Digital Transitions Time Lapse Suite: Tools for Serious Time Lapse Shooters
Time-lapse photographers seeking to produce the highest quality imagery have long sought out Phase One hardware and Capture One software, because of their high quality and reliability. But these tools have lacked several of the specific features the most discerning time lapse photographers required. The DT Time Lapse Suite provides these features, and allow the realization of professional 12k time lapse.
The suite consists of two applications: DT Time Lapse Capture for controlling the cameras’s capture sequence and DT Time Lapse Editor for automating the laborious post processing tasks of smoothing and ramping adjustments such as exposure and white balance.
Key Features of the Suite
- Complete control of the dark frame, allowing near gapless capture
- Synchronized capture for multiple cameras
- Automatic smoothing of in-camera exposure
- Smooth ramping of adjustments in Capture One
- Automatic identification of keyframes
Sample Footage: the above was captured by Chris Pritchard, in 12k resolution, and edited using the DT Time Lapse tools.
DT Time Lapse Capture
- Dedicated, Lightweight and Stable
- Complete Control of Dark Frame
- Multi Camera Support
- Tech Camera Support
- Specific High Count Captures
- Time Lapse + Focus Stacking
- Time Lapse + Bracketing
- Nested Time Lapse
Robust and Stable
When doing very long high-count time lapse capture it’s best not to burden the capture station with the task of generating thumbnails and preview files for previously captured images. Instead of using Capture One time lapse shooters can not choose this much lighter-weight program which is very robust for extremely high quantities of sequential captures. The images are received from the camera, but no additional calculations or image management is performed, meaning no slowdown, instability, or crashes when you’re tens of thousands of captures into a shot.
Complete Control of Dark Frame
A dark frame capture is taken after the camera captures the main image. It lasts for the same amount of time as the actual exposure, and the camera cannot capture a new image during this time. It is also known as a “black cal”, “long exposure processing”, and “long exposure noise reduction”. Normally a Phase One camera captures dark frames “as needed” – namely when the ISO, shutter speed, or sensor temperature has meaningfully changed. An undesired dark frame is the bane of timelapse sequences where the shortest gap is desired between frames (e.g. for star trails).
The DT Time Lapse Suite offers complete control over dark frame behavior. It can be fully suppressed, or manually generated upon request of the user. If suppressed not even a large change in shutter speed will cause a dark frame to be captured. The current temperature of the sensor, as well as the temperature of the last recorded dark frame is provided, to help the savvy timelapse photographer decide if/when a new dark frame is warranted.
Multi Camera Support
As shown in the screen grab above DT Time Lapse Capture can connect to multiple Phase One cameras for synchronized or independent time lapse capture. All cameras are connected to the host computer by USB (or via USB to Thunderbolt Hub) and each camera gets it’s own capture subfolder. We have tested up to eight Phase One cameras with great success and the code should, in theory, support more (if your application would require more than eight simultaneous cameras please email us and we’d be glad to arrange testing). The Phase One cameras do not need to be on the same body, use the same lens lengths, or be the same model/resolution. The below video illustrates synchronized capture of six Phase One digital backs of different resolutions, mounted on different kinds of bodies.
It begins in full synchronization at a speed that all the backs can handle (models with different resolutions have different maximum shooting speeds) and at the end the period between captures is dropped further and further such that the synchronized orchestration dissolves into a cacophony of captures. If you keep the capture rate to a speed that all cameras can sustain then inter-camera synchronization will be maintained through any length of time lapse capture.
Tech Camera Support
The IQ3 100mp can also be used on the back of a tech camera like the Cambo RS or Arca R lines. This allows the use of exotic lenses like the Rodenstock 23HR or ultra-wide-lenses such as the Canon 17TS or Canon 12-24mm to be used with a 100mp full frame 645 medium format sensor (confused about focal lengths? see our focal length visualizer – 17mm on a 645 sensor is VERY wide). Many such bodies provide built-in rise/fall, shift, tilt, and swing, turning every lens into a “tilt-shift” lens (as long as it has a large enough image circle).
DT Time Lapse Capture can drive an IQ3 100mp mounted on a tech camera in the same it drives a Phase One XF IQ3 100mp kit. This allows ultra-wide field of view with fast lenses, and a wide array of lens compatibility (many Canon, Nikon, Sony, Zeiss, Hasselblad and other lenses cover, or nearly cover, 645 sensors).
Specific High Count Captures
The time lapse tool in the Phase One XF maxes out at 100 frames before jumping to infinity. Some time lapse use cases call for a preset, but very high, number of captures. For example imagine setting up a multiple camera astro time lapse in the mountains of Utah, where you want each camera to shoot until dawn, but the cameras are far enough apart that it will take a few hours to get to each camera at the end of the shoot. Rather than set them to infinite captures, you can leave each one to capture 4800 frames (6″ captures for 8 hours) and then automatically go to sleep.
When used with the Phase One XF camera body DT Time Lapse Capture can combine time lapse with focus stacking.
