Time-lapse With the Panasonic HC-V750 Camcorder
Time-lapse videos can be magical, bringing things to life that normally seem static and motionless. With time-lapse, you can see plants grow, watch storm clouds form in the sky and reveal the activity of slow moving creatures. Time-lapse can also turbocharge the motion of things that don't normally seem motionless, allowing you to understand rush hour traffic patterns or condense an entire day's event into a few minutes.
The Panasonic HC-V750 camcorder is a great choice for people who want basic time-lapse functionality with a few options to control the effect. It seems to me that the HC-V750 will meet the needs of most consumers and "pro-sumers", however professional time-lapse videographers may want to look elsewhere.
This article describes how time-lapse works and how you can use the Panasonic HC-V750 camcorder to create time-lapse videos. The sample video at the end includes time-lapse scenes made with the different frame rate options available the HC-V750 as well as directions for navigating the HC-V750's menu system to turn on and setup time-lapse mode.
How Does It Work?
Basically, the time lapse function records a scene at a lower frame rate. Then, when you play the video back at the regular frame rate, the motion of the scene appears to be sped up. It's basically the opposite of slow motion recording.
Most camcorders record at either thirty or sixty frames per second (roughly). Let's call that the regular frame rate. But what if the camera recorded the video at, say, one frame per second (fps)? When you play that video back at 60 fps, the motion in the scene will appear to be sped up sixty times. Why? Because in the scene that you recorded, one frame is equal to one second. Playing it back at sixty frames per second means that you're now seeing it at sixty seconds per second or one minute per second.
Here's a quick demonstration of a time-lapse recorded at rate of 1 frame per second. Watching an ice cube melt in real time is as boring as it gets, but speed up the motion and it could be a scene from the movie adaptation of H. G. Wells' "The Time Machine"!
Options Are Good
If you're interested in making time lapse videos, then I recommend that you buy a camcorder with multiple frame rate options for time lapse recording. The key to good time-lapse videography is setting the right speed of the time-lapse. No single frame rate will work for all scenes. Being able to record at different frame rates gives you the flexibility to dial in the right speed. It turns out that it's hard to estimate what the right speed is, so having frame rate options will also give you the ability to easily experiment with different frame rates while out in the field.
The HC-V750 has five frame rate options for time lapse recording ranging from one frame every second to one frame every two minutes.
With these options, the fastest lime lapse speed available to you is 120 times faster than the slowest time lapse speed. Note that the HC-V750 can only record time lapse when in the AVCHD recording format.
Strictly speaking, you don't need a time-lapse function in your camera to make time-lapse videos. If you have access to even the most basic video editing application, then you can simply record the scene at the regular frame rate and then speed it up in post-production. That will certainly work, but there is a major drawback to this approach: the size of your recorded video!
The amount of real time that will elapse while you're recording a video with your camera's time-lapse function is much longer than the length of the resulting video. For example, a timelapse that captures a sunrise from darkness to full brightness can take an hour or more. Recording that sunrise on the HC-V750 camcorder, which records at 28 Mbps in AVCHD mode, will make a file that's... really big!
Also consider that many cameras will break long videos into multiple files. Working with multiple large files can make video editing more difficult. Using the timelapse function in your camcorder will likely result in a single, smaller file which will make your post production work much easier.
Video editing software can also help you fine tune the speed of a scene's motion in the final product if you didn't get it quite right in the field. This works best when speeding up the motion rather than slowing it down because slowing down the motion often means dropping the video's frame rate below the regular frame rate of 30 or 60 fps (roughly).
Sample HC-V750 Time-Lapse Clips
The video below shows sample time-lapse recordings at different frame rates using the Panasonic HC-V750 Camcorder. Scenes include dawn and daytime skies, cars, airplanes and golfers in and around the Phoenix, AZ area. The end of the video shows step by step screen shots of navigating the HC-V750 menus to turn on and setup time-lapse recording.
The HC-V750 used to make this video was purchased in 2014. The actual model number is HC-V750K. Later models of this camera and cameras with similar model numbers may function differently.
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