The Art of Timelapse

We’ve all seen time lapse photography. It’s the kind of thing that gets posted on Facebook so we can marvel at the way a building grows out of the ground in a matter of seconds or a flower blooms and dies in just an instant.

The real benefit of time lapse is showing something that we are unable to view in real time. A motorway cutting its way through a chalk hillside takes years – yet, with time lapse, you can see its progress in seconds.

New technology has revolutionised time lapse. In the old days, you needed to use a video camera and record onto tape in real time – therefore, if it took 40 minutes for something to happen, you had to roll tape for 40 minutes. Then it took 40 minutes to input the tape into the edit system. Then it was a question of simply speeding it up by 1000% to get aprox. 10 seconds of finished footage. But obviously a tower block being built takes far longer than 40 minutes – well, you do the math, as they say.
Now you just need a stills camera to create a time lapse video. It produces great quality HD images, and it’s better under low light. Personally, I take a series of photographs over a period of time. One frame every two seconds over 20 minutes will produce approximately 20 seconds of finished video.

It’s quick and easy to transfer the photographs on to computer. Using a programme like QuickTime, it’s simple to then compile those photos into a video. The end result is a high quality video that can be used in our Final Cut Pro edit suite. – and it’s great for corporate videos to add a real visual impact.

At Visual Culture, we have a few options for time lapse photography.

  • The first is using a video camera and setting it to capture a frame at a desired duration. This can be cumbersome and not the most efficient way.
  • The second option for shorter time lapse sequences is using our Digital SLR camera, set on a tripod with a remote intervalometer attached. It’s easy to set the remote timer, but for those jobs that require more than a few hours to be captured, battery life can be an issue.
  • Our last time lapse capture system is the all in one package. The DSLR is housed in a waterproof box with a window on the front and can be easily accessed by a door to change media cards etc. The system can either be powered by mains power or it has a solar panel attached. This system has been a huge success when capturing construction over a few months, as you can see by the video above.

Republished with permission from Simon Banks at Tallboy Media UK.