Everything you need to know to film an exceptional time-lapse video
I love time-lapse and I blame Casey Neistat.
Ok “blame” is a bit strong. How about: I attribute this to Casey Neistat’s popular YoutTube channel ?
If you happen to spend some time watching YouTube video clips, you might have noticed that many creators of content have started to use the time-lapse effect as part of their videos. Time-lapse is a technique that videographers user to speed up time. It is achieved by capturing a series of images over a set period of time and when these images are stitched together they have the visual effect of time moving at a much faster pace. Think fast-forwarding-a-TV-show-to-avoid-the-commercials type of effect.
Why waste your time with time-lapse?
Yes, time-lapse is time-consuming. You set your camera and start to film a series of images and during that time you can not move your trip-pod mounted camera. Time ticks by veeeery slowly when you shoot time-lapse as you shooting 1 image every X number of seconds, so you need “lots of seconds” to tick by before you have even a minute of useable time-lapse footage.
So why do it? would you want to stare at a wall being built over an hour? Most people would be bored. However, with time-lapse, you can take that hour and squash it into a minute and the wall is built!
Sunset in Seconds
Visually time-lapse is a superb effect and I use it often in my videos too. As you can see in this video, I used it for the opening scene showing the sunset over Las Vegas showing a nice transition from day to night. I also used the technique to speed up an otherwise mundane part of the video such as walking through the airport or opening a delivery box to see what’s inside:
How do you shoot time-lapse ?
There are many ways to achieve the time-lapse effect. In its core, time lapse is about stitching individual images together. Therefore the simplest way to understand how impressive time-lapse can be is to download a time-lapse app onto your mobile phone. There are many apps to choose from on both Android and iOS (free and paid for app) and while some apps are better than others, the usually give you some control over the number of images per minute and length of time. I would choose a couple of the free ones and have a play and soon you will see how cool the effect is and you will add this to your next family vacation video! [remember the part I said about speeding up mundane parts of the video….you’re welcome]
As you move up from your phone to a DSLR or a Point-and-Shoot camera, then the game changes slightly as you have more options and more control over the images. This is where I head over to Ted Forbes who, for the uninitiated, is a photographer and filmmaker and produces the Art of Photography YouTube channel.
Ted covered this topic and shares some insights and tips into how to get the most out of your time-lapse photography:
Bonus Tip: Did you know you could do time-lapse with an egg time? Check out my previous article