Photoshop: Time-Lapse Video Effect

Most people associate Photoshop with image editing, but did you know some versions also contain video editing?

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When people hear the word Photoshop, most immediately associate it with image editing, and 98% of the time, they’d be correct. However, there are a few features that Adobe included in Photoshop to appeal to a wider range of customers, such as video editing. In this tutorial, we’re going to look at how we can create a time-lapse style effect using a still image, and stock video.

Note: Not all versions of Photoshop will have the video editing capabilities. If you’re running the Extended version of Photoshop, you’ll be able to follow along with no issues. The standard version, however, doesn’t have the same functionality.

In terms of the media I’m going to be using, the image is a standard JPG that I took in Mexico.

As for the footage of the clouds they were downloaded from

Importing video footage into Photoshop works just like it does for images. You can either open them through the File menu, or simply drag them right into Photoshop. Both files will open in their own tab. Let’s focus on the image before we touch the video.

We’re going to be replacing the current sky with the clouds footage, so we need to isolate the sky from the rest of the image. This can be done in a variety of ways, but because the sky is fairly uniform, we can safely use the Magic Wand Tool. The Tolerance value may change depending on your surroundings, but a value of 15-30 should work well.

Start your selection by clicking on the areas that you want selected. Once you make your first selection, make sure you hold down your Shift key to include the other areas that you click. Make sure to include all traces of sky which may be hiding between fences. Any little bit left behind may throw off the whole effect.

Now that the selection is complete, we need to separate it from the rest of the image. This can simply be done by copying the selection onto a new layer. Head up to Layer > New > Layer Via Copy, or Command/CTRL + J. Perfect. It’s time to bring in our video.

Hopping over to the tab that contains our video file, we can simply drag the layer containing our video right over to our document which contains our still image. Dragging a layer on top of the tab of another document will allow you to switch documents, mid-drag. Once it’s there, place the video layer so that it’s cover the whole sky.

Once it’s in place, in your Layers Panel, right-click on the video layer, and Create a Clipping mask.

This will place your clouds inside of the sky, which we extracted a few moments ago.

Now how do we play this thing?! We need to bring up our Animation Panel. This can be done by heading up to Window > Animation. When the Animation Panel appears, let’s go over a few things which can help you in your editing.

First, the most obvious, is the Play button, which can also be triggered by tapping the Spacebar. This will playback your video.

If your video file is less than 10 seconds long, you may want to adjust the duration of your document. By default, it’s set to 10 seconds. To correct this, click on the dropdown menu at the top right of your Animation Panel, choose Document Settings, and change the Duration accordingly.

The next thing we’re going to look at, is how can can fade our video layer in or out. Beside the video layer in our Animation Panel, click on the arrow to expand it’s contents.

We want to adjust the Opacity. Clicking on the clock icon will add our first keyframe to help us adjust the Opacity. The keyframe will look like a yellow diamond.

When the keyframe is added, set the Opacity of the video layer to how you want it to appear when the video starts. In this case, I’m going to start the video with the sky in it’s clear state, so I’m going to set the Opacity at 0%.

Now, move your playhead to the point where you want the clouds to be 100% visible. I chose around 3 seconds. Beside the clock, there’s a small upwards arrow. This will add an additional keyframe when your playhead is.

When the new keyframe is added, set the Opacity back up to 100%. Playing back your video, you should see that the clouds gradually fade into view.

This also works with Adjustment Layers as well. Obviously, if the sky is getting dark and gloomy, we need to adjust our image as well! In your Layers Panel, select your background image, then add an Adjustment Layer. To make things simple, let’s add an Exposure adjustment.

To darken the image a bit, decrease your Exposure, then slightly increase your Gamma.

That should leave you with a slightly darker background image.

Now, just like we did for the video layer, we need to key the Opacity. Expand the layer’s contents in the Animation Panel, add a keyframe at the beginning of the video then change the starting Opacity to 0%. Now, add the second keyframe at the 3 second mark, and change the Opacity back up to 100%.

Our video is complete! To save it, instead of using the File > Save, we want to go down to Export, then Render Video. Enter a file name, choose where you want to save it, then choose your compression method. Quicktime Movie with the H.264 codec usually works well.

And that’s that! I showed you a preview of what Photoshop can do with video, using your imagination, I’m sure you guys can do a lot more!