Glossary

Timelapse video

What is timelapse?

Timelapse videos give us the sensation of speeding up time because that is essentially what this technique does. Timelapse functions by compressing extended periods of time (such as hours or even entire days) into seconds of minutes. Thanks to timelapse photography, we're able to observe the delicate movements of a flower blooming, day-to-night transitions, or the nonstop action of a busy city. 

The process of timelapse involves playing images at much higher speeds than they were captured, resulting in an increased perception of speed – as an example, a scene recorded at 1fps (one frame per second) and played at 30fps. It helps to think of this photography technique as the opposite of slow motion, in which footage is played back at a much lower rate than it was captured: for instance, captured at 960fps (super slow motion) and played back at 30fps.

Timelapse photography dates back over a century: more precisely, all the way to 1872, with the inception of a 6-year series of experiments aimed at determining whether horses ever had all their limbs in the air when running. According to film historians, groundbreaker film director Georges Mélies (primarily celebrated for 1902's Le Voyage dans la Lune, or A Trip to the Moon) was the first to apply timelapse photography in cinema, with the film Carrefour de l'Opéra (1897).

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