Managing Time-Lapses

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Today’s Question: I recently created 80+ time-lapse sequences in Photoshop. Since Lightroom doesn’t handle time-lapse very well is there a good reason to include them in the catalog?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The answer here depends a little bit on your specific workflow needs, but from my perspective it is still helpful to have your time-lapse captures included in your Lightroom catalog. My approach is to put time-lapse captures into a sub-folder within the primary folder (if applicable) that contains other images captured at the same time. But having those photos available provides a number of benefits, so I recommend including them.

More Detail: To begin with, I simply prefer having “everything” in my Lightroom catalog, in terms of all of the photos and video clips I have captured. I even wish Lightroom would enable me to include audio clips that were recorded as part of my overall photography and videography, but that’s a different matter.

I also consider it helpful to have my time-lapse captures in my Lightroom catalog simply so I will remember that I actually have them. I capture a lot of photos, and can’t possibly remember every photograph I’ve ever captured or every trip I’ve ever taken. By having the time-lapse captures (in their own folder) included in my Lightroom catalog, I have a better chance of remembering that the images actually exist.

Perhaps more importantly, I find there is a tremendous workflow advantage to having my time-lapse captures in Lightroom. As you have probably realized by now, when assembling a time-lapse video from a sequence of individual captures, you generally want to apply some batch adjustments to those images. For example, the images should be scaled down to a smaller size, and often cropped, based on the final video resolution you’re going to produce. I also often like to synchronize adjustments to all of the images I’m assembling into a time-lapse, both to correct exposure or color in the photos and also to apply creative effects to the images.

I personally use Apple QuickTime Pro (an older version) to assemble my time-lapse sequences. I therefore employ Lightroom to synchronize adjustments across all of the images in the sequence, and then export those images from Lightroom to create the derivative images that I will actually use to create the time-lapse video.

The bottom line is that I do find it tremendously advantageous to have my time-lapse captures included in my Lightroom catalog. I realize that the notion of having hundreds (or thousands) of “extra” photos in your Lightroom catalog may seem like a disadvantage, but from my perspective the advantages of having those photos included in your Lightroom catalog exceeds the disadvantages.