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How To Make a Timelapse in After Effects

Liza Brown
Liza Brown Originally published Nov 14, 22, updated Mar 27, 24

Time-Lapse movies are great for a variety of projects; you can use them as establishing shots in sitcoms, corporate marketing videos, and they can make lovely backgrounds for animated slideshows. A time-lapse video is essentially a series of photographs taken at regular intervals to depict how the environment changes gradually over a shorter period of time. In this article, we'll demonstrate how you may quickly and easily build an After Effects time-lapse effect.

With that said, let's start!

In this article
  1. Step 1. Create a new composition
  2. Step 2. Import your images
  3. Step 3. Create movements
  4. Step 4. Create slow motion from a video
  5. Step 5. Make an overlay
  6. Step 6. Exporting your video

Step 1. Create a new composition

Calculating your composition length to accommodate the frame rate and number of images is the first step in generating a time-lapse video.

  1. Verify the number of images you have for your Sequence.
  2. New Composition Creation. Selecting a frame rate: A time lapse film produced at 30 frames per second will flow smoothly, but you can select any frame rate you like.
  3. To determine the duration of your composition, divide the number of photographs you have by the frame rate you've chosen. For instance, if you use 600 photos at 30 frames per second, your composition will last 20 seconds.

Step 2. Import your images

You are prepared to make a time-lapse sequence if all of your photographs are saved to the same folder and are in the same order. If you are working directly from your Camera, you will likely have Camera Raw files, although this procedure works with PNG and JPEG sequences.

  1. Press Command/Control I on your keyboard or select File > Import. Find the folder holding your image sequence.
  2. To begin, select the first picture in the sequence. If all of your images have accurate names, After Effects will be able to identify a sequence of images.
  3. Make sure the Force Alphabetical Order and Camera Raw Sequence checkboxes are selected. Your Time-Lapse Sequence will display in the Project Browser Panel after you click Import.
  4. Once you've watched how it plays, you can adjust the Frame Rate by right-clicking the Sequence in the Project Browser and selecting Interpret Footage > Main.
  5. To update your time-lapse, modify the Frame Rate setting and click OK.
import images into after effects

Step 3. Create movements

  1. After Effects' Time-Lapse Sequence can be used just like any other standalone clip. This implies that you may give your time-lapse clip movement by adding Keyframes and Effects.
  2. Place your Playhead at the beginning of the clip after choosing the Image Sequence. Make a keyframe for the scale or position.
  3. To generate a second Keyframe for the value of your choice, move to the end of the clip. Make any necessary Clip modifications.
  4. Right-click on the timeline, choose New > Adjustment Layer, then add your effects to the Adjustment Layer to add effects like noise and grain.

Step 4. Create slow motion from a video

You can import your video after you've shot it to prepare it for editing. The same steps, including naming your photos in order, must be taken for the Time Lapse sequence. It may be advantageous to entirely rename both your Image Sequence and Performer clip.

  1. Drag the finished Time Lapse sequence to your Timeline after completing it as previously explained.
  2. Over the Time Lapse, add the Performer Clip to the Timeline.
  3. Choose Time>Time Stretch by performing a right-click on the performer clip.
  4. You can alter the Stretch Factor or Duration in the dialogue box. When you alter one parameter, the other will reflect the new Stretch Factor or Duration for you.

Step 5. Make an overlay

You can alter the Stretch Factor or Duration in the dialogue box. When you alter one parameter, the other will reflect the new Stretch Factor or Duration for you.

  1. Find Luma Key in the Effect Control Panel and drag it to your clip.
  2. Change the Key Type setting in the Effect Control Panel to Key Out Brighter.
  3. The Threshold, Tolerance, and Edge settings should be adjusted until only the silhouette is visible.
  4. Use the Pen or Mask Tool to create a circle around the parts you want to delete if you discover any corners of your clip that are still visible.
  5. Add any Effects, such as Light Leaks, to your Adjustment Layer by choosing "Right-click > New > Adjustment layer."
make an overlay after effects

After Effects CC must be opened, a new project must be created, the Import File menu option must be selected, and the appropriate folder containing the altered still images must be located and selected before the time-lapse photos can be turned into a film. You need to make sure that the JPEG Series box is checked, as well as the Force Alphabetical Order box.

Once you have clicked on the first image in the sequence. The time-lapse video that you uploaded appears in the project library. After performing a right-click on the filename, select "New Comp from Selection" from the context menu.

Step 6. Exporting your video

After getting our sequence to perform some kind of slow, understated animation so that it appears as though the camera is moving dramatically, we will need to export a video file. Go to File > Export > Add to Render Queue, then open the Render Queue dialog box by going to Window > Render Queue. From there, you can choose the Output Module and change the settings in the options dialog box. Finally, choose the Output To option and select the location on your computer where you would like to save the video clip that we are currently rendering and exporting.

add to render queue after effects


No matter how you make your time lapse videos, After Effects has a ton of features you can use to modify and enhance the way they look. Now that you are familiar with the fundamentals, you can play with the Frame Rates and Composition options. Check out this helpful manual for more information on Time Stretching and Remapping in After Effects.

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Liza Brown
Liza Brown Mar 27, 24
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