I often get asked how much time lapse photography I can capture in a normal day. The simple answer – anything from 1 to 30. There are many different styles of time lapse from locked off tripod shots to vast sweeping moves.
Each of these disciplines requires different equipment and take varying lengths of time to capture. I will briefly describe each of the different time lapse styles and how many sequences you could expect in a typical day.
For the sake of simplicity, each example given will be based on capturing a busy city with minimal location changes between shots. When the locations are further apart the amount of shots possible in a day will decrease. All sequence lengths in this example will be given at a frame rate of 24 (this can be changed dependent upon your production needs).
Static Time lapse
The traditional way of capturing timelapse photography is with a static camera locked off on a tripod. Perfect for capturing hectic views with lots of movement, such as cityscapes, sunsets, tides changing, moonrises, plants growing, etc.
Capture time per sequence: 6 minutes*
Setup time: 5 minutes
Number of sequences in a day: 30
Sequence length (10-12 seconds)
*My most common subject is city scenes, and this would be for a typical street scene. Capturing a flower growing could take many weeks.
Sunset and sunrises Timelapses
Another common request is capturing the transition from day to night (or vice versa). Often these will be captured on a locked off tripod, but it is possible to use a motion control setup if required (more on this later).
Commonly I will utilise 2-3 cameras to provide a variety of angles. One camera can be setup to capture the entire sequence as one seamless shot, and the other two cameras can be used to capture detail shots – such as closeups of skyscraper windows or traffic whizzing past.
Capture time per sequence: 4-5 hours
Setup time: 10 minutes
Number of sequences in a day: 1 sunset/sunrise, plus a variety of other angles. 10-15 static sequences in total.
Sequence length (20-30 seconds)
Motion Contol Timelapse
If you’ve ever seen a timelapse video where the camera is slowly moving as the world moves by, that was quite likely captured with a motion control rig.
My setup consists of a 2m slider which sits upon 3 tripods. This has a pan/tilt head along with a sliding motion. Everything is motorised so the system can be set up and left to its own devices.
It can provide beautifully smooth and slow movements, which contrast perfectly to the fast-paced nature of timelapse photography.
Capture time per sequence: 20 minutes (but could be set up to run for weeks if required)
Setup time: 20 minutes
Number of sequences in a day: 8
Sequence length (10-12 seconds)
Whenever you see vast sweeping motions where the camera apparently flies along the street – those will be hyperlapse. They provide a sense of depth and dynamic movement that is hard to capture through other means, often giving a video some ‘wow’ factor.
Typically, the camera will rotate around a fixed point whilst the world whizzes by. These are quite intensive to capture, and take a long time for each sequence.
Capture time per sequence: 45 minutes
Setup time: 15 minutes
Number of sequences in a day: 6
Sequence length (4-6 seconds)
Any of these disciplines can be mixed to suit your own requirements, and the numbers should only be used as a rough guideline. If you have a timelapse photography project that you’d like to discuss, I can provide you with accurate estimates of what you can expect.
If you’d like to see more examples of these in action – then you can see my latest commercial showreel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XHCZaDok34 Or if you have any questions please drop me a message, and I will be happy to help.