By combining time lapse with focus stacking 8k-12k footage can be created with infinite depth of field. Each time the camera is triggered it will capture a full focus stack sequence. Using sequence IDs and process recipe tokens these can then be batch processed to a time lapse sequence with increased depth of field.
When used with the Phase One XF camera body DT Time Lapse Capture can combine time lapse with exposure bracketing.
The dynamic range of a Phase One digital back is already very high. However, when shooting in exceptionally contrasty scenes it can be useful to capture a bracket of exposures each time the camera is meant to capture. These can either be merged, or you can switch mid-sequence from using a darker exposure to the brighter exposure (or vice versa) and use the DT Time Lapse Editor to smooth out the transition there between.
Nested Time Lapse
When used with the Phase One XF camera body DT Time Lapse Capture can executed a nested time lapse (a time lapse of time lapses).
This unusual option allows you to initiate a nested time lapse sequence each time the camera is triggered. For example you could have a time lapse that triggers the camera once per hour, but every time it triggers it captures a sequence of one image per second for a minute. The end result would be a time lapse that shows one minute from every hour.
DT Time Lapse Editor
- Tag EXIF Changes (in-camera exposure changes)
- Patch EXIF Changes (Auto Smoother)
- Tag Adjusted (find manual interventions made in C1)
- Absolute Batch Modifications
- Batch Ramp Modifications
- Smooth Modifications
- Less Than Minimum Changes
- Wide Range of Supported Adjustments
- Efficient Bulk Changes
Tag EXIF Changes / Patch EXIF Changes
There are several strategies for capturing time lapse. If the scene lighting is not expected to vary much it is reasonable to use a fully manual exposure. But when doing day-to-night scenes other changing-light time lapse the user will have to manually adjust the exposure, or use aperture priority mode. In either case the resulting jumps in exposure need to be smoothed out in post.
The Tag EXIF Changes tool quickly identifies which frames have a different Shutter Speed or ISO than the image before it. Having these frames tagged can ease manual intervention such as smoothing, absolute changes, or ramping.
The Patch EXIF Changes goes further, automatically smoothing out these jumps in in-camera exposure settings by ramping between them using Exposure. So if the first 100 frames were shot at 1″ f/8 ISO50 and image 101 was shot at 2″ f/8 ISO50 this tool will ramp 0.01 stops on each frame on the 100 frames preceding the change. Here is a before/after example of the “Patch EXIF Changes” tool used for both ISO and Shutter Speed on a dawn to dusk capture by Chris Pritchard. No other adjustments or manual interventions have been made; after opening the session a total of two clicks were required (select all > patch exposure: “go”).
Tag Adjusted (find manual interventions made in C1)
Often manual intervention is required when color grading a long time lapse sequence, especially for day-to-night transitions or weather pattern changes. The user may peruse a large capture sequence looking for specific points to intervene and nudge, for example, the white balance. After such perusing it’s useful to be able to quickly identify all frames that were adjusted. This feature does just that. The user can then use the Smooth or Ramp functions to handle the frames in between the manual interventions.
Absolute Batch Modifications
Capture One already has tools to sync (copy/paste) a specific setting from one image to a sequence of images. But this replaces the current value entirely. Occasionally it is useful to add or remove a value to the adjustment an entire sequence. For example if you have already hand-tuned and smoothed the white balance for a 10,000 image sequence such that it starts at 5000 k and ends at 6000 k with a smooth ramp for most of the sequence followed by a faster ramp as the sun rises at the end of the scene. Now say you decide the entire sequence is too warm and you want to knock 500 k off of every frame. Adjusting the first frame to 4500 k and copy-pasting will not accomplish this goal; it will instead make every frame exactly 4500 k. The Absolute tool in DT Time Lapse Editor could be used to subtract 500 kelvin from every frame, so that the relative adjustments that were already present are maintained.
Batch Ramp Modifications
Selecting a range of images and using the Ramp function will cumulatively increase (or decrease) the selected adjustment on each subsequent frame. For example a White Balance kelvin ramp of 2 points on a sequence of 100 images will add 2 points to the first image, 4 points to the second image, 6 points to the third image, 8 points to the fourth image and so on. Note that the values are added/subtracted from the value currently on the file, so if a sequence has been smoothed using Patch EXIF Changes it can still be ramped, the changes made to smooth the sequence will be the starting point and the ramp will be applied on top.
Selecting a range of images and using the Smooth function will replace the adjusted values for all in-between frames to linearly ramp from the adjustment of the first image to the adjustment of the second image.
Less Than Minimum Changes
The user interface of Capture One provides for a certain number of digits for each adjustment. If the user types “0.04” in the exposure adjustment in Capture One it is exactly adhered to, but if the user types “0.004” or “0.046” those entries will be rounded to 0.00 and 0.05 respectively. This is more than precise enough for general commercial photography (when have you ever complained that an image was 0.001 stops too bright?) but in time lapse editing it is often very helpful to ramp a small adjustment over a large number of images. For example when smoothing out the frames leading up to a 1/3rd stop change in shutter speed on the camera it may be the case that you want to spread a 0.3333 stop exposure ramp over the 500 images that led up to it; that requires ramping the exposure 0.0006666 stops per image, for less than the 0.01 rounding of exposure in Capture One’s user interface. Or perhaps you want to shift the tint of the white balance by 3 points over the entire course of a 20,000 image time lapse; that requires ramping the tint by 0.00015 tint, far less than the 0.1 accuracy allowed for tint in Capture One’s user interface.
