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time-lapse for video

Our Director of Photography (DOP) loves to shoot time-lapse on DSLR. And why not? It looks great. It also gives a unique perspective to a location or project. Whether you consider it as timelapse, time-lapse or time lapse, it’s a fantastic effect that can be super effective. More on why we love time-lapse below.

Tricking Time

You’re probably able to conjure up an image when you hear the term “time-lapse”. Maybe you imagine a sped-up sunset or a sandcastle built in fast-motion? A time-lapse is a manipulation of time. Events that would normally take hours or days are condensed into a much shorter period. Essentially, time-lapse takes a picture of something at regular intervals from one static location. Then these pictures are stitched together and played, making time appear as if it’s moving faster and lapsing.  This video we Created for Food Banks Canada makes good use of time-lapse.

Time-lapse Applications

Just try to look away from a time-lapse. You can’t! You need to see the end. It’s a compelling visual for an audience, demanding attention. Plus, the built-in idea that it’s not going to take that much time appeals to our short attention spans.

Time-lapse is a great way to show progress, growth, volume, construction, a day in the life, the set-up of an event, the passage of time, etc. Any visual that has motion and progression works for timelapse. Without enough motion, the footage will look more like a photo. You want to tell a story by showing the remodeling of your business, the foot traffic at your booth during a trade show or how your product is assembled. You can use time-lapse to create a short video for social media or even for comedic effect. It’s a new angle and even things you’ve seen many times over will look different in this format.

In 2012, an award-winning documentary used time-lapse to illustrate climate change. Nature photographer James Balog and his crew set up cameras in Greenland, Iceland and Alaska to show how, over a very short period of time, glacial ice was disappearing. They did this using time-lapse images. This trailer shows some of the amazing and disturbing results.

Time-Lapse Preparation

time-lapse for video
Mount your camera on a stable, sturdy tripod

Be prepared because time-lapse takes time. Walk around the area and consider the shot before setting up. Think of the time-lapse as the single best shot you can take if you only had one snap to capture an image. Make sure your camera is on a stable, sturdy tripod that won’t be knocked over by weather or bumped by a passing person for the full duration of the shoot. Now sit back, relax and wait. Oh, and there are also some things you want to avoid.


IntervaloWHAT?  An intervalometer is an interval timer. When you’re recording a time-lapse, you need to take pictures at regular intervals. That could mean every ten seconds or every two minutes. However often you’re taking pictures, it can be difficult and arduous to do so manually. With your trusty intervalometer, you can let the machine kept track of time and never miss a shot. Some cameras have this feature built-in or you can use an external model.

Time Travel with Us

Key West Video loves a good time-lapse sequence. Whether you need to show off a construction project or emphasize the volume of business at your shop, we can use time-lapse to connect with your audience. Give us a call today for a free quote on corporate video.

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