Creating Behind-The-Scene time-lapses is customary for stop motion artists, especially if you're active on social media. People are always curious to see what you do to make objects move, and time-lapses are your opportunity to show them.
Recording time-lapses is pretty easy these days. Even smartphones have time-lapse features that let you document your entire shoot with a single tap on the screen.
But just because your camera can do time-lapse doesn't mean you're guaranteed to get fantastic shots all the time. That's why we're here to guide you in recording your animation process like a pro.
Before we start, find out if your camera has a time-lapse feature!
These days, the majority of the cameras include a time-lapse mode. But that doesn't mean that it comes standard in every camera.
If your camera doesn't have a time-lapse feature, you can buy an external intervalometer instead. You can think of it as a remote that automatically captures still frames at certain time intervals.
And if you're not in the mood to buy any more camera gadgets, your phone would be your best alternative. It's not only easy to use, but it also produces stunning time-lapses comparable to DSLRs and mirrorless options.
Tips on Recording Quality Time-lapse Shots
Keep your camera charged so you wouldn't run out of power in the middle of creating a time-lapse. If you're using a regular camera, it would be best to use an A/C adaptor. And if you're using a phone, plug it into your charger throughout the shoot.
Position your camera, so you have a clear view of the objects you're animating. The best angle is often where your primary camera (the one you're using for your animation) is located. So you need to be creative and figure out where to place your time-lapse camera.
Pick a camera angle where you won't end up blocking the lens while you're working. Even the most experienced stop motion artists sometimes commit this mistake. So be conscious of where your time-lapse camera is when moving around. Your audience needs to see the objects you're animating at all times!
Include the environment surrounding the set when applicable. Although not always necessary, it would help to show people how you set up your lights or where you placed your camera for animation. That way, your audience will have a better context of how you achieved your shot.
Here are the types of time-lapses you can use for capturing behind-the-scenes footage:
The static shot is the most common way of recording your time-lapse. All you have to do is prop your camera on a tripod, hit the Record button, and forget about it until you finish your animation. It's simple, and it's the best option for you if you want to concentrate on animating.
If you want people to see the complexity of your work better, then you should try doing a time-lapse from various perspectives. Don't worry if you don't have five cameras at your disposal. Record from one area first. Then, during a break from your shoot, you can stop your time-lapse, move the camera to another spot and start filming again.
If you have a slider, you should consider recording your time-lapse with it. Adding motion to your time-lapse allows you to have more dynamic shots and lets you capture more elements in the scene. In the sample video you see above, you get to see the animator working, the camera, and the animated objects all in one shot.
When adding movement to your time-lapse, make sure you maintain good composition throughout the shot. You don't want other objects such as light stands or even your animating camera to accidentally obstruct the view of your time-lapse camera as it moves.
When animating simple stop motion, you can often do everything in one go without a single mistake. But when you start experimenting with more complex concepts, you inevitably mess up every once in a while.
Of course, it's all perfectly normal to miscalculate when animating. But keep in mind that your mistakes will show up in the final time-lapse. And if you commit enough of them, you'll ruin the illusion of smooth movement you wish to achieve in your BTS time-lapse.
To avoid this issue, some animators capture their time-lapse frame by frame. In other words, they use a remote to trigger their time-lapse camera at the right moment. That way, if they commit a mistake, it won't show up in the final behind-the-scenes video.
Admittedly, this method is quite tedious, especially if you need to focus on animating intricate movements. But if you're eager to create a flawless time-lapse of you doing animation, this is an option to consider.
Alternative to the animated timelapse
If capturing your time-lapse manually seems too much (and it is!), you can instead consider editing out the frames in your time-lapse where you messed up. This method still requires some post-prod work. But at least you get to focus on doing animation instead of fumbling with your time-lapse camera remote while working.
If you choose this method, we suggest using your camera's interval timer shooting instead of the time-lapse mode. Both modes produce time-lapse.
But the difference is between interval shooting and time-lapse is that interval timer shooting saves the individual frames into your memory card, which you then stitch together in post.
On the other hand, the time-lapse mode automatically creates a video file that you can play right away. It may be quicker, but the downside is that you don't have the individual files to edit later.
So if you want a cleaner time-lapse, choose interval timer shooting instead. That way, you have access to the individual frames, which you can easily remove once you start editing.
Timelapse may be easy to do, but it's also easy to mess up if you're not careful--especially since you can't move it once it starts shooting. So keep the tips we just taught you in mind to guarantee the best results every time!