Complete Guide on How to Make Time Lapse Video


Creating time lapse effect videos are easier than you might think. In this guide, we will guide you through the entire process of making a time lapse video on your own. All you need is a camera, tripod and post-production software.

Part1. What is Time Lapse and how does it work?

Before we get down to business, let’s first learn some basic. Time lapse photography is an amazing cinematography often used by films makers or video producers. It is a technique which allows one to compress time. To put it simply, a scene or event, which often takes days, months, or even years to happen, can be viewed in a few seconds, giving you the illusion that time moves fast and lapsing. It’s sometimes regarded as the opposite f slow motion.

For example, it usually takes days for a pumpkin to rot, however in time lapse videos we can see this whole progress in 13 second:

Building process of One World Observatory in New York City takes 11 years of time to finish and this video shows everything from its start to end in 2 minutes:

How it works?

We all know the fact that videos are actually made of photos. The average frame rate per second of a video ranges from 24 fps to 60 fps, which means a 1-second-video is comprised of 24 to 60 images. To make time lapse videos, we will just need to shoot individual still photos for a specific event at intervals, then combine these images together and turn them into a video by following this principle. For example, the rotting pumpkin video is about 13s at 24 fps, which means its comprised of 312 photos. Knowing this, we can calculate how many days it usually takes for a pumpkin to rot, and then break time to 31 pieces, and take a photo of it at fixed intervals.

Last step, load all images to a video editor in orders, and then combine them into a video. Then you will see the final video as shown above. This is the most often used and preferred way to make a time lapse.

There is a much easier way to do simple time lapse videos however. As we mentioned above, time lapse is kind of the opposite of slow motion. Therefore a much simpler way to do this is shooting a long video, and then accelerating it to get the same effect. Here we will elaborate on those two methods.

Part2: How to make Time-Lapse Video: The Easiest Way

The easiest way to make a time lapse video is to shoot a long non-stop video an then speed it up in post-production. Depending on your raw footage, you can speed it up 24 times (of course you can change this speed depending on your actual situation.). These kinds of time lapse videos are all over YouTube at the moment due to its simplicity. Although it’s quite easy to shoot, cons of this kind of method is obvious:

  1. Raw footage will be huge is you record the entire time. This brings difficulty to post production as there are very few video editors which are able to process such huge files.
  2. Video quality is a great issue, it’s just too difficult to do some fine tunes to this extra-large video clip.

How to speed up videos? Check out this tutorial>>

Part3: How to make time lapse video the professional & preferred way

Compared with the speed-up method, a most- ofen used technique is to shoot separate image at intervals and then combine them together to make a video. This allows you to do fine tuning on individual image and thus you will be able to make much more professional time lapse video effects. Post-production is very simple, just combine all images together in order and your video is finished.

First things first, let’s get started and shoot some still images. Be sure to go get l the equipment you are going to use later.

Item#1: Tripod.

When shooting videos, your camera needs to be very stable, all photos needs to be taken at the exact same location. Therefore a good tripod is essential. Please note that any shakes from camera will translate into your images, so to make sure the camera doesn’t shake or move when it’s working, choose a rock solid location to set up your tripod.

Item#2: Camera.

There aren’t many limitations when it comes to cameras, a DLSR will work, point-n-shoot will also work, or even your iPhone or Android device can make a perfect tie lapse camera. But not all cameras are born equal. They do have their own pros and cons.

Some more advanced DLSR cameras have built-in interval timers As we mentioned above, the key to time lapse videos is that you need to shoot images from the same location at intervals.

And those cameras can shoot all images automatically, which is much easier compared with manual mode.

Some best time lapse cameras like Brinno TLC200 Pro HDR, Go Pro HERO will worth your try. Learn how to choose the best time lapse cameras here>>


If however you don’t have such advanced devices, one alternative option is to press the shoot button manually all by yourself. It just needs extra patience though.

There’s one more choice, most DSLR cameras have remote controls that are compatible with them. They don’t cost too much (around $50 or so) and they can hel reduce the hand word and will help greatly. Iphones an Androids have their compatible apps to do the trick as well.

Once get your camera, you may refer to the video below to learn the best settings for Gopro Hero4 advised from professionals:

Step#1: Shoot Time-Lapse photos.

Once you are equipped with all necessary gears, now it’s time to pick up a good video idea and then go shoot your time lapse images. There are many great video tutorials on YouTube to help youlearn how to shoot great time lapses:

Step#2: Post-production.

Post-production part can be quite easy. Any video editor, even the most simple and free one will do the trick. We highly recommend you using Movavi video editor, learn more details here>>. Because video editors are not make for photos, so they won’t be able to process or optimize your images, say if you want to make changes to color, it’s best you do this work with photo editing tools like Adobe Photoshop. Once done, import all images to video editor, then export. A time lapse video is finished The video below will tell you how to do post production with Final Cut Pro:



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