RAW Timelapse Tutorial INTRODUCTION: Paying it Forward

***NOTE: All opinions & perspectives shared come from my experience as a shooter and may not be the best way of doing things. I am simply sharing MY WORKFLOW when both capturing and processing RAW time-lapses similar to the ones seen in the INTRODUCTORY video below***.

The RAW Timelapse Tutorial – INTRODUCTION


By Preston Kanak

The expression “pay it forward” is used to describe the concept of asking that a good deed be repaid to others. In sociology, this concept is called “generalized reciprocity” or “generalized exchange.” It is the belief that by doing good, everyone will benefit. For this tutorial series, I will be taking this approach. I will not be charging for this series — but there is a catch! If you find ANYTHING helpful in any of the videos, please either share your work or share your experiences along the way — including anything new you may learn — be it workflow or anything else.

Finding New Ways To Make A Living

Life isn’t JUST about making money — even though we all strive for it. It is about loving what you do and being happy doing it. It is extremely important that you be passionate about the work you do — and the way you live your life. When you decide to make the leap and become a full time freelance filmmaker, you don’t expect to make a million dollars. If you do, that’s great. It just isn’t always the reality. Now there have been a lot of articles online recently discussing ways to make a living as a filmmaker. Although I’m fairly new to film-making, there are also a few things I have learned on my short — but adventurous journey. In this series, I will share what I have learned along the way.

Personal Bio

My name is Preston Kanak and I am a filmmaker based out of Saskatchewan, Canada. I have been in film for about 6 years — a full time freelancer since September 2011. In 2010, I produced and posted a short film every day for the entire year. Near the end of the project, Philip Bloom gave me the opportunity to work with him on a feature doc in Lewiston, Idaho. Following this project, I started helping Philip on his blog — posting on my experiences as a new filmmaker. In 2011, I again assisted Philip on the Kessler Crane doc in Plymouth, Indiana where I was privileged to meet Eric Kessler — one of the nicest guys I have ever met — and now proud to call him family. I currently work with Kessler Crane producing tutorial and showcase videos as well as managing content for Kessler University.

Target Audience

The target audience of this series will be the independent filmmaker who is open to learn. In the series, I hope to give a thorough breakdown of how to shoot RAW time-lapses. There is no perfect formula to get incredible shots other than practice, practice & more practice. These shorts will simply give you a look at how I approach shooting time-lapses. Comments and recommendations for future videos are encouraged.

This series is a work in progress and will continue to evolve as I learn more. Below you can find the current content breakdown:

1: Introduction

This video will introduce the series as well as showcase the types of shots that will be present in the time-lapse series.

The RAW Timelapse Tutorial – INTRODUCTION from Preston Kanak on Vimeo.

2: Kit Breakdown / Software & Hardware Solutions – Introduction

In this video, I will give a quick preview of what equipment I use when shooting time-lapses.

3. A Closer Look at my ‘Tool Kit’

In this section, I will look closer at my ‘go to’ equipment and also break down a few different kit configurations depending on shot requirements as well as shooting conditions.

4. PRE-PRODUCTION — (Story, Scouting & Scheduling)

Pre-production is by far the most important part of the process for not only time-lapse photography but filmmaking as a whole. By being prepared from the beginning and by having a well laid out plan, production & post-production will ALWAYS go way smoother. There are a few specific areas that I will be investigating as part of the pre-production phase.

  • Searching for Locations.
  • Prepping Gear.
  • Shot Lists.


This section will be the most extensive and will encompass a wide array of possible time-lapse setups. For a list of the current tutorials to be covered in the series, please see below:

  • Camera Settings/Modes: Understanding the Basic Functions of a DSLR
  • Static Time-lapses
  • Motion Controlled Time-lapses
  • Day to Night Time-lapses
  • Astro Time-lapses
  • HDR Time-lapses
  • Walking Time-lapses
  • Bulb Ramping


For this section, I will be covering a few different methods for processing the time-lapses, as well as some of the ways with which to remove flicker from your time-lapses. I will also be focusing on a few compositing techniques.

Some of the programs/codecs I will be covering include:
  • LR Timelapse, Lightroom, After Effects, Photoshop, Premiere, FCP 7, Quicktime 7, GB Deflicker, CHV Time Collection, ProRes vs CineForm, Photomatrix, GBS Timelapse & more.

NOTE: I will be spending a substantial amount of time discussing how to remove flicker using various programs, as it is a highly requested topic.

