How to create a time-lapse video, step-by-step

Time-lapse is a wonderful way to capture the essence of something, of a scene before you. A sunrise, or sunset. A busy city scene. The tide, as it goes out or comes back in. Buildings under construction are another popular subject, especially if you’ve got a good angle to watch one come to life, from the foundations to completion.

A time-lapse movie can also be used to capture a journey. Walking through city streets, or traveling on a train, or in a car, from one place to another. It isn’t only a method for capturing a stationary scene.

How to shoot a time-lapse video?

Time-lapse videos are an amazing way to capture a subject over a longer period of time than you would ordinarily take a picture or film something. The good news is, you don't need specialist equipment to create a time lapse video.

Anyone with an iPhone and a Mac can create it. You can do this one of two ways:

#1: Film using Time Lapse mode (iPhone)

  1. Open the camera app;
  2. Scroll along to Time Lapse
  3. Press the red button to start filming (a tripod might be useful if you plan on filming something stationary over a period of hours or days);
  4. Press the red button to stop.

#2: Make a time-lapse video from photos

Again, using a tripod or stable service, you can take multiple - potentially dozens, even hundreds - of pictures of the same subject. It’s important that your iPhone is positioned exactly the same way, otherwise, the angle of each picture is going to be different, which means you won’t achieve the desired result.

Once you have enough pictures to capture what you were hoping for, you need to stitch them together to create the final time-lapse video. One way to do that is to download the macOS app GlueMotion. It's a perfect app for time-lapse photographers that lets you batch edit, deflicker and assemble sequences of images into time-lapse movies.

You can crop, rotate, flip and adjust the colors of your photos, inclining the exposure, saturation or brightness. In a matter of minutes, instead of hours, GlueMotion will have combined your photos to create the perfect time-lapse video.

For anyone who’s serious about filming a time lapse, you might be wondering, is there a way to gain more control than using the camera app? Yes, thankfully there is.

Gain more control over your time lapse settings

If you are filming using the iPhone camera app, there are no speed controls. It films everything at the same speed, with the option to make changes only when you are editing. Unless you download the free Hyperlapse app, which makes it easier to control the time-lapse speed.

When you record using Hyperlapse, it shows during recording that for every 6 seconds of recording it produces 1 second of time-lapse video. Once you’ve finished filming, use the slider in the app to change how slow or fast it plays the final time-lapse video. Further edits and changes can be made if you upload the video to your macOS device.

Another way to gain even more control is with the OSnap app. There is a free version or a Pro version for $3.99 from the App Store. Creating a new time-lapse project using Snap OSnap Pro gives you the ability to speed up and slow down filming, record a voiceover, and even film at a higher resolution. It is ideal for those wanting high-quality time lapse videos.

Instead of recording a video, you can always go the photographic route. Taking multiple pictures, then stitching them together in an editing session to create a beautiful time-lapse video.

Time-lapse photography and editing

When you are setting these pictures up, it pays to remember a few photographic essentials:

  • Position your iPhone in the best location possible to capture the subject. Ideally, use a tripod to avoid balance issues. Keep the iPhone steady.
  • Use leading lines. Whenever possible, give the viewer a way of coming into the scene, from the foreground to the main subject and into the background.
  • Frame your scene using the rule of thirds.

Take the weather, sky, and lighting into consideration. In some countries, at this time of year, it gets dark early. If you've got subjects that are going to move through the frame, such as a train or a plane, make sure you’ve framed the picture(s) the right way as to capture that movement.

With GlueMotion, several hundred or thousands of images can be batch edited and successfully stitched together to create the perfect time-lapse video.

Once you are happy with the pictures you've captured - there will probably be dozens or hundreds - you can edit them using a macOS app when they're uploaded or synced using iCloud Photo Library to your Mac.

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