HOW TO Make time lapse

Timelapse photography is, basically, a type of stop-motion animation. Thousands of shots, taken over a long period of time, and then spliced together and sped up—flip-book style—to create the sensation of flowers blooming in seconds or herds of wildebeest running madly around the plains as though the Benny Hill theme were part of their natural migration patterns.

This video—which has some great behind-the-scenes/how-they-did-it clips—serves as an introduction to a whole gallery of timelapse videos*. Once those have inspired you, check out this handy guide to creating your own timelapse photography using a digital camera, some kind of interval timer (either built-in, or rigged), a tripod and a backup external battery supply (motorcycle batteries are suggested!). Plus, get tips for improving your timelapse game from a BBC Earth photographer.

*Not all the videos are viewable outside the UK, but I found several that I could watch in the U.S. Don't give up!

BBC: Wildlife Finder Timelapse Gallery

(Via madge)


  1. This is interesting to me because I’ve just started making my own time-lapse videos. They’re pretty rudimentary so far, but I’ve got a few up at:

    The equipment I use for this is fairly basic:

    Old Canon Powershot A80 (The P&S cameras have a more robust shutter mechanism and can take more pictures before they wear out than a DSLR)

    AC Adapter

    16GB CF (surprisingly, this works with my 5 year old camera)

    Cheap tripod

    Clamp to hold the shutter button down

    Then I use VirtualDub to string the images together and crop/resize it to 1080p or 720p. The hardware setup doesn’t allow for any control over interval or exposure (it uses the same settings as the first shot for all subsequent ones), but it’s a good start for getting used to the techniques.

    I’m working on getting CHDK ( installed on my new S90, which will allow custom intervalometer scripts allowing for automatic exposure control etc.

  2. As well as the animated-plasticine-cum-Benny-Hill-cum-Addicted-to-Lovesque official video already linked above, you can see (the real) Paolo Nutini performing Pencil Full of Lead at one of Jools Holland’s Hootenannies here:

    Here he is being interviewed about his Fruit of the Loom underpants by Graham Norton, alongside Anna Paquin and Mitchell & Webb:

  3. Here’s one I did… super low tech. Just pointing a camera phone every few days as a local hotel undergoing renovations:

  4. These two are my favorites.
    One of a FIRST Robotics team over 12 hours

    And one of the same team over the entire 6 week Build Season http://www

    I think it had around 60,000 photos in it.

  5. I seem to recall the moon base doors in Kubrick’s 2001 were shot time lapse and took 9 hours to open on super smooth clockwork gears.

  6. (I work at the BBC and I’m responsible for BBC Wildlife Finder including this collection)

    I glad you like the video :)

    re availability of clips outside the UK, as you’ve noticed some clips are available internationally some aren’t. Unfortunately rights restrictions limit our ability to make all clips available outside the UK. Sorry.

    Where we can we’re working through the rights issues and making clips available for all – beyond those on the timelapse collection we have already published quite a lot (mainly focusing on the David Attenborough’s archive) and we’re processing more.

  7. A very clever, low budget solution to time-lapse panning I devised uses a common household timer, the type with the large, circular dial in front. Turn it on it’s back and mount a platform for your camera on top of the rotating dial and you’ve got an instant, slow moving rotator rig! A little velcro and/or duct tape and you’re off and running.

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