Our exclusive video is packed full of top tips for creating stunning timelapses for your films

Filming timelapses are a fantastic creative way of indicating the passing of time in videos, like a cityscape changing from from day to night.

They are a great trope used across all of your favourite TV shows and films. But how should you shoot timelapses and what are the top tips that will help to give them more impact?

Traditionally timelapses have been created by shooting a series of still images on a camera – often via a built-in intervalometer – and then editing them together to create a piece of timelapse footage.

Some newer camera also offer special timelapse movie functions that can automatically stitch together stills into a timelapse movie.

We round up some of the key things you need to know about filming timelapses.

How many frames do I need?

It’s a good idea to plan out roughly how long you’d like your final timelapse clip to be (whether that be 30 seconds or two minutes) and then you can do the maths to work out how best to shoot it and how many frames to capture.

What speed is my subject?

Consider the speed of your subject when deciding on the intervals between each shot. For fast moving subjects, such as cars or people, this will probably be well under one second whilst documenting a slowly changing landscape may only require a few shots per day.

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JPEGs or RAW when filming timelapses?

Decide on whether to shoot your stills as JPEGs or as RAW files. If you’re planning a 1080p HD movie then JPEGS should be of sufficient quality but if you want your timelapse edit to be any quality above 1080p then shooting RAW files is clearly the best option.

Shooting RAW will also give you the flexibility to edit the colours in post or to zoom in or crop on the original high-res image files.

Timelapses can create some amazing footage for your film

What shooting ratio should I use?

If your camera gives you the option to select a 16:9 shooting ratio do so – this is the traditional cinema ratio so will look more natural in a movie edit.

Stay steady when filming

A steady camera is essential for timelapses, so you must always use a tripod. Check to make sure it is level before setting your camera to shoot so you avoid having to straighten any footage in the post-production process.

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Should I use remote controller or apps?

If your camera doesn’t have an intervalometer or a built-in timelapse video function consider using an external remote controller for your camera or even an interval shooting app. There are a few such apps available, so do your homework and make sure you check which one is compatible with your camera.

Should I use stills or video when filming timelapses?

As mentioned earlier many modern cameras offer timelapse shooting functions but the downside of this is that their maximum footage resolution is just 1080p. You must decide on the quality of final footage you want before choosing such a mode or opting to shoot higher res stills and edit them together in post.

Whatever options you choose for shooting your timelapses, if you follow our tips and choose a great subject then you should end up with a great piece of footage. Just click on the play button in the video window at the top of this page to watch the full film on how to shoot stunning timelapses.