Introduction to Time Lapse | Tutorial & Tips – BTC Lab #6


A time lapse is a method of filming slow actions by taking a series of single pictures, or long videos, over a period of time and then putting them together to show the action happening very quickly.

Break the Couch Lab is a series of videos in wich we study and research each time a new filmmaking skill.

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More about timelapse: 

What is time lapse and when to use it?

A method of filming slow actions by taking a series of single pictures over a period of time and then putting them together to show the action happening very quickly

Some examples of the use of a time-lapse are the following:

  • To show time passing (e.g. sunset – night – sunrise. The night has past)
  • To “speed up” a lengthy process (e.g. assembly of IKEA furniture)
  • To show character dedication (e.g. time-lapse of the main character making a sculpture)

But you shouldn’t limit your creativity to the above.

What you need to shoot your own?

  1. Smart phone with a time lapse camera app (Android, iOS)
    1. Advantages:
      1. Easy to use
      2. No expensive equipment
      3. Highly portable
    2. Disadvantages
      1. Lower image quality
      2. File size and duration limitations
      3. Poor low light performance

– OR –

  1. Digital camera (Compact camera, Compact DSLR, Action camera [GoPro])
    1. Advantages:
      1. High quality (4K) and can have some manual control
      2. Affordable
      3. Portable
    2. Disadvantages
      1. Cannot change lenses
      2. Cannot have full manual control
      3. Image resolution limits post-production effects

– OR –

  1. DSLR
    1. Advantages:
      1. Maximum quality (Over 4K), can use lenses
      2. Full manual control over: exposure, aperture, ISO, white balance, etc.
      3. Pan and zoom effects within the frame in post-production are possible without loss of image quality.
    2. Disadvantages:
      1. Expensive equipment
      2. Heavy and big equipment
      3. Complicated to setup and use

How to set up the equipment

We set the tripod, then attach the rotating head and finally we attach the camera. We decide how long the time lapse will be and adjust the rotating head accordingly. The rotating head has the following pace, 360 degrees in 60 minutes and rotates anticlockwise.

For a fixed time lapse (no camera movement) we omit the rotating head and attach the camera directly on the tripod.

Camera settings


Ideally we should set all settings to manual. But the camera doesn’t permit then we try to set alt least manual exposure. The reason is that if light conditions change over time then an automatic exposure will produce be very different photos.

Posted on November 14, 2016, in BTC Labs and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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