How to shoot Timelapses of stars from any Android smartphone


Hello & welcome to The World Of Cool.
Moreover, welcome to another episode of #theworldofcoolfeatures.
A lot of motivational posters that I keep coming across on social media say a variation of this very same thing.
Don’t tell them your plans, show them your result.
so in six,
Even though it’s technically a timelapse, it’s more specifically a starlapse,
and yes, you can take it with any smartphone. but no,
you can’t take it with most timelapse apps.
remember this clip?
this is a oneplus 7 pro pointing at the exact same thing with the timelapse option in its camera app while the LG G8 is taking that shot.
and for fair play, I switched the two phones.
So this is the LG G8 taking a timelapse from it’s native camera app,
and this is what the OnePlus 7 pro captured using the method I’m going to explain.
you see the difference is, for taking these starlapses you need longer exposure times,
which most of these native timelapse apps do not support.
I understand there are many other apps that let you take manual timelapses,
some may even be free.
but let’s say I download or buy a timelapse app,
I then run into the probability of running into incompatibility issues with a phone that I may get in the future,
because these apps ask for hardware control,
shutter and all.
So I decided against third party apps,
seriously I even bought Camera FV-5’s paid version.
Worked on my LG,
crashed on my OnePlus.
but you see many phones offer manual settings in their native camera app,
that lets you take long exposure photographs,
many of them even let you save these as RAW files.
which is a great added bonus.
if only we had the patience,
impeccable timing & the free time required to keep taking these photos at regular set intervals.
ok so it’s quarantine & lock-down time in most of India,
so free time is not an issue,
but ok moving on.
for taking these starlapses,
what you need is a heavy duty tripod,
a very sturdy camera mount,
any smartphone,
an app on that smartphone that lets you do manual photography,
many phones call it pro mode in their native camera app.
and another app called Intervalometer.
It’s a paid app,
costs only 120 rupees,
even I’ve bought it,
and it’s totally worth it.
what it does is,
it draws over other apps,
like your phone’s native camera app.
gives you a target that you need to place over the shutter button.
so once you start your timelapse,
this target mimics you touching that same spot at precisely timed intervals.
I hope you see the benefits.
now I will tell you my process.
thankfully for a while I am not staying in Noida where stars are difficult to spot,
because of regular pollution & light pollution.
so you need to find a spot where you can see stars in the night.
get a heavy tripod,
and a heavy duty phone mount.
your phone shouldn’t move at all,
else you will get blurred photos.
I have linked what I use in the description.
Go to your phone settings and increase the display lock time,
Your phone shouldn’t automatically lock while taking photos.
Then open the intervalometer app,
Click on Open intervalometer,
then switch apps to your camera app & frame.
I also try my maximum to frame with something in the foreground,
that exaggerates the star’s motion.
ISO is always set to minimum.
I usually set focus to a little behind infinity,
then I fire 2-3 test shots with different test shutter speeds.
so I start with 5 seconds,
10 seconds,
and even 30 seconds.
I can’t give you concrete numbers,
it completely depends on your location & frame etc
But you should set to whatever shows you stars & clearly.
Once corona is defeated,
I will be in the hills,
far away from any major cities,
and then I will definitely try 30 seconds or more and click the milky way.
once your shutter speed is set,
click on configure,
it will draw a bulls’ eye on your shutter button,
move it around if it’s not accurately on it.
then click ok.
It offers you timer controls,
wherein you can set the interval,
as in after how much time do you want a photo to be clicked,
this number of course needs to be more than your shutter speed.
So if you put in 30 seconds, let’s say,
put this at least 40ish seconds,
30 seconds for the exposure to happen,
10 extra for your phone to save the image and all that.
I usually set this to 60 seconds,
so 1 photo every minute,
that’s why my motion is very heightened.
you can put in how many images you wish to click for your timelapse.
or you can actually let it run till infinity,
which in this case is how long your phone’s battery will last,
or how long your power-bank lasts,
or if you plug in your phone,
then it’s infinite,
ok not even then,
phones can run out of storage,
stop this train of thought & get back to the video.
you can also put in a delay timer,
so the first click will happen that many seconds later as much as you’ve set the delay timer to be.
this is very important,
I always put in 10 seconds,
this helps your setup stabilise after you’ve introduced micro jitters while tapping start.
then it’s just a game of waiting patiently.
see if you put in 1 click every minute,
you will get 60 images in an hour,
which if you play back at 30 frames per second,
it’s just 2 seconds,
which sucks,
so lots of patience,
some of my timelapses in the opening montage ran for 6 hours.
so start with a full battery for sure & a fully charged power bank is also suggested.
hours later once you’re done with your clicking,
now comes the compilation part.
the makers of the Intervalometer also make another app called TimeLab that compiles all the photos that you took into a video.
That’s free.
You can try that. I didn’t.
Since I am more of a PC person,
I copy all the clicked photos on to my laptop.
then open the bulk rename utility,
absolutely free to download & install for personal use.
and rename all the files.
This step is necessary because the naming convention on phones is messed up,
so the files are not always in an incremental sequence,
and so you will face issues in your editing software.
in the navigation pane of the bulk rename utility,
find the folder where you’ve saved all the photos.
then you need to sort these photos by time clicked.
go to renaming options in the app’s menu,
go to ID3,
EXIF data,
file properties,
and enable extract EXIF data.
you will need to refresh the app once by pressing F5.
now sort the list by the Taken Original properties.
as you can see,
on top,
the first photo taken,
and then time keeps increasing by a minute.
now control a to select all the photos,
and set the from to 1 in the remove options,
and then keep increasing the to,
till you see only .jpg or whatever format your phone clicks photos in,
in the new name menu.
then head to the numbering pane,
put mode to prefix,
start to 1,
and increment to 1 as well.
now you will notice in the new name sort list that the file name is now sequential.
scroll to the absolute bottom,
and tally the file name with the number of photos in the folder,
they match,
you be brilliant.
Then all you need to do is hit rename.
multiple editing apps and software will help you churn out a starlapse video out of these images,
but my weapon of choice is always Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci resolve.
It’s easily the world’s most powerful creative package in one,
but offers a completely free version with no limits as such & no watermarks or ad-placement issues.
you can produce legit cinema theater level films with this free software,
why crack premiere?
if you want detailed resolve & editing in resolve tutorials,
please just ask.
I will reply to the best of my knowledge.
after you’ve installed Resolve and run it,
head to the media page
click on project settings and in the master settings option,
set your timeline resolution to 1920 x 1080 HD
set your timeline frame rate to 25,
that’s absolutely fine for digital uploading.
then just click on save.
once again,
resolve may literally be powerful enough to win you an oscar for best editing, best animation, best sound design & best colour grading,
but for now I’m just getting you to export an image sequence.
just comment below if you want some videos on resolve.
find your timelapse sequence in the navigation pane,
drop it onto the footage bin,
then just right click & create a timeline with the selected bin,
as soon as you switch to the edit page,
your starlapse,
hot and ready.
resolve is the world’s most powerful colour grading tool so of course I spend some time doing all of that,
but if this was your first starlapse,
just go to the export page,
select the YouTube preset,
add to render queue,
and then export.
& of course upload,
& of course subscribe,
and of course notification icon,
and of course comments.
it’s actually the comments that tell me that people still love watching detailed long videos of creative DIYs.
if you tag me on insta,
I will happily see your starlapses,
will as is see me in the next video.
chow chow
stay vigilant,
stay healthy.


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