RAW workflow for timelapse

Originally posted on KesslerU

Tom Baurain has done this excellent video tutorial on RAW workflow for timelapses. I use a mix of RAW and JPEGS dependent on the project. Eric Kessler and I worked with Tom to get this tutorial done and it’s excellent for those looking to up their game and take the next step!

It’s pretty solid information, I don’t do the same as Tom on everything especially when it comes to shutter speeds. I let mine go as high as needed! Essential for day to nights and night to days.


Why shoot timelapse using raw instead of jpgs?  The Red Owl, Tom Baurain explains it’s for two reasons:  quality and control.  Raw files have much more information that can result in greater quality to your timelapse.

The larger files not only hold more color information, but the size of these images allows you the ability crop out what you don’t want or pan and scan without compromising quality.

The very nature of the raw file allows you to tweak the image in such a way that allows you to achieve the look you want without baking that look into the file itself.

Taking advantage of the Raw format isn’t without peril, but the Red Owl breaks it all down with this Raw workflow.

Here’s just some of what you’ll learn in this video:

  • What gear you need for timelapse
  • Adjusting your cameras settings to prevent “flicker”
  • Setting up a file system to ensure compatibility with After Effects
  • How to tweak your image in the Camera Raw interface
  • The switches in the Camera Raw interface and what they do
  • Monitor your results in Adobe Bridge
  • Importing into AfterEffects and rendering your composition

On top of all this, Baurain also reveals some other great resources. For further learning, please visit the links below.

General Learning


“Behind The Glass” with Vincent Laforet and Blake Whitman

Lens Cleaning with Jared Abrams


  • fxguidetv #74

Color Correction


  • LRTimelapse and click “tutorial” for several great tutorials on LRTimelapse

Other Useful Resources

If you’re thinking about doing timelapse or if you’ve done one but want to improve, then it’s imperative you watch this video.  You can find out more about The Red Owl, on his website athttp://theredowl.com


  1. Great Video,

    Just thought I would chime in with a workflow tip. I love shooting RAW for timelapses and using after effects is my favourite way to process them. If you want to skip the bridge step, you can activate the Camera Raw plugin in After Effects two ways. When you first import the raw sequence (btw if you “force alpha order” it will name the clip based on the parent folder name) Camera Raw will activate to allow you to apply a look to the sequence. Tom showed this in the tutorial. Also if you right click on the clip in the Project Panel and press Interpret Footage…>Main… you will open a dialogue box.

    Here you can adjust the frame rate of the sequence, as well as the aspect ratio. It’s important to match the frame rate here to your comp settings so that you avoid any unnecessary frame blending.

    At the bottom there is a button labeled “More Options…” Press it to activate Camera Raw. This way you can make adjustments to your image sequence without having to apply your look to every image.

    For those who like using Bridge, you don’t have to apply the exposure settings, or look, to every still in the timelapse. After Effects will base its look from the Camera Raw settings off the first image in the sequence. Unless you need to use LRtimelapse to fix flicker or do an effect, you won’t need separate settings for each file.

    Hope that helps 🙂

    Here you can adjust all the available settings within Camera Raw, as well and your changes will apply to the entire sequence.

  2. I know there is a lot of talk about timelapse and shutter counts getting really high. So I’ve looked into Pentax Q and the Nikon V1 both have electronic shutters and produce jaw files.

    From what I heard Sony might have a electric shutter in their next NEX cameras.

  3. This feels like a pretty convoluted way of making a time-lapse post-production wise.
    The way I did it (by learning from Phil) was just to put your images in Quicktime Pro and let it do all the work, then take the movie file into Premiere if I needed to do any pans.

  4. Awesome video!! I have to say after watching this made me want to go out and do a timelapse. so i did, after i got out of class and since i got out of class early i had time to do 3!!! i’m working on getting them together now. once again great video really informative! thanks 🙂

      1. Hi. I have a few time lapse sequences I shot with canon 5dMII in Raw. I imported them into fcpX, changed the duration to 1 frame and created a compound clip. They are really slowing down my system…Any advice for this or a better workflow so as not to slow things down with constant spinning beach ball?

  5. Hello

    I am trying a raw time lapse. I followed all the steps that are very nice explained, but when I import the images to AE, camera raw comes up photo by photo and I have to press done for every single photo.

    Could you help me with this? do you know why it could happen?

    Thank you

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