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  5. Time lapse – what is it, how to do it, is it needed on the phone? Everything you need to know


21.08.2022 23:50

Time lapse – what is it, how to do it, is it needed on the phone? Everything you need to know

Smartphones and Tablets

Do you want to capture and show the changes that are taking place in the world around you? A great solution will be to create a short but effective animation using the time lapse technique. What is a time-lapse movie and how to make it? Check!

Time lapse – definition. What is time lapse?

Time lapse is an interesting combination of photography and film, which allows you to show long-lasting processes in a few seconds long material, sometimes even invisible to the human eye. A time-lapse movie like this involves taking a series of photos at longer intervals, and then combining them and displaying them in an accelerated-motion animation.

Surely you’ve seen amazing photos of clouds or stars sliding in the sky, or buds of flowers unfolding. Time lapse was used several years ago, for example in nature films, but now it has a much wider application, it has become more common and practically everyone can try an adventure with this type of animation.

Time lapse on the phone – what do you need it for?

Making a time-lapse movie doesn’t require professional equipment. Modern phones have been equipped with such technologically advanced cameras that all you need is a smartphone and a dedicated application for mobile devices, such as TimeLapse or LapseIt.

This is a good solution for those who are just starting their adventure with photography and just want to learn or test their capabilities, try out various techniques and tricks before investing in an expensive camera, tripod or an interval timer cable.

Related: Free drawing software – what free PC and tablet drawing programs are there?

Time lapse on your phone will also be an interesting diversification to the content you post on social media. Long materials will be shortened to several dozen seconds long videos containing the essence itself. This will make them more inviting to watch and therefore collect more views. Spontaneous videos will allow you to attract more followers or consolidate an already gained position.


You can portray nature or yourself in this way – time-lapse videos were very popular, in which parents compiled pictures of their children taken every day or every few days and thus documented their amazing transformation from babies to adults.

Using time lapse in practice – editing, formats, etc.

How to make a time-lapse movie? Contrary to appearances, it is not that difficult, but you need to pay attention to a few aspects before starting the right actions. While showing how day turns into night is very effective, people just starting their adventure with time-lapse will be better off by taking photos in constant lighting conditions.

The format of the photo is also important. You have to choose between RAW and JPEG. RAW has all the information about the image, including the tonal range, it is lossless and allows you to make deep changes during processing. Unfortunately, something for something, as a consequence RAW files are very large. While JPGs are a bit truncated and reduce editing possibilities, they are more compressed and better for making your first time-lapse movies. You have to reckon with the fact that you will take a huge number of photos to create a timelapse, and memory cards have their limits.

Once you have the photos, it would be nice to put them together into a film. You do not need any demanding software to edit time lapse sequences, virtually every video editor should be able to handle this task. You can bet on iMovie, Adobe Premiere or Sony Movie Studio. Remember that video has an aspect ratio of 16:9 and photos are usually 3:4, so it would be good to trim them in advance so that you can work without any problems later.

What else do you need to know about time-lapse movies?

Preparing a time-lapse movie certainly requires patience, because sometimes you have to spend many hours in one place or repeatedly return to it to take pictures when the time of day, year or weather conditions change. It’s hard to believe, but a 30-second time lapse consists of 720 photos!

time lapse

How to do time lapse? You need to determine how long the movie you want to prepare, and thus how many photos you will need and what the gaps between them will be. It all depends on the photographed scenery – if it is dynamic, such as a street in a city with people passing by and cars speeding, the frequency should be very high for the animation to be smooth and faithfully reflect reality. In this case, the interval between consecutive shots should be approximately one frame per second.

It is a bit different to make a landscape time-lapse movie when you want to show, for example, a changing sky. In this situation, photos must be played back at 24 fps, therefore the intervals between successive photos should be from 5 to 15 seconds. The slower the moving subject, the greater the intervals between consecutive shots must be.

While technical details are important, it will be most important to use your imagination and your creativity. You need to compose your shot properly to capture the details you care about the most. Stabilize the image, which is sometimes enough with a simple selfie stick and enjoy the effect you want.



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