A time-lapse video perfectly captures something that changes slowly, but dramatically, like a flower opening. If you have the patience and the time, you might consider creating a time-lapse video of a home renovation or decorating project to show to clients.
All you need is a digital camera, a tripod or steady surface, a computer, and Microsoft’s free Window’s Movie Maker, or other movie-making software.
The first step is taking the photos, and this is the part that may take a while. Depending on the subject, you may snap anywhere from a dozen to 1,000 photos. Find a specific location to set the camera (tripod or sturdy surface) and make sure you take each picture from exactly that spot. It’s recommended to leave the camera where it is between shots. The project will determine how often you take a picture. How quickly is the renovation moving along? Is one photo every 24 hours enough, or every 12 hours? You might even need to take a picture every hour. If that’s the case, it’s worth looking at your camera’s capabilities to discover if there’s a way to set the timer to go off at specific intervals.
Save all the photos in one folder, separate from any other photos.
Now, the easiest way to make these photos into a movie is to use Windows Movie Maker. It may already be installed on your computer. Look under the accessories menu under Programs on the Start Menu. If it’s not there, you can download it for free.
Once you’ve started up Windows Movie Maker, import all your photos. In Windows XP, click on Import Pictures under Capture Video in the left-hand pane. In Windows Vista, you'll click on Pictures under the Tasks and Import headings. In the dialog that appears, navigate to the folder where you saved your photos and select them all--a quick shortcut is to click on the first one and then press Ctrl+A--then click the Import button. Movie Maker will load all of them into the center pane.
Now choose your frame rate. Go to the Tools menu and click on Options, and then on the Advanced tab. The picture duration field controls how long each photo will be shown. The lowest you can go with Movie Maker is .125, which translates to about 1/8 of a second or eight frames per second. You can adjust the rate up by eighths by clicking the up and down arrows. When you’re finished, click OK
Now, add your photos to the storyboard. Select them all then drag them to the box in the bottom left corner of the screen. This may take a while if you have 1,000 photos. When you’re finished, you’ll see all the photos lined up at the bottom of your screen.
Now you can preview your video by pressing play!
If it’s too fast or slow, the easiest way to fix it is to drag your pictures out of the storyboard, change the picture duration under Options again, then redrag your photos back to the storyboard.
Once you’re happy with the pace, it’s easy to add music, titles and credits.
Final steps: finish and save. In Windows XP you'll use the commands under "Finish Movie" on the left. In Vista they're under "Publish to." Choose the option that matches what you want to do with the final video and follow the steps. If in doubt, choose the Computer option, which will allow you to save the movie as a file on your hard drive, with which you can then do as you please.