Featured Image

Raw Timelapse Workflow

I remember it well. The sun was high in the bright blue expanse, bees drifted from flower to flower, and twitter was abuzz. It seems with a quiet boom Vimeo had exploded with this “new” thing: Timelapses. So, like everyone else I bought an intervalometer, set my camera to JPEG, and from then on golden sunsets were captured in all of their splendor. Clouds sweeping my backyard were encased in my magical box. Yet, I was still unhappy. There was a void in me, in my pictures. That void was a raw workflow.


So almost anyone who has ever manipulated a raw photograph (or video now in this day in age) would tell you it is better than a Jpeg. Now Jpeg is great for some applications, but we aren’t here to discuss those; instead, I want to introduce you to my workflow for timelapses using raw photographs. Why would I want to shoot it Raw? For those who do not know I want to sum up the fundamental difference between Raw and Jpeg (in camera). When you camera produces a Jpeg it is making all of the alterations into what the camera believes is the best looking image. That means your camera is applying the contrast settings, your white balance, etc etc etc. With raw, you as the photographer get to make those determinations and a raw file is much more forgiving when manipulated.

Now there are a few other workflows out there that will let you create timelapse material from raw files. The most popular workflow is spoken about here thanks to Kessler University.


With such great workflows out there, including the one previously linked to, why am I bothering mentioning my own workflow? Not everyone has or will understand After Effects, but most photographers have Lightroom and Quicktime Pro is inexpensive in comparison ($30).


Step 01: Open Lightroom and make your new catalogue.

Step 02: Import all of your raw photos into Lightroom.

Step 03: Edit the first photo to your liking.

Step 04: Once you have made adjustments you are happy with, right click on the photo you edited. Go to “Develop Settings” and select “Copy Settings.” When a dialogue box pops up, select “Copy” to keep everything uniform.

Step 05: Now Select All (cmd+A) on a Mac or (ctrl+A) on windows. When all your files are selected right click above them, return to “Develop Settings”  and select “Paste Settings.”

Step 06: Export Jpegs from Lightroom.

Step 07: Open Quicktime 7. Under “File” select “Open Image Sequence.” From here select only the first file in the folder containing your edited Jpegs. Then click “Open.”

Step 08: Choose your frame rate. Since most of my footage is shot/edited in 23.976 that is the frame rate that I choose. 24fps is universal for it is the frame rate that Motion Film is captured at. What’s best for you depends on your needs and also your region (NTSC vs PAL).

Step 09: Export.

suggested settings

suggested settings for exporting timelapses

For those unfamiliar with Export settings and are just wanting to upload these timelapses online for personal use here are the settings I would recommend. Leave export as: “Movie to Quicktime Movie” and select the “Option” button. From there go to “Settings” and “Compression Type.” Change that to “.h264″ if not already selected. Set your frame rate to “Current” so it knows to use the frame rate you chose at the beginning. After selecting “OK” click the “Size” button and select ” HD 1920 x 1080 16x:9.”  This should give you the highest quality video you would need for some time.


This workflow works amazing for me but may not be for everyone. What did you think? Do you have a workflow you have found that is more efficient? I love to hear new ways of accomplishing tasks so feel free to share in the comments below.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>