I have been doing quite a bit of time-lapsing recently and have finally worked out a good work flow; so I thought I would write a post about it to save anyone else time in the future in my situation. This guide will tell you how to shoot a time-lapse using your DSLR and import it into Adobe premiere pro via Virtualdub to remove flicker.
I am shooting my initial images using a canon DSLR and a intervalometer. When shooting it is important to make sure that focus, aperture, white balance and ISO are manually set. For short time-lapses you can also set the shutter speed manually, but for longer periods it is necessary to set the camera to aperture priority. I normally do not use raw for time-lapse since the final output resolution and compression is relatively low, therefore the much larger file-size makes relatively little difference. Make sure the camera is solid and well supported, when shooting with longer lenses I use the mirror lock-up feature to help reduce shake.
Once the the images have been transferred to your editing PC split up each separate shot into it’s own folder. If your photos do not have an ordered numerical suffix select them all, right click the first image, and rename it suitably. All the other images will be numbered sequentially.
You will need to download the 32bit version of VirtualDub (the 64 bit version doesn’t support the MSU de-flicker plugin) as well as the MSU deflicker filter. Extract and place the plugin filter files in the plugins folder and then launch the VirtualDub.exe file.
From the file menu select open video file and navigate to the folder containing your still images; select the first file and ensure that automatically load linked segments is ticked at the bottom of the window; click open.
Your first shot should appear on screen, right click the image and resize until you can see both the input and output video pane. Under the video menu select filters (or hit ctrl +F) click add and select the resize option; specify the dimension you want to export. Normally the images from the DSLR are at least 10 megapixels, this size is not necessary for HD video and unless you plan on digitally panning and zooming on the shot resizing the images now saves a lot of space. Be careful not to modify the aspect ratio of the footage as you resize. In the filters window click add again and select MSU deflicker the default settings work okay, but you can play around with them to see if you can make any improvements.
Click ok to exit the filters window, you are now ready to export the sequence to Premiere Pro. In the file menu select export > image sequence, for shorter clips you can select lossless Targa but for anything over 300 shots I generally choose Jpeg 90%. Name your file and create a folder to save the image set in; click ok when done. The render should take a couple of minutes, normally for Jpeg sequences the projected file size is listed as much higher than the actual size, this is a bug within Virtual dub.
You can now close VirtualDub and open up Premiere. Open up your timelapse project and set-up a sequence into which you can import your time lapse. For this example I have created a 1920*1080 24p project. Under the file menu select import and navigate to the folder in which you saved the output sequence from VirtualDub, select the first image and tick the numbered stills box. If you are unable to tick the box there is a problem with your file numbering. The time-lapse will now be listed in the project items list as footage, right click the file and select interpret footage, the default frame rate can be incorrect so enter the same frame rate as the sequence into which the time-lapse is going to be put. You can now use the footage in your project, if your time lapse resolution is different to your project you may want to zoom out using the options in the effects tab.
Here is a video showing the time lapse from above, I have included a section with and without the MSU deflicker filtered applied to show it’s effectiveness. Only a slight filtering was applied for this clip as there is a large amount of foreground movement.