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Manipulating Time…

I’ve gotten some questions lately about how to do Time Lapse shots with Adobe tools. There’s actually a fantastic way of recording Time Lapse directly off your DV/DVCPRO/HDV camera using a laptop computer and OnLocation.

Start by launching OnLocation, and connect your camera to your laptop via FireWire. If your camera isn’t automatically recognized, right-click anywhere in OnLocation, choose Devices, and choose your camcorder from the list.

Starting a timelapse clip is easy – just push the red record button that has a clock face on it, found here:


By default, the time lapse option will record 1 frame per second, but you can customize that rate very easily. Click the Menu button on the Field Monitor, and look for a value called TmLps Frequency, shown here:


Altering this number will do different things depending on the native frame rate of the signal you are working with. The number refers to the amount of frames to skip before recording another frame. So, for example, this will mean different record rates if you are working with a 30fps video signal vs a 60fps video signal. The best way to determine the rate is to use the charts found in the Help menu, which I’ve replicated here:

Frame Rate DV.jpg

Use the above chart if you are working with DV or DVCPROHD signals to determine frame rates. So for example, if I was working with an NTSC signal being recorded at 30fps, and I wanted to record a frame every 15 seconds, I’d set the value to 450. To record 1 frame a minute, I’d set it for 1800.

With HDV, there are slightly fewer choices because of the long-GOP nature of HDV. Here’s the chart for HDV:

Frame Rate HDV.jpg

In most circumstances, OnLocation only records the I-Frames from the HDV signal, resulting in a slightly larger file size than a typical HDV file of the same duration.

Normally, OnLocation will keep recording time-lapse footage as long as there’s hard drive space. However, it’s possible to set a recording limit in the menu. If the TmLpse Net Frames setting is set to a value other than 0, OnLocation will record frames up to the Net Frames value and stop. For example, if I set the Net Frames value to 360, it will record 360 frames, and stop automatically.

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