Screen Capture Time-Lapse

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Today’s Question: Your answer about time-lapse software got me thinking about a project I’ve had on my list for a while. I’d like to record a time-lapse video of me working an image from start to finish. Can you recommend an approach for this?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I suggest using simple screen capture software, configuring the software for a reduced frame rate. You can then use virtually any video editing software you’d like to adjust the playback speed of the video to create the time-lapse result.

More Detail: The first step here is to capture your screen video, showing the editing process you have planned. I prefer iShowU HD (https://www.shinywhitebox.com/ishowu) for screen captures on Macintosh computers, and Camtasia (https://www.techsmith.com/camtasia.html) for Windows computers. These tools (or other screen capture software) enable you to specify a frame rate. You can use a relatively low frame rate (perhaps even one frame per second) to reduce the overall file size of the video you’re recording.

Regardless of the frame rate you use for capturing the initial screen capture video, you can then use video editing software to increase the playback speed for the video you recorded. The specific approach here will depend on the video editing software you’re using, but for example in Adobe Premiere Elements you can use the Time Stretch feature and in Premiere Pro you can adjust the “Speed/Duration” setting for a video clip to speed up playback.

The result can then be rendered to produce a new video at the desired speed, compressing the time you’re presenting in the video. For example, if you speed up by a factor of thirty, you can present a one-frame-per-second capture at an output rate of thirty frames per second. In other words, a process that took you thirty minutes to perform can be presented in a time-lapse video that is only one minute long.