Cover photo by Loren Lewis.

TimeWarp is arriving on Android, and it's bringing a whole new way to program timelapses with it. Get ready for some mind-bending time bending!

TimeWarp - the basics

TimeWarp is a powerful way to add a little extra to your Timelapses. Like Timelapse mode, TimeWarp allows you to take a large number of images at intervals so they can then be assembled into a resulting Timelapse.

What TimeWarp adds is that it can change the interval duration between each shot during the overall time that the images are taken. This means that you can achieve the effect of speeding up or slowing down the resulting Timelapse when it is played back.

TimeWarp is a powerful tool and with it you can achieve some great results, but as a wise person once said - i think it was Stan Lee - with great power comes great responsibility. OK, maybe not great responsibility in this case, but because TimeWarp is very configurable it is easy to get in a bit of a pickle if you don’t understand a few basic principles.

So what does it look like?

I'm glad you asked, here's a basic example of what it can do. This is a completely unprocessed video; all we did was to take the still frames taken with our camera triggered by the Triggertrap Mobile App, and strung them together into a video:

It’s all about the curves

To control our acceleration and deceleration of a Timelapse we use curves. Why? Because curves are sexy as hell, obviously.

Curves are commonly used to describe rates of change, providing a great way to describe a gradual rate of change. TimeWarp uses such a curve to describe how fast we want our resulting Timelapse to accelerate and decelerate.  The first thing you’ll see on TimeWarp is something like this:

Lets take a look at the curve we can see here. This curve describes a Timelapse that will start slowly, accelerate to its highest speed in the middle, and decelerate towards its end.

You can see the the steepness of the curve has a direct relationship to the rate of change of the Timelapse produced. The flatter the curve the slower the rate of change - the steeper the curve the faster the rate of change.

To get an idea of how the resulting Timelapse will change you can also click on the preview icon which will play a short animation of a clock animated with the acceleration/deceleration describe in the curve.

Another way of interpreting the curve is to think about how quickly or slowly shots are being taken. When the curve is flat the interval between shots will be short and as the curve increases in steepness the interval will increase. At first this may seem counter intuitive but if you think about playing back the shots at a constant frame rate it makes sense. The more shots that are taken in a period of time the longer it will take to play them back, so the resulting Timelapse will be slower.

To adjust the curve and change the acceleration/deceleration there are two control points that can be dragged. The control points can be dragged anywhere within the box shown on the TimeWarp mode. By doing this a wide range of variations on the rate of change of the TimeWarp can be achieved.

An example setup

Now we understand the principles behind TimeWarp lets take a look at an example of how to set it up. A common scenario for a Timelapse would be to capture a sunrise. With our TimeWarp we’ll have the sunrise progressing slowly and then accelerate towards the middle and decelerate at the end.

The first thing we’ll need to do is set up the number of exposures and the duration for the TimeWarp. To do this tap on the bar at the top of the TimeWarp screen to enter these values.

In this case we’ll keep the duration as one hour and change the number of shots to 900. These figures will mean that on average we will take a shot every 4 seconds, but because we are using a TimeWarp our shot interval will vary depending on the curve. If we played back the resulting TimeWarp at 30 frames per second we will have 30 seconds of playback.  Now that we’ve entered our exposures and duration tap on the red bar again so that we can adjust the curve.

For this example we are going to accelerate into the TimeWarp and decelerate out of it. For this we need the curve to be flat at the beginning and end so we drag the control point to the top and bottom of the control area and place them about halfway along. This gives a nice smooth rate of change, click on the preview icon to check it.

If we wanted the acceleration at the beginning to be slower. We could just drag the control point at the bottom of the control area further along, this also has the effect of making the middle area of the curve steeper , so we would have a very slow increase at the beginning a much faster middle and a slow decelerate finish.

Watch out for the overlaps!

One of the last things we need to mention when setting up TimeWarp are overlaps. If you carried on dragging the bottom control point right into the bottom right hand corner you would notice that some extra circles appear at the beginning of the curve.

The circles indicate that we have shots that are overlapping. What we’ve done is try to squeeze too many shots into too short a time period.  Taking a timelapse like this will still work , but it will mean that the number of shots being taken will be lower than you requested, additionally the smooth transitions described by the curve will not be followed precisely so you resulting TimeWarp will not speed up and slow down smoothly. You should always avoid overlaps when setting up a TimeWarp and you can do this by doing one of a number of things:

  1. Increase the duration.
  2. Decrease the number of shots.
  3. Increase the steepness of the curve.

Which one of these properties you want to tweak depends on you desired outcome. If duration is important then change the curve or number of shots. If the number of shots is more important change the duration.

Some example curves

So now that you have the basics making your own TimeWarp videos will be easy. By adjusting the curve you can make them speed up and slow down at different rates and even at different points in the TimeWarp. To get you going here’s a few more examples that you can try. Adjust your curve to match these and be sure to hit the preview icon to get an idea of the TimeWarp they’ll create.

We would love some feedback!

Obviously, this is a brand new control, and it's only available in the Beta version of the Android app for now. We really would love some feedback on what it's like to use. Is it easy to understand? Easy to use? Or, at least, is it easier to use than the "Quintic In-Out" system we are currently using on the iOS app?

Leave us a comment below or tell us in the forum!

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