Once you have imported your time-lapse into Adobe After Effects, it is time to add some movement to it. What parameters would you need to adjust to add some simple movement to your time-lapse shot? In this video, author Keith Kiska walks you through adding movement to a time-lapse sequence in After Effects.
- Now that we have imported our time lapse, let's take a look at what kind of movement we want to add to our static time lapse. So for this first example, I went ahead and I organized all of my assets in the bin over here very nicely. And what I did was I set up some comps to get us started off. So here's our first composition. We're going to be adding a movement from a static time lapse sequence. Now, we're going to go ahead and find our already pre-imported time lapse right in here which I already pre-imported all them at 24 frames per second.
And our DC time lapse is right here. And first we're just going to go ahead and drag this right into the timeline. And there we go. And first of all, we're going to notice that obviously the scale of the time lapse itself is much bigger than our 1080 comp window. We're going to go ahead and click on the edge of the time lapse and hold Shift to constrain the scale properties, and we're going to zoom that right down to fit. And there we go, and zoom in a little bit, okay. So there's a couple of things we're going to fix right off the bat. We notice that it's a little bit crooked, so we're going to go ahead and do a negative one on the rotation, and that straightens out a little bit.
And sometimes, too, in the beginning of the time lapse, we will have a couple of messed up frames that won't exactly be correct, like that. We were just getting our exposure correct and doing a couple of other things that usually we get rid of during the processing aspect, we usually trim those out of the time lapse folder, but sometimes we forget to. So let's go ahead and find where the time lapse starts, right there, and we're going to click on the layer itself and we're going to hold down Option and Bracket, and that will trim the time lapse sequence.
And we'll bring it down to the beginning. Okay, perfect. And now we have what looks like a pretty solid time lapse to start off with. So the next thing we're going to do is take a look at what we have to work with. As you can see, we have a lot of room to work with on the top and bottom. And if we're going to be applying some movement, might as well try to use up some of that real estate, so let's maybe start out at the top. Now, we can go down to our layer right here, and click on P for Position Key Frame, or just use the twirl down to be able to see all of your key frames.
I'm going to go ahead and adjust our window to give us a little more room. And we're going to go to the beginning of our timeline by pressing J, and we're going to set a position key frame. And that's where we want our shot to start from. Let's go ahead to the end of our work comp area, and click on the layer itself. Hold Shift to constrain the movement left to right, or vertically, and this way it won't go about like that, it'll just go straight up while you're holding shift.
And there we go. Or also if you'd like to just go to the position key frame right here and just adjust like that. And there we have it, a very simple position key frame. Now let's go back to the beginning and a nice grand preview and see how that looks. Very nice, so we have some nice movement in the actual time lapse itself, and our added movement just adds a little bit of that something extra that we were looking for. Very simple static time lapse with some motion applied to it. Okay, so let's add some more key frames. Let's maybe mess with the scale.
Now, we can go ahead and add some scale key frames in addition to the position key frames, but for this sake I'm just going to go ahead and delete these position key frames by clicking on the stopwatch and erasing them altogether. I'm going to go ahead and start out at the beginning. Maybe I want to do a nice zoom in to it, a slow zoom in. So let's go ahead and click our scale key frame right there in the beginning, and go to the end of our work area by pressing K, and go over here to the key frame, add another key frame, and let's zoom up a little bit.
Also, instead of going here in the key frame, we could have just scaled up, and it will automatically create a key frame. Okay, so it's all grand previewed, and as you can see we have a nice slow and subtle movement. Now what happens when you combine both position and scale? Let's take a look. Let's go ahead and add a position key frame again. Maybe we'll start from the top to the bottom as we zoom in, there we go. Very simple.
Next we're going to be applying some three dimensional movement to this layer. So for that, first what we're going to do, since we're going to be working in the world of 3D, we're going to make sure that our time lapse sequence is anchored correctly. So, as you can see here, let's go ahead and actually delete all our position and scale key frames. And readjust a little bit so we start off in a nice spot. And our anchor is set pretty good, let's go over here and show us our title safe. Okay, so it's pretty much dead on, and that means when we move this image around, that anchor point will keep our image locked in the center.