The DT Time Lapse Editor bypassing this “rounding” step and inserts underlying values with 0.000000000000001 accuracy… far more than will ever be needed even for the smoothest ramps. The user interface will display only the rounded value, but the full-length precision value will be used for the underlying adjustment. This means ultra-smooth ramps and perfectly accurate smoothing functions.
Wide Range of Supported Adjustments
The following adjustments are supported:
Efficient Bulk Changes
DT time Lapse Editor is fast. However, when updating previews for very large sequences the user may not want to wait for each change to render updated previews before proceeding to the next change. For example during a day-to-night transition the user may wish to ramp exposure -1 stop over 10,000 images (-0.0001 stops per image), and also increase highlight recovery by 20 and saturation by 10 points on the last half of the sequence (0.001 and 0.0005 points per image respectively). In DT Time Lapse Tool the user can select “Sidecar” on the first two adjustments and “Sidecar (reopen) on the third adjustment. The first two adjustments will complete immediately (freeing the user to continue working without waiting for previews to re-render) but will not be visible on screen until after the third adjustment when the session will be reopened and previews regenerated (reflecting the cumulative effect of all three adjustments).
The on-screen option allows the user to watch the process in real time. It is slower overall but the previews are updated as the changes are made, which can help the user confirm they are making productive changes in real time.
Note that white balance and kelvin adjustments can only be made using the “on screen” method.
Origin Story of our Time Lapse Suite
The Origin Story; the Phase One XF IQ3 100mp Rocks at Time Lapse Capture
When Phase One released the Phase One IQ3 100mp we received a sharp uptick in interest from time lapse shooters. The 12k native resolution of the IQ3 100mp provides ample resolution for punch ins, digital pans, or multiple scenes cropped from one frame, even when the output format is 4k or 8k. Every pixel from an IQ3 100mp contains 16-bit data for each color, providing unprecedented flexibility in color grading and other post processing. The ISO range of 50 to 12,800 provides extreme flexibility, and the clean long exposures allow easy transitions from day to night. The huge dynamic range provides great latitude for changing exposures and for pulling accurate detail, color, and smooth tonality out of bright city lights during night scenes.
Unlike general-purpose small-format cameras the Phase One XF IQ3 using electronic shutter mode yields zero camera-based flicker; the aperture remains stopped down (i.e. does not move) between frames and the “shutter speed” is mathematically identical in length every frame since the electronic shutter is controlled by the on-board timer circuits rather (the transit speed of a mechanical shutter vary ever so slightly every time they fire – not a problem for normal photography but a real flicker nuisance in high-end time-lapse capture).
Time lapse shooters are also very hard on their cameras so the great build quality and warranty attracted their attention; the Phase One IQ3 100mp XF kit is protected by a five-year warranty with no shutter/actuation limitations, and includes a loaner on any component that requires repair. Moreover the Phase One IQ3 100mp offers a rolling electronic shutter, meaning many kinds of time lapse can be captured with zero physical movement (and therefore no wear and tear).
The IQ3 100mp can also be used on the back of a tech camera like the Cambo RS or Arca R lines. This greatly interested time lapse shooters since it allowed the use of exotic lenses like the Rodenstock 23HR or ultra-wide-lenses such as the Canon 12-24mm or Canon 17TS to be used with a 100mp full frame 645 medium format sensor (confused about focal lengths? see our focal length visualizer). Many such bodies provide built-in rise/fall, shift, tilt, and swing, turning every lens into a “tilt-shift” lens (as long as it has a large enough image circle).
Though a niche, there were also several shooters who contacted us excited to use the infrared version of the Phase One IQ3 100mp for time lapse.
But all of these time lapse shooters that wanted to use the IQ3 100mp reported three major limitations:
– Capture One wasn’t designed to capture time lapse footage
– Capture One wasn’t designed to edit time lapse footage
– There was no time lapse mode available when using the IQ3 100mp on a tech camera
DT resolved to solve these problem for our customers by providing DT Time Lapse Capture, a dedicated capture agent designed exclusively for time lapse capture, and DT Time Lapse Editor a plugin for Capture One that provided the tools that time lapse shooters need like ramping, smoothing, and keyframe identification.
Pricing & Availability
The Digital Transitions Time Lapse Suite is available in 8k, 10k, and 12k resolutions and is available at no cost with the purchase of a Phase One IQ3 digital system from Digital Transitions.
Current Phase One system owners and DT clients may purchase the suite at a substantial discount.
Submit your interest on the following form to get started using this unique high resolution time lapse video tool.