7. Distribution: An Expanding Market Opportunity

The demand for online content is increasing. Grants for web series are becoming available. Discounts that used to exist for online content, such as discounted actor rates, are quickly disappearing as many are seeing the added value in online content. Crowd funding is also becoming a viable option for funding. With this shift, it is key to create an online presence — and get your work seen.

Paying it Forward

The gap between low quality and high quality video is quickly closing, and this quality content is becoming available at a fraction of the price. It is becoming even more important to find ways to stand out from the crowd.

Now the main reason I am asking anyone that learns from the tutorials to either post their work or post something they learn along the way is because of the impact this work could have upon someone else. By posting your content online, you may be posting content that a viewer can relate to. You may even inspire someone or speak to them on a deeper level that could inevitably cause a life altering event. Who knows?!?

With this new market that is emerging, many people now have access and it is becoming even more important to find your niche. There are a few things you can do to stand out. Do work that relates to personal experiences. Continue to work hard and be passionate about the work you do — no matter what you are working on. Do the best possible job you can do on EVERY job. If you continually grow and work hard, good things will happen. It doesn’t take much to push yourself as a filmmaker. I’ve found that it is actually harder to be complacent!


Although only a quick look, the above post breaks down what I will be covering in the tutorials. If there is anything you would like to see added to the list or any advice on how you would like the series to be approached, please share in the comment section below!


  1. Looking forward to it! Just one request, Preston: please slow down for us non native English speakers! The combination of your speed and a background piano tune made it hard to follow at times.
    Thanks for putting it together 🙂

  2. Looks great, looking forward to the rest, thanks for sharing! I’m especially interested in the astro-timelapse as I’m curious if you’re using equatorial mounts, how you’re polar aligning, if you’re stacking photos etc.

  3. I’m excited 🙂

    By the way, the latest version of Magic Lantern (2.3) has some updates to the Bulb Ramping feature which make it very usable. At the moment, that version is in beta and only available to donors to the project, but it’ll be released free to the public in a couple weeks, once testing is finished.

  4. I’m looking forward to this, Preston!
    I’m actually myself engaged in a ‘big’ passion project for the first time, called ‘On Holy Ground’. As I’m progressing, and making mistakes, I’m learning a lot. I have discovered the power of ‘time lapse’, but for the moment, my technical skills for it are limited: what I do is I film 2 or 3 minutes, and then speed it up 8 times in Sony Vegas (to be precise, it is 4x, render, 4x again). I know this is pretty basic, but I was very happy with the opening shot of this movie:

  5. Hi Preston, great job, thanks, I am new in this community, although I looked every week for the last 2 years on the Philip Bloom website, thanks to him I learned how to make a time-lapse, I work as an international advertising photographer and wanted to try doing some film since a long time, with my son ( assistant editor ) and a few young LA professionals I could make a 40 second personal work tv spot, I mixed time-lapse with film, here is the result: https://vimeo.com/43207682 I will keep on follow you and Philip because there is still a lot to learn, thanks again
    Ebo – Netherlands

  6. If possible, I would like you to give some attention to the time lapse possibilities of Magic Lantern. I know that you are sponsored by Kessler and they have their proprietary software for doing time lapse photography, but there are many like me, I think, who simply don’t have the budget to buy ourselves into the Kessler way of life!

    1. Not quite sure which KESSLER product you are thinking of that does Timelapse that is the same as Magic Lantern. One is in camera intervalometer…the other is a motion control system. Unless of course there is some insanely amazing feature I have missed in magic lantern! 🙂

  7. Thanks a million Preston. I am looking forward to see your tutorials. What you are doing is very meaningful. Along with Phillip, you guys have become the standard for many of us. Your generosity in sharing information is priceless. Thank you.
    ps. Greetings from Maryland USA

  8. Thanks Preston, I will follow closely… You and Philip have been an inspiration for me to start shooting time lapses. Now I shoot time lapse as a living and find great joy in doing it. 🙂

        1. May be more than 7 — still finalizing as have had a few requests for additional content. Aiming for every two weeks. First one wanted to have up right after but had some family stuff that came up.

          1. Hi Preston,

            Greetings from your neighbour province, Alberta! Looking forward to the
            upcoming eps as I’m employing DSLRs on an amazing journey to
            Antarctica this fall.

            I will be using a 5D as a 4th camera to gather transitional elements
            and time lapses for the series I’m shooting. I’m interested in a recommendation
            on a slider that packs down small as I’m taking a ton of equipment and weight
            is an issue for many legs of the journey.

  9. Could you tell me what the camera setting should be from frame to frame do they stay static or do they track with available light? I guess when I have tried to do timelapse’s they never turn out as lovely as these…

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