Okay, very good. Let's go over here and enable the 3D layer by clicking on the cube icon on the layer, and that is going to give us a couple more options for three dimension, which is X rotation, Y rotation, orientation, and these are really fun to play with. So, let's see what X rotation does, look at that. So now we can start to see that we can maybe mimic the actual effect that a wide-angled lens has on a camera when it's maybe panning from up to down. So if the camera starts up, it'll probably be distorted like that.
And as it goes down, the camera might distort the image like this. So let's go ahead and try to replicate some of the natural camera distortion we might see along with some of the position and scale key frames we've already made. So for this, we're going to go back to the beginning, and we're going to set a position, scale, and let's go ahead and and just do the X rotation for now. And let's get our shot to where we want it to start, so let's say we want to start it up high, and let's add some of that wide-angled distortion.
Let's increase the scale a little bit just so we fix some of that, the image falls off, okay, so that pretty much looks like it would look like if the camera was pointed upwards. And let's go to K to jump to the end, and let's go ahead and click on the layer and shift to constrain, and drag down, and now let's adjust the X rotation. Let's get it as even as we can, there we go.
Okay, let's scale up a little bit. Very nice. Now let's go back to the beginning and give that a grand preview. Okay, so let's check it out, and as you can see, it looks pretty cool. It very much mimics what you would see if an actual wide-angled camera was shooting that. Very nice. So now, that was just simply doing it with key frames on the layer itself. Now, there's another way to do this, which is adding a camera.
This is a lot of fun. We're going to go ahead and delete these key frames, and reset everything. There we go. And we'll go ahead and fix that Z rotation again, negative one. Okay, so now we're going to go ahead and and go to Layer, New, Camera. And these settings can get pretty complicated. I find that what After Effects automatically sets is usually pretty much works and doesn't affect anything.
Okay, so there we go. A camera was added, nothing was affected, and let's go ahead into the Camera, twirl down, Transform. And go to the beginning of our timeline. The only key frames we really want to use here are Point of Interest and Position, so let's go ahead and click on Point of Interest and set a key frame, and Position, okay. Now, let's first of all see what we have to work with. The best thing about the camera tool is that just by pressing C, you are able to really start having some fun and seeing all of the possibilities of how you can move this thing around.
Okay, press C again, and you can move left to right. Press C again, in and out. So there's a lot of options that we can do. And it's as simple as this, so you go to the Start, and let's do anything we want. Let's start out right here and go to the end, and move it around a little bit, and a little bit of a zoom out. A little bit of a pan down. And let's go back to the beginning and take a look.
Not very realistic, but as you can see, it was very quick, very simple, and the tool itself is very fun to use, which is why I like using cameras, as opposed to sometimes just using a standard just setting the key frames on the actual layer. So a lot of times when we're doing digital moves like this in After Effects on a time lapse that was shot on location, what we're trying to do is we're trying to add in movement that doesn't look false, and in doing so we have to really understand how a camera actually works on location.
So when a camera truly on location pans up, it does add a little bit of distortion. Now, usually we think the distortion's bad, we try to eliminate it, but if we're trying, if we're adding effects in post, one of the biggest things we want to do is try to make sure those effects don't look fake. And one of the tricks I like to do is actually add a little bit of those imperfections, which is really what's useful for this camera tool is you can really add in some imperfections of a wide-angled lens. And some people think they're imperfections, some don't, but either way, when you mimic what happens live on location, it's much more difficult for the audience to see that that clearly was a special effect done.
And honestly, with After Effects, that's really the trick, to hide what we're doing and create the illusion.
- Adding 3D motion to static shots
- Enhancing motion in motion shots
- Creating a HyperZoom in time-lapse shots
- Adding text to shots
- Compositing natural skies or background elements
- Compositing foreground elements for motion or depth of field
- Removing unwanted elements from shots