If you want to make a high quality 4K timelapse on your Android smartphone, you will definitely want to use the Camera FV-5 as it comes with intervalometer (that automatically takes photos for the interval you set). There are apps that make timelapse videos for you but the quality you get out of them will be nowhere near doing it this way by taking our photos then post-process them with desktop software Adobe Effects. And if your Android smartphone supports RAW images (like LG G4, OnePlus One, Nexus 5/6), you will have more control over your images in your final edit, even remove noise from low-light shots.
This is pretty much the method used by timelapse pros using DSLR cameras but the instructions are nearly identical except for the camera itself.
Step 1. You will obviously need to get a camera with an intervalometer feature, you can grab the Camera FV-5 app on Play Store for couple bucks.
Step 2. Make sure you put your phone on a tripod using smartphone mount like Reticam. You will want to make sure you phone does not move during the entire timelapse.
Go into AWB settings and set the white balance to AWB, which will make the app find the right white balance for your shot. Then go back into AWB settings and lock your white balance by hitting the lock button. This is because we are shooting sunset and the light will change from bright to dark. If we set the white balance to auto, you will end up with an array of rainbow colors in your shots which you don’t want.
Step 3. If you have a good focus point, you can use auto-focus but if you are shooting something like a sunset where your scene will eventually get pitch black dark, the phone may have hard time focusing so set it to manual or infinity for most landscape shots.
Step 4. Also make sure to set your ISO manually. For sunset, I recommend setting it much higher to compensate when the sun goes down. I set it to 800 for this sunset timelapse but I realize after making it that you may want set it even higher like 1600 or 3200.
If you are doing timelapse during the day however, you can set the ISO as low as possible so you get less noise in your shots.
Step 5. Make sure the dial is set to “P”, this will actually set your FV-5 app to shutter priority so it will automatically find the right shutter speed. If you set it to “S”, it will actually set the app to manual. I know, the app developer should fix this to be like a DSLR but this is how it is as of making this tutorial.
Step 6. Also, make sure “Allow taking a photo without focus” is checked ON so the camera will take a photo no matter what happens since we are using manual focus.
Step 7. Go into the main menu then choose “INT”.
Set the number of seconds between shots and the total number of shots you want to take. I recommend to set the number of seconds between shots to at least 10 seconds or higher as the app is not super accurate below that for some odd reason. Also set the total number of shots to something higher than your target number of shots.
To do a 10-second timelapse, you would need 300 shots as there are 30 frames in a second.
Step 8. Once you have taken all your timelapse shots, transfer them to a folder on your desktop computer then open up Adobe After Effects and choose “New Composition”.
Step 9. Set the width and height of your timelapse video to 3860 by 2160 for 4K and 1920 by 1080 for 1080P HD.
Step 10. Once you have a new composition, simply import files by going to File->Import->File.
Step 11. Choose the first image file in your timelapse. If using RAW images, choose “Camera RAW Sequence”. If using JPEG images, choose “JPEG Sequence”. Then choose “Force alphabetical order” and hit “Import”.
If using RAW image files, you can go ahead and edit them to your liking, make sure to remove noise if doing something like a sunset otherwise your final timelapse will look full of dithering.
Step 12. Drag and drop the newly imported footage into your composition.
Step 13. Re-size and re-position your footage to your liking. You have plenty of room to work with since your images are bigger than 4K resolution and this is another reason why we are using Adobe After Effects to make the timelapse so you have more flexibility.
Step 14. You can easily add virtual panning by hitting the “p” button on your keyboard. Then set the dial to your first frame and position your timelapse where you want to start panning.
Step 15. Go to the last frame then use the arrows on your keyboard to move your timelapse. Don’t move too much, otherwise your final footage will not look high quality.
Step 16. You can use the RAM preview to see what it looks like. You can also do more editing using After Effects such as color correction, stabilization, etc…etc… but I won’t cover that in this tutorial since this is a tutorial for noobs.
Once done, simply export to your favorite video format using Render Queue or Adobe Media Encoder.
That’s pretty much it, you should now be able to create DSLR-quality timelapse videos from your Android smartphone.
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