lapse, it’s important to make sure the Image Sequence checkbox is checked.

4. Click Open and a pop-up menu will ask you to input a frame rate for the movie.

5. Enter the frame rate you used to calculate the number of images you shot (Figure 48.2)

Make sure the frame rate you enter here is the same as the one you used to calculate how many images to take.

6. Choose [File > Export > Render to Video]. You will be presented with four output selections:

  • Location: This is where you enter the new filename and the location of the movie.
  • File Options: This is where you can set the size and type of the movie.
  • Range: This lets you choose the first and last frames of the sequence.
  • Render Options: This lets you adjust the Alpha Channel, 3D Quality, and High Quality Threshold. I have never adjusted any of these settings.

The final step is to export the images as a movie using the [Export > Render to Video] options.
7. Click on Render and be prepared to wait as Photoshop creates the time-lapse movie. The longer the movie is and the more frames there are, the longer it takes to process.

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