Best practices to create a time-lapse video

This document provides all the information you need to shoot a time-lapse video including the hardware requirement and shooting specifications.

Time-lapse videos are videos which when played back at normal speed, the time appears to be moving faster and thus lapsing. With time-lapse effect the mundane or subtle scenes look very dramatic. Some everyday occurences that can make for good time-lapse videos include the following:

  • Sunrise and sunsets
  • Celestial movements 
  • Landscapes and cityscapes
  • Vehicles and people moving on the road 
  • Flowers blooming

Note that scenes with prominent movement or action over time make for good time-lapse video frames.

Example time-lapse videos

A time-lapse video shot at a beach during sun set.
Time-lapse video shot at the Namakan Lake shows the beautiful phenomenon of aurora.
A time-lapse video shot at a take during sun set showing moving clouds and a starry night.
A time-lapse video shot at a busy tourist attraction showing the hustle and bustle.
A time-lapse video showing a busy highway shot from a bridge.

Create a time-lapse video

A time lapse movie can be created from a sequence of still images or videos that show the passage of time. The content may be shot over a period of few minutes, hours, days, or even weeks and then the speed increased by a high margin to create a time-lapse movie. It is recommended to shoot a time-lapse with a steady camera using a tripod.

Create a time-lapse using videos

You can capture the whole scene in a single video or multiple videos to create a single time-lapse video output.

Create a time-lapse using photos

If you are creating a time lapse movie using photos, the time interval to choose between shots will depend on how fast or slow the elements in the scene are moving. If there’s little wind and cloud movement is minimal, you may want to set an interval of one shot every 30 seconds whereas if there’s a lot of movement, we recommend setting up a five second intervel. Getting a feel for the exact interval time in different situations comes down to practice. If you’d like to get it right first time do some test shoots where you shoot enough photos for one minute duration of video to see how different intervals look. 

A representative table to create a one minute time-lapse video for some select scenarios are given below:

Duration of caputure (Minutes)

Time interval between shots (seconds)

Image duration to set in Premiere Elements (frames)





Photos clicked in burst mode    




Fast moving clouds, crowd movmeent, kids playing




Sunrise and sunset, slow moving clouds, landscapes and cityscapes




Building construction, plants growing, flowers blooming

Hardware requirement

For creating a time-lapse video, all you need is your camera, the kit lens or a lens of your choice, and a tripod. If your camera has a built-in intervalometer, you won’t need a shutter remote with one built in. Keep in mind that you're going to end up with perhaps a thousand photos. Use the basic or normal quality setting to avoid having  over a thousand multi-megabyte photos to work with.

Camera & lens set-up

Attach your camera to a tripod to ensure it remains fixed in one position for the duration of the shoot. For your first time-lapse it’s worth shooting in aperture priority before moving on to manual. Set ISO to 100 with aperture at f/11 and apply any exposure compensation that’s required if shooting in aperture priority. If shooting in manual mode, set the appropriate shutter speed.

When the focusing is set to manual, focus one-third of the distance into the scene behind the foreground. This will provide good depth-of-field.

Post processing and creating the time-lapse movie using Premiere Elements

To learn how to post process your images and videos and create a time-lapse movie using Premiere Elements, see Create a time-lapse - Guided edit.

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