Another effective science presentation tool is time-lapse photography. Displaying a series of images taken over a long period can provide a dimension of visualization that your audience will appreciate. You can include them in presentations, blog posts, website media, and even publication supplemental material. There are a couple of different time-lapse categories: one is many images over a short period of time, creating either a fluid “sped-up-video” or “stop motion” effect; another is very long time-lapse (seasons to years) that can be beneficial when evaluating slower-moving processes. There are many tools available that allow time-lapse production, so I will just hit the highlights here and show some examples. For ease of viewing I’ve converted all to Youtube.

Time-Lapse Cameras

Time-Lapse Assembly

Quite a few software tools exist for building time-lapse animations. Output format is probably the most important thing to consider. You don’t want a reduction in quality, and at the same time you want to optimize file size. You want the resulting file to be viewable on as many platforms as possible without users needing to download a separate plug-in or software player.

I’ve produced animated GIFs for Powerpoint presentation, but honestly these days all computers should be capable of playing back standard Windows Media (.WMV) or Apple Quicktime (.MOV) format files. Both of these are relatively easy to produce, depending on your operating system, and the final quality/size can usually be changed during the export process. Youtube.com will of course be able to read these in and convert them to their standard online video format for easy sharing.

When producing a time-lapse video from still frames, once again Adobe Photoshop is quite good at this, and will yield impressive results. There are of course Open-Source tools available as well. So, give this production style a try in your science photography/media development, you won’t be sorry you did!

Field Photography Part V: time-lapses
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