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How to Make an Editing Time-lapse and Increase Engagement

An editing time-lapse is a great way to give viewers a peek behind the scenes of how you edit your photos, is a quick watch, and a fantastic way to get people engaged in your content. So, how do you make them?

Before we get into how, let’s talk about the what and the why. An editing time-lapse is a video of your editing process. It’s slow enough to show what you did but quick enough to not be a tutorial. I started making these just for fun; I find they help keep me concentrated on editing and not getting distracted by Facebook, Reddit, YouTube, etc. But when I started posting them along with my regular posts, I noticed my engagement go up and people commenting how much they enjoyed them.

But how do you make them, you may ask. It’s really quite simple. First, you need a free piece of software call OBS. This is free software used by game streamers to capture their games and stream on Twitch.

The first step is to open the software and add a “scene.” A scene is sort of like a preset. We only need one, however. By default, the “add scene” button is the plus sign in the bottom left of OBS.

Next, you add your source; in this case, we want to add “display capture.” Simply click on the plus sign under Sources and you should find it. If you have two monitors, choose whichever monitor you will be editing on and click OK. Be sure that “Capture mouse cursor” is unchecked; otherwise, your viewers will see your mouse cursor flitting around the screen like a hyperactive ant.

Next, go to file – Settings – Video and set your base and canvas resolution to 1,920×1,080. If you’re like me and edit with one of your monitors set to vertical, set this to 1,080×1,920. Then, go to output and set your video bitrate between 5,000 and 10,000 kbps. I go with 5,000 since these just go on Instagram. Set your recording path to where you want it to go, your quality to the same as a stream, and your recording format to MP4 or MKV. If you set it to MKV, you will have to remux the recording, but I find the quality to be a little better. Next, open up the image you want to edit, hit “start recording,” and away you go!

When you’re finished editing, stop the recording, export your photo, and open up your favorite NLE. In my case, that’s Premiere, but DaVinci Resolve’s free version will work just fine. What I like to do is make two versions of my editing time-lapse, one that is 30 seconds long for my Instagram grid and one that is 15 seconds long for Instagram reels and TikTok.

Import your video file and image into the NLE and make a new timeline. Scrub through the timeline and cut out the parts where nothing is happening, be it Photoshop opening or saving or things like that. Make sure there are no gaps in the video, and then, select them all and nest them together (or in DaVinci, make them a compound clip). Next, drop your video file in first and change the speed. Thankfully, most NLEs have an option to change the clip length, so you can right-click, select “change speed,” and then set the clip length to 00:00:26:00. This gives us approximately four seconds to show off the final image. Bring your image into the timeline and make it four seconds long, so the timeline is a total of 30 seconds long. Resize it so that is it a little bit smaller than you want, and set a keyframe at the start of the image in the timeline. Next, go to the end of the clip and set a keyframe, and then resize the image a little bit larger than you like, but not cutting off the edges. Export this in H.264.

Next, group/nest/compound the clips together, and speed it up by 200%. This is your 15-second version. Export this and put it all together, and you get:

What I like to do is post the final image on Instagram, and then post the 30-second video a well in a gallery so people can swipe across like so:

Have you ever made an editing time-lapse before? Will you be making one now? Sound off in the comments below!