“You are going to babysit your camera for a few hours, but in the end you’ll be able to show the world something that couldn’t be seen otherwise.”—Filipe Samora, VideoBlocks Contributor

It’s no surprise that time lapse footage is one of our top-selling categories in the Contributor Marketplace. It’s a visually pleasing yet time efficient way to cram a large amount of eye candy into a short video—and the concept is simple enough, right? Choose your location, set up your camera, and capture the shots you need at set intervals.

Nowadays, anyone can create a time lapse video—it’s even built into our phone camera settings. Yet, there are some pretty distinct differences between amateur time lapses and professional ones. That’s why we reached out to some of our top-selling contributors to get advice and tips for how they get top-notch results. Use these tips to level-up your time lapse techniques and boost your marketplace sales.


#1—Keep It Stable with Tripods

As long as you frame your shot with a strong focal point, you can capture some amazing time lapse footage with only your camera. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, you can also throw in a tripod for good measure—your biceps will thank you. In fact, contributor Filipe Samora prefers to keep his methods just this simple. His approach is a minimalist one with only a camera and tripod. Early in his process he realized that he was “too hung up on gear and not so much on developing a vision, which is perhaps the crux of time lapse footage.”

View this time lapse clip of the Sydney Harbour from day to night.


#2—Pace Yourself with Intervalometers

Intervalometers are also a key tool for your bare bones time lapse gear kit. This piece of technology activates your camera’s shutter at a certain interval over a specified period of time. It gives you greater control and precision over your shots and can also be a life saver for when manual shots are next to impossible due to camera positioning.

View Filipe Samora’s time lapse shot of a Santorini, Greece sunset.


#3—Get the Right Rig

You can evolve your time lapses into hyperlapses by adding motion. To achieve this, contributor Nao Tharp of Sky Rock Media prefers using a six-foot dolly by Linear Motion Labs for vertical, horizontal, and linear motion. This adds a sense of “perspective and dynamism.” He also uses a Syrp Genie Mini for pans and tilt to “achieve three-axis motion that gives more cinematic look” and ups the production value.

View Sky Rock Media’s time lapse of the milky way & Tufa formation at Mono Lake.

Also a fan of creating hyperlapses, whenever contributor Yuen Man Cheung wants to capture a shot with greater camera movement, he chooses to use a handheld gimbal stabilizer. This allows for greater range and freedom of movement.

View Yuen Man Cheung’s hyperlapse clip of Sydney’s Harbour Bridge and Opera House.

Contributor Derrick Lytle uses a cable cam so he’s “able to get timelapse and video ‘aerial’ shots where it would be unsafe or illegal to fly a drone.” With strict regulations of air space, this is a clever work-around to literally take your shot to new heights.

View Derrick Lytle’s aerial time lapse of Oak Street Beach in Chicago, Illinois.

#4—Light Up Your Shots

If you’re choosing a hard-to-shoot subject such as a starry night in the background and rock formations in the foreground, you may want to add in some artificial light. According to Nao Tharp, this requires caution because “normally direct lighting with an artificial light source is not an ideal condition for astrophotography. The intense lighting can overexpose the foreground element when optimally you want to expose for the stars.”

To overcome this tough lighting situation, Nao suggests using LED panels at a low level. This subtly illuminates the foreground, without overpowering the beauty of the starry night.

View Sky Rock Media’s astro time lapse of star trails over Native American petroglyphs.

Artistry First, Gear Second

“Time lapse is a great expressional technique to illustrate time passage in a way that human eyes cannot perceive.”—Nao Tharp, VideoBlocks Contributor

Getting professional-level gear can elevate your creativity and open up possibilities that may not have otherwise existed, yet it’s not a replacement for innovation and artistic vision. Don’t let fancy equipment get in the way of what you really want to create and the feelings you really want to evoke. The most important tip for taking your time lapse to the next level is to always, always start with an idea first, and then let the gear guide you from there.


Explore Our Time Lapse Library