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An easy guide on how to make a time lapse video

A time lapse video is a creative and aesthetically impressive way to portray a movement or passage of time through images. Although they look like videos, they are often a series of photographs edited together at a frame rate which creates the visual effect of a time lapse. This is one of the main techniques on how to make a time lapse video, but video files can also be used.

We will go through the different ways of capturing these images and creating this effect, which can so beautifully be used to represent the speed of a vehicle, the changes in nature, the hustle and bustle of a city or the colours of a sunset.


how to make a time lapse video


How to make a time lapse video with photos

The ‘classic’ time lapse video you’ve probably seen, was most likely created with photographs. This is a reliable way to do this, if you have a good camera. Photos will result in better resolution which will give you more opportunity to zoom in and out of the image if you want to, without it looking pixelated.

Another benefit of using stills, instead of video files, is that they can create that cool motion blur you’ve seen in time lapses with moving cars or running water, this is because they allow for longer exposure. This effect will require taking hundreds, if not thousands of photos, depending on what you want to portray. So other than time and patience, you will also need a hard drive with enough room to store all your footage.

These are the 5 easy steps explaining how to make a time lapse video using stills with a DSLR camera:

  1. Use a tripod or stable surface, the camera needs to remain completely still the entire time otherwise you will lose the convincing effect of a time lapse.
  2. Set your camera to Still Photo Mode, and remember to keep it on Manual Exposure too, otherwise the focus might automatically stay on something different in each photo.
  3. Use slow shutter speed, as mentioned previously this allows for the cool effect of blurred motion. An ND filter can also be helpful for this.
  4. If your camera has a timer setting for time lapses or an interval mode, turn it on to avoid clicking every single photo for hours.
  5. Edit them together, once you’ve got all your photos it’s time to stitch them together on your editing software.


I found a lot of this helpful advice on this Vimeo article, which you can check out for more details on how to make a time lapse video.


How to make a time lapse video with a video file

Another way to create a time lapse is with a video file. You will probably get less of the motion blur that stills provide. However, a positive of this way is that it needs less planning and preparation than the first method.

These are the 5 steps you’ll need to follow to complete this method with a DSLR camera:

  1. Use a tripod or stable surface, exactly like with the photo method, the camera needs to be completely still.
  2. Set your camera to Video Mode, again, I’m being repetitive here but set it to manual exposure to control the image more.
  3. Use slow shutter speed, the recommended shutter speed for this method is 1/30 or 1/60. This reduces the choppiness in your final edit of the time lapse video.
  4. Record your video, the longer you shoot for, the more obvious the time lapse effect will be, so film for an least an hour to achieve this best.
  5. Edit, finally once you’ve got your video it’s time to get your editing software up and simply speed up the footage.


Adobe also offers a helpful guide on how to make a time lapse video, which you can read here.




How to make a time lapse video with your phone

If you don’t have a DSLR camera, or just prefer shooting things on your phone for convenience, you can still achieve the time lapse effect. This is also ideal for posting on social media since it will be in the right size and format for Instagram.

These are the 4 easy steps to create a time lapse video on your phone:

  1. Set up your phone on a stable surface, or use a phone tripod.
  2. Depending on the subject and where to plan on publishing it, pick between filming on portrait or landscape mode.
  3. Film your video. If you have an iPhone which is iOS 8 or higher you can open your camera application and swipe over to the ‘time-lapse’ mode, which is make everything much easier for you.
  4. If you’re using ‘time-lapse’ mode then the video will automatically compress when you finish shooting, but if you filmed a regular video you’ll have to enter it into a video editing app and speed it up.


Mobile apps for making time lapse videos

Using an app on your phone will of course save you a lot of time and hassle, so these are the recommended apps for how to make a time lapse video with minimal effort.

For Android users:

1. Microsoft Hyperlapse Mobile

2. Lapse It

3. Framelapse


For iPhone users:

1.Lapse It Pro

2. Hyperlapse from Instagram

3. Lapse It

You can also check out this article specifically about how to make a time lapse video on your phone.


how to make a time lapse video


You can also hire someone else to make your video for you! For any of your video production needs you can contact Nostairway today for a chat and a free consultation.

how to make a time lapse video