Last week I showed you one of my favorite time lapse videos in our Videos of the Week blog. Want to learn how to create your own time lapse masterpiece? Here is everything you need to know to make your own time lapse video using a DSLR camera.

What’s that? You don’t own a DSLR camera? No need to worry! VideoBlocks is giving away a Canon T3i DSLR camera for free! All you have to do is show us a picture of your ultimate video editing set-up. Submit your picture and have your friends vote on it! In the end, the picture with the most votes will win a Canon T3i DSLR camera (with lens) and a full year subscription to Want to learn more? Click here to go to the contest


You’re going to need a few things before you start capturing your time lapse video.

  • DSLR Camera (it is possible to use a point-and-shoot camera, but I wouldn’t recommend it)
  • Intervalometer 
  • Tripod

What’s an intervalometer? It is a remote control that will allow you to set the camera to shoot automatically at a designated time period (ie, every second, every 5 minutes, every hour). These typically do not come with the cameras but are available for about $40-$60. You can also download software to turn your laptop into an intervalometer if you prefer that method.

Make sure you have a battery for your camera with a long life, as well as a memory card that can hold hundreds (or even thousands) of pictures.

Set Up the Camera:

Take some time to set up a nicely framed shot. Make sure the camera is level and is in a place where it is not going to get bumped or knocked over. You’re going to want to put your camera on manual mode. If you don’t do this, you’ll see a lot of annoying flickering in your final project since the camera will constantly be trying to gauge lighting and shutter speeds. Make sure to turn off auto white balance, too. Set it to manual or custom instead. Take plenty of test shots to make sure you have the right exposure and shutter speed for your subject.

Set Up the Intervalometer:

Now you need to decide how often you are going to snap a shot. Do you want your final product to look choppy or smooth? Each style has its own artistic uses, so choose whichever is going to give the right look for your subject. If you want a smooth time lapse video, keep the intervals between shots short. If you want it to appear choppier, keep the intervals long. And remember, the length of the interval is entirely relative to how long you plan to shoot. Shooting once every 10 minutes will create a smooth video if you’re planning on capturing shots for 24 hours, but if you’re just shooting for 2 hours it will appear choppy. Once you have the settings to your liking, hook up the intervalometer for your camera and get started!

During the Shoot:

During the shoot it is imperative that you do not touch the camera! Even the slightest movement can cause a shake in your time lapse that can make your hours of work useless. Do your best to just leave it alone. You’ll have plenty of time to make adjustments in post.

Compiling the Images:

Once your time lapse is done shooting, you’ll be left with hundreds or thousands of still images. Now you need to line up all of those pictures into a continuous sequence to create the illusion of a video. I suggest doing this in Quicktime Pro 7, but you can also download software that is made specifically for creating time lapse image sequences (such as this program called Time Lapse Assembler). Once you have compiled all of the images, you can take your sequence into a video editing program and adjust the speed and add it to your larger video projects!

If this all sounds like too much work, don’t forget that offers plenty of time lapse videos that you can use in your next project! Click below to download one for free!

And don’t forget to enter our contest to win a Canon T3i DSLR camera! Submissions are being accepted through September 15, 2011. Get your entries in now!

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