How to Create a Maternity Bump Time Lapse Video Using After Effects

Have you stumbled upon this post because you just found out your pregnant and looking for a creative way to document it? First off, congrats!  I hope this post gets you pumped and ready to start documenting ASAP. I found out I was pregnant about 5 weeks into the first trimester and knew immediately that I wanted to document it somehow. With my background in video and photography, doing a time-lapse was the first thing that popped into my head.

A time-lapse video is a series of photos (or film frames) that focus on one subject over a spectrum of time, showing how a subject changes in that environment over that period of time. Photographers and videographers have gotten very creative with this format since it’s introduction in 1897 by Geothes Milies in his motion picture Carrefour De L’Opera.

A fun example of dance infused time-lapse can be seen in this music video by Ok Go for the song “End Love” (directed by Eric Gunther and Jeff Lieberman.) It was filmed over a period of 18 hours and they let the environment around them partake naturally in the process (such as ducks following them around.)

I danced in my time-lapse video (and had some special visitors pop into frame throughout too.) Watch me gain 80 lbs in under two minutes:

Here’s how I did it, along with some tips, followed by a short tutorial on how to piece together a video in After Effects if you have that program.

First thing you’ll need is a location or background/backdrop that will be available to you throughout your journey.  I used the wall of an empty bedroom. Throughout the time-lapse you can see the room changing and becoming her nursery.

For continuity, wear the same outfit throughout the time-lapse, but this is not necessary. It could be a fun element to switch up the wardrobe if that’s something your into. I wore the same stretchy leggings and a stretchy tank that both completely transformed throughout the process.

In the beginning, there was a blank wall and a beer belly.

You’ll also need a either a camera or a smart phone, and a tripod or surface to place your camera/phone on. Set the self-timer, and snap away, one picture everyday* until your baby is here!

*Let’s be real, there were days when I all I wanted to do was eat Oreos and nap. So I made up for missed days by doing 2 or 3 shots in one day. There’s a pretty obvious bump pop between 24-25 weeks in my video where I took a several days off because I was just not motivated. It happens, no biggie!

Oh heeey belly!

Because I was dancing around the frame, I placed some duct tape on the ground to mark my spot to keep the flow going. But I have cats. Cats love to play with random things, so sometimes I’d find the tape scattered elsewhere. In that situation, I looked back at the previous days photo and eyeball where to place my feet next.

You don’t have to dance though. Just standing in the same spot everyday will make a phenomenal video!

TIP: Backup your photos regularly. For fear of accidentally deleting them from the camera, every week I would upload the latest batch of images onto my computer and save them.  I’d also edit them if needed that way I wasn’t overloaded with edits when it was time to put the whole video together.

An optional feature for your video would be music. You may already know what track you’d love to use, and if you are going to dance in your video, keep that in mind. The song I used, “Bienvenue” by Class Actress, I had loved for years before. One day in my 2nd trimester, it played via my Spotify playlist shuffle, and I started crying because the lyrics and music were so perfect. That’s when I knew it was the song for the video. Now every time I hear it, I think of my pregnancy journey. Love it.

And then she arrived!

After you’ve completed documenting your bump, you could end it with a reveal of your baby!

Now that you have all these photos (and music if you’d like) you’re ready to make the time-lapse video. There are apps that could put it together for you, but if you’d like more control over how you want it turn out, I’d suggest using Adobe After Effects. (I’m not affiliated with them. I just personally use it!)

HOW TO EDIT THE VIDEO:

This is a tutorial on how I used Adobe After Effects CS5 to create my time-lapse video.

Create a folder on your desktop or external hard drive to organize all your maternity bump photos. Make sure they are numerically in order for ease of editing.

Open After Effects and in the task bar at the top of the screen click on Composition—> New Composition.  Create a name for the project, and set a reasonable duration (you can adjust this later.) Press OK.

Next import all your photos and music by clicking File (in the task bar at the top) and Import Multiple Files. Notice that all the photos will be in the project in numerical order.

IMPORTANT TIP: Save. Save this project right now. And continue to save it like every 5 minutes you work on it.

Before editing, I like to mark off the beat of the song so that the pictures will align and flow with the music. To do this, drag the song you’re using down to the timeline. To hear it, you’ll need to go to Composition –> Preview –> RAM Preview.

This will prompt the song to begin playing on the timeline. To add marks, just tap on the * symbol.  Keep tapping that to the beat until your through the song, or feel you have enough marks for all your photos (you can tap the spacebar to stop the music.) The marks are helpful when aligning your photos which is the main and major bulk of the editing from here on out.

Now, drag all your photos to the timeline. Make sure they are in the correct order to show your bump growth.  While they are all highlighted on the timeline, you can adjust them in whatever ways need to be done simultaneously.

For example, the scale. All the images may be too large, so scale them down by clicking on the arrow to bring up a drop down menu. Then click on the Transform arrow to bring up another drop down menu of editable elements. Click and hold on the scale numbers and drag left to make the image size smaller (you’ll see this live in the preview window.) As long as all the photos on the timeline are highlighted, this scale change will affect them all.

While all the timeline photos are highlighted, adjust their duration on the timeline.  Using the space between 2 of the marks is a great idea of measurement. To do this, click and hold the right edge of the timeline photos, and drag left. As long as all the photos on the timeline are highlighted, this will affect all of them.

Now comes the tedious part of this project. Sprawling out all the images from the beginning to the end. What worked best for me was this repetitive formula:

While all timeline photos are highlighted, drag and align them at the first marker. Hold “ctrl” and click the first timeline image to un-highlight it. Drag the highlighted images to the next marker. Hold “ctrl” and click the top highlighted asset, and continue to do this all the way to the last asset.

Once everything is in order and placed throughout the timeline, you may need to make small adjustments here and there to align each photo between markers. Make sure that you the image you are adjusting is the only one highlighted so you don’t affect others on the timeline.

At this point, you could also add text if you’d like. I included an opening title, a countdown of weeks next to the time-lapse, and then some closing text. To add text, click on the “T” in the top toolbar, then using your cursor click on the image preview window where you’d like the text. You can adjust this placement with the Arrow tool (found towards the left of the toolbar) anytime.

When you create text, the duration will be for the length of the project you specified, just like any other asset you place onto the timeline. So you’ll need to adjust it on the timeline by clicking and dragging to the left, just like you did with the photos.

With these basics of a time-lapse video completed, you are just about done. Before exporting, make sure there won’t be a lot of dead air.  For example, when you created this project, you may have set the duration to 5 min. Now looking at the timeline, it appears the composition is only 2 min 27 seconds.

You can adjust the timeline duration by clicking on Composition–> Composition Settings, and change the time.

Now you’re ready to export the video. To do this, go to Composition–> Make Movie.

This will bring up the render task bar:

Click on “Lossless” in the Output Module to ensure the audio is on and to adjust the format to your preference.  I’ll choose H.264 for this example.

Click OK, and that’ll take you back to the render task bar.  Make sure that you are saving the video to a recognizable location, such as the folder that you’ve been saving this project to regularly.

Finally, hit the “Render” button located at the top right of the Render Queue box. Depending on how long your video is, this could take some time. Once completed, After Effects chimes a charming little alarm, and you’ll find your video in the folder you saved it to.


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