How to Make a Time Lapse Video – Best Practices

How to Make a Time Lapse Video – Best Practices

Think back to that gorgeous sunset you saw on your last vacation in a tropical paradise.

What if there was a way to relive those cotton candy skies as they changed color? You can experience the progression unfold with a time lapse video.

Similarly, time-lapse videos can help capture other events like snowfall, blooming flowers, a busy street corner, and more. Many people think of these as the opposite of slow motion.

Time-lapse videos are essentially a series of still images captured in real-time, but at super low frame rates. And they’re quite easy to make nowadays, with most smartphones having a dedicated time-lapse function.

In other words, your phone will automatically stitch the images together. When played back in video mode, you can speed these up and watch the magic happen all over again.

Here we talk about the best practices on how to make a time lapse video.

How to use the native time-lapse feature on your phone

First, if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to get the job done, whip out your phone and put together a readymade time-lapse video using your phone camera.

  1. Open up your native camera app.
  2. If you have an iPhone, you’ll see the Time-lapse option near the shutter button. If you’re using an Android device, you may need to scroll through the options and hit ‘More’ to find the time-lapse option.
  3. If you find your phone does not come with an in-built time lapse feature, check out the apps Hyperlapse here for iPhone users and Framelapse here for Android phone.
  4. When selected, you will see a red record button appear on your screen. Tap it when you have positioned your camera correctly.
  5. When you’re happy with what you’ve captured, tap the record button once more.
  6. You can find your fully stitched-together time-lapse video in your gallery.
  7. When you’re ready to jazz up your video or want to mess around with the speed, head to ChopChop’s online video editor. Here, you’ll be able to mess around with the speed, add sharp titles, graphics, music, and even a voiceover to take your creation to the next level.

Best practices for recording a time-lapse video

Now, we’ll go over some best practices that will help you with eye-catching time-lapse videos that do full justice to your subject.

1) Do a recce and try to frame your subject carefully

Walk around the area you’re going to film, and try out a couple of different framing techniques. All your shots will be captured in this steady frame only, so be super intentional about what you include.

2) Charge your phone

Ensure that your phone has an adequate battery supply. If not, connect it to a portable charger as you’re likely going to be filming for several minutes. Make sure you’re not leaving your phone out in the sun for too long.

3) Carry a tripod or create a makeshift tripod for steady shots

Remember to use a gimble/tripod and secure your phone so that it won’t tilt or fall over. If none are handy, use whatever you have in your surroundings–books, rocks, walls, you get the drill.

4) Experiment with speed settings

Play around with changing the speed during different intervals of your time-lapse to create added interest and emphasize the ‘climax’.

5) Add filters that elevate the mood

Once you’re ready to edit, you can even add funky filters to add to the mood of your videos. If you’ve filmed a busy crosswalk for instance, add a black-and-white filter to give it that slick, noir feel.

For even more advanced tips and advice on useful equipment, check out this article from Studio Binder.

To learn more about the different types of shots you can include in your time lapse clip, check out this video by Matthew Vandeputte.

Examples of Successful Time Lapse Video

Now, let’s take a look at some successful time lapse videos and see what they got right.

This video has over 25 million views, so you know it has really blown it out of the water. But it isn’t just your standard time-lapse.

Instead, the creator uses a different clip that shows him moving around in different parts of the world. It’s an interesting play on the conventional time-lapse, and adds additional visual interest.

The concept is definitely a novel one and will be enough to inspire curiosity for viewers to click on the video. The travel aspect of it also makes it appeal to a larger group of audiences.


This time-lapse is an effective one due to its sheer simplicity. Not only does the creator use photos to capture herself at different points, but she also swaps out the images on a weekly basis.

This makes it easier for her in the editing room to put all the stills together and makes the growth more noticeable from one week to another.

The use of something as simple and classic as the black and white filter also adds a certain amount of depth and moodiness to the video, even though the subject matter is fairly mundane.

Are you looking to shoot a time-lapse video?

Armed with our best tips, you’re now all set to get out there and make your very own time lapse video.

And don’t forget to check out ChopChop’s newbie-friendly online video editing tool, which can help you tell the most impactful story with your time-lapse video in minutes.

Add some narration with our in-built voiceover recorder, set the mood with selections from our audio library, or throw in some cool text to add context about the place and time.

You can sign up for early access here (it’s completely free).

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