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Ideas for Time-lapse Video

Liza Brown
Liza Brown Originally published Nov 14, 22, updated Mar 27, 24

Are you thinking of stepping out of the familiar world of still photography to make a time-lapse video?

As you all know I am a fan of travel videos and time-lapse video because why not? There is no denying that time-lapse techniques are a perfect medium for travel videos.

In this article will give you some ideas to get started in time-lapse video or photography and let's define what a time-lapse video and what makes them great.

In this article
  1. What is Time Lapse
  2. How Time-lapse Works
  3. How to Capture Times-lapse Video

What is Time Lapse

Time-lapse is a creative filming and video editing technique that manipulates how the frame rate is captured. Frame rate is the number of images or frames appearing in a second of video. In most videos, the frame rate and playback speed are the same. In a time-lapse video, the frame rate is stretched out far more: when played back at average speed, time appears to be sped up.

Time-lapse can also refer to a camera's shutter speed (How long the camera's shutter remains open to let light in). A similar effect to time-lapse is found in stop-motion videos. The subject doesn't move but seems to be in motion because it's manually or repeatedly moved and then photographed. The images are then strung together to create video-like motion.

time lapse car video

How Time-lapse Works

Time-lapse photography is a technique that records a scene or objects that change at a slow speed and turns it into a video that plays back at high speed.

Most time-lapse videos are projected at a speed of 30 frames per second. The frame rate of your time-lapse video can be determined in the editing process, but you will need to account for how quickly the action is taking place in the camera or your video will be a collection if stills. Consider what FPS you want to use in your video. You need to capture that many frames per second to create a time-lapse effect. If you're shooting a 10 second video at 30fps, you should end up with 300 images.

What equipment needed for time-lapse video?

Time-lapse photography requires only a few special pieces of equipment.

1. Camera / Smartphones

Technically any point and shoot camera or smartphone can be used for time-lapse video, the easiest ones to work are DSLR or mirrorless cameras, some even have an in camera intervalometer (often called a time-lapse feature or time-lapse mode), which means you'll need less equipment to take great time-lapse video.

2. High-capacity Memory Card

For the best results, shoot in RAW format which takes image in the highest resolution with actual image dimensions. You'll need to prepare for very large RAW file sizes, so bring multiple high capacity memory cards.


A tripod is essential to time-lapse video or photography, because the camera needs to stay perfectly still in order to emphasize the steady movement of your subject and to avoid overlay blurry videos or photos.

How to Capture Times-lapse Video

A technique that was once found only in video editing software is now on nearly every mobile device. So what's the best way to make an amazing time-lapse video that stands apart from the rest? That depends on how you plan to capture the footage.


Most phones have a time-lapse feature in their camera app. Be advised: you will need to record for an extended period, as 30 minutes equates to about 10 seconds of footage.  Like a video camera, you will need a tripod to steady your shots. On an iPhone, you can either film a time-lapse or stitch one together from your photo collection, all without a video editor.

DSLR Camera

For DSLR camera you'll need a tripod and a device called intervalometer. The first is essential to make sure your camera is stationary and is taking photos if the exact same location without moving anywhere.

An intervalometer, or a remote control, is a device that allows you to set your camera to hit the shutter button at an interval of your choice. In other words, an intervalometer is there to let you rest aside without having a manually click the shutter button yourself.

Here are some video ideas for your time-lapse

  • Ice melting
  • Flower and plants
  • Clouds moving
  • Sunrise/sunset
  • Star movement
  • Traffic movement

Ice melting

Time-lapse is an ideal way to capture the mesmerizing transition between water and ice. Even something as simple as watching ice melt can be appealing.

Flower and plants

Flowers and plants can be beautiful to behold, but their transformation from seed to adult plant is often absolutely breathtaking. If you have an indoor plant that you are about to start growing you can set up a camera on a mount of a tripod at the angle with which you want to capture. As you water, groom or fertilize on a regular schedule, you can incorporate taking a photograph at the same time.

Clouds moving

The clouds can provide a whole host of phenomena that will both enlighten the observer to the complexities of the atmosphere or cosmos but will also provide a beautiful spectacle in the daytime, the movement of clouds can be quite spell binding and the rolling in of rain or a thunderstorm can be particularly interesting.


Shooting a sunset is more difficult. The light changes during the selected time period.

To overcome this, use remote control camera software. This can be compensated by increasing the ISO or decreasing the shutter speed as the light dims.

shoot sunset timelapse video

Star movement

At night, if the sky is clear and you are in an area dark enough, the stars in the sky can provide a beautiful time-lapse as the stars move in relation to the observer due to earths rotations.

Traffic movement

The interconnectedness of vehicles moving along busy roads, trailing light patterns, and the general hustle and bustle of city life can be brought to you in a dynamic way via time-lapse videos.

It is the smooth impression of motion which time-lapse is able to produce that can emphasize and help to invigorate something as ordinary and everyday as the coming and going of traffic.

traffic movement timelapse video

Edit your video with Wondershare Filmora

Wondershare Filmora has the action camera tool that allows you to fasten up your video without re-encoding. This means the quality of the video remains intact without any change after exporting. Here is how to convert a standard video to a time-lapse:

Step1 Download Wondershare Filmora from the official website

Free Download
Free Download

Step2 Open Filmora, then click action camera tool

Step3 Click import action cam video to import your file

import moving car video into filmora

Step4 click on the speed icon add marker button. Then drag the marker all the way over the target video.

drag marker car video

Step5 Next drag the slider under the speed tool to speed up the video according to your desire.

speed up car moving video

Step6 Lastly when done, export and save the final video.

export car move timelapse video


Hope this article can give you an idea on how to make a good time-lapse video. It's so fun doing it you will see how the things change that fast. Time-lapse content is typically just that, shorter, more visually interesting content, unlike most conventional video, time-lapse video can tell a story within just a few second. Start creating nice and creative time-lapse video now and make it as one content on your you tube channel.

Liza Brown
Liza Brown Mar 27, 24
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