Tutorial: How to Remove the Staccato Effect from Timelapse Photography

Any photographer who’s ever taken on the challenge of creating a timelapse video is all too familiar with the flickering, staggered staccato effect. Caused by shutter speeds that are too quick to properly capture the motion in between frames, the illusion of jumping or skipping can take the realism out of even the most extraordinary scenes.

Of course, the easiest way of avoiding this issue would be to slow down the shutter speed. This could be done by applying a neutral density filter to a lens or by closing down the camera’s aperture. However, there will always be situations where these precautions either aren’t possible or aren’t enough to cut down on staccato.

Luckily, you don’t have to abandon footage that’s less than perfect. Using both Adobe Premiere and After Effects, Preston Kanak reveals several different techniques sure to smooth things over:

Sometimes, the solution is as simple as applying a corrective filter or making a few minor tweaks to setting sliders. Other times, carefully stacking layers and artificially creating movement is a more effective approach. In truth, there is no fix-all solution that can be guaranteed mend any problematic clip. Certain strategies produce certain outcomes, and some of the techniques Kanak shares may work better than others depending on the scenario. In the tutorial, he does a thorough job of highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of working with each smoothing technique, going into detail about the time commitment and adjustments necessary to produce the best final outcome.

timelapse with and without staccato

Determining which course of action is correct is simply a matter of weighing out factors. A bit of experimentation is a necessary evil when striving for the best footage possible. Often times, the realism in movement that burgeoning cinematographers seek comes from combining different strategies in a single composition.

Regardless of what strategy produces the best result for you and your work, the information Kanak provides is sure to have you testing new techniques that will bring you one step closer to mastering the art of timelapse.

“Finding ways to improve the way in which I work with my timelapse footage as well as ways to create unique looks is a huge passion of mine. Whether through refining the look and feel or total experimentation, this desire definitely keeps me on my toes.”

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