How To Make a Time Lapse Video

7 January 2022

Time lapse videos have become increasingly popular, and are now much simpler to create. That’s thanks to consumer-level products in the digital age making this video technique accessible for aspiring filmmakers, as well as pro videographers. What was once only possible by professional videographers with high-end tools is now made easier than ever to experiment with.  

These days, whether you’re making a GoPro time lapse, using a video camera, or using the best budget time lapse camera, you can improve your results and limit the risk of disappointment with just a little bit of understanding. 

By speeding things up, videos can highlight the beauty of things like transition and movement. So, if you’re wondering how to time lapse a video, you’re in a good spot. Let’s find out how to create something great with some time lapse video tips.

What exactly is a time lapse video?

Time-lapse videos are essentially a large number of still images captured on a time lapse camera over a long period of time, played back at a quick speed. It results in a representation of a large passage of time played seamlessly and fast. A time lapse is created by the capture rate of the images being slower than the playback rate, which results in time appearing to move quickly on playback.

How To Make a Time Lapse VideoHow To Make a Time Lapse Video

Can any camera create a time lapse video?

How To Make a Time Lapse VideoHow To Make a Time Lapse Video

To some degree, yes. Technically any camera that can take a photo can be used to create a time lapse video, but certain things make some more practical than others. For example, time lapse videos involve hundreds of images captured over a long period of time, which would be incredibly time-consuming with a regular camera. So, it’s much easier with some sort of built-in automation.

When choosing a dedicated camera for time lapse purposes, we suggest starting your search in the DSLR or Mirrorless markets, as these cameras have larger image sensors for capturing better quality images. Low light settings are no issue, and these cameras have more advanced manual functions.

Other things to look for in a time lapse camera include:

  • A built-in time lapse mode or intervalometer to control how many shots are taken, or compatibility with a remote intervalometer
  • Manual settings
  • Large storage capacity
  • Water-proofing, for when you’re filming for a long period of time outdoors
  • Long battery life
How To Make a Time Lapse VideoHow To Make a Time Lapse Video

What else do I need?

The type of equipment needed to master your time lapse can vary depending on what you’re shooting. Still, there are a few accessories you’ll need no matter what. These include:

How To Make a Time Lapse VideoHow To Make a Time Lapse Video
  • A tripod. For your time lapse to look seamless on playback, you want your field of view to remain as steady as possible, and the easiest way to achieve this is with a sturdy tripod for time lapse videos.
  • A large capacity memory card. A time lapse video is made up of hundreds, if not thousands, of photos. Making a time lapse that’s one minute long, would mean capturing between 1,440 and 1,800 images. Knowing how long your video will end up being is a good way to gauge if your memory card is large enough, or if you’ll need another.
  • An intervalometer. As mentioned, an intervalometer is a device that can automatically set up your camera to take a predetermined number of images at a set interval over a period of time. It saves you from sitting around for hours and manually pressing the shutter of your camera.
  • Spare battery or battery grip. Taking a high volume of images will use up battery power, quickly. To make sure you don't have to call it quits before you’ve captured all your images, pack a spare battery, or two. For continuity when shooting, consider using a battery grip if your camera is compatible to allow for the use of two batteries.

Final hints for creating next-level time lapse videos

  • Use manual focus, and adjust your ISO, shutter speed, and aperture manually. Autofocus is awesome for taking sharp, still images, but if you use it for time lapse videos, you run the risk of your camera choosing a different focal point and lighting settings with each shot, causing distracting shifts during your time lapse. 
  • Shoot your images in RAW mode. If your camera allows it, do this for post-production ease. You can easily adjust your RAW files to be of consistent exposure and white balance levels, with batch edits available in most software to drastically speed up the process.
How To Make a Time Lapse VideoHow To Make a Time Lapse Video
  • Finalise your video in a video editing program. If you’re creating your time lapse manually and not using an in-camera time lapse mode, there are many high-quality software options available that all do an excellent job such as Filmora, Corel VideoStudio Pro, and iMovie.

Experiment with time lapse today

Now that you’ve got all these tips on how to make a time lapse video, you’re well on your way to making some movie magic! Browse Ted’s blog for photography advice, or take a look around at high-quality photography equipment.

Save $10*

When you subscribe to ClubTed today!