Mustang Time Lapse Video Revisited

by on December 20, 2009

in Nikon

Some of you may recall the above time lapse video from the dash view of my Ford Mustang as part of my review time with the Nikon D5000.  The D5000 offers an interval shooting mode that you can set up directly in the camera without tethering to a computer, which is required for the Canon counterpart.  The original post is here and here’s the full Nikon D5000 Review.

I have had a few questions lately about the details of the settings I used and thought I’d take the time to revisit the setup here.

When I was dialing in my settings, I wanted to make sure that the sense of speed was consistent throughout the video.  That means when I slowed down, I want the images to convey that I was slowing down.  Likewise, if I was going faster, I wanted lots of light blur from the street lights and cars seen through the car window.  As a result, the only way to maintain that consistency was to keep the shutter speed constant.  I did some test shooting to see what I liked and settled on o.8 seconds as my exposure time in Shutter-priority mode.

While I probably didn’t have to set ISO quite this high, I opted for the max setting of ISO 6400, which assured me that even in the darker sections of the road that I drove on would get a balanced exposure.  Because of the variations in the lighting throughout the various scenes, I got a wide range of aperture settings.  This is because I had locked in the other two exposure variables – Shutter speed and ISO.  For most of the shots though, the aperture ranged from f/11 to f/18.

I used matrix metering to account for the lights on the dashboard and the lights outside the car in each image.  I thought the D5000 did a bang-up job of creating the scenes that I was looking for.

Because I was not going to edit any of these files (I was going to shoot several hundred), I shot in JPEG Large, which put the file size around 3MB or so.  I also turned Active D-Lighting on Auto and High ISO Noise Reduction was turned on as well.  I didn’t really need a lot of detail as much as I just wanted to paint with light.  I wasn’t going to look at the files at 100% and certainly wasn’t going to make prints from them.  All I needed was something I could stitch together to create a video, which would be viewed at a max resolution of 1080p, but in reality most viewing would be in a video box about 600px wide or so.  At that size, the noise at ISO 6400 isn’t really noticeable, particularly with NR turned on.  The Large JPEG files provide much more resolution than what I really needed.

I ended up with about 2100 images that I assembled using Windows Movie Maker.  I dropped some frames where there was a significantly delay at red lights and set the frame rate to display each image for 0.13 seconds in order to convey the sense of speed I was after.

I asked my good friend Dave if I could borrow his song Endless Road for the video.  Thanks Dave.  You can check out The Coal Men here.  They’ve got a new album out now too.  As with all the previous albums, it rocks.

I hope that answers everyone’s questions, but if you have additional ones, please drop them in the comments and I’ll be happy to try to give you the answers you are looking for.

And, Ford, if you’d like me to put together something for the 2011 Mustang, you know where to find me.

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