Time Lapse

Vision Fountain use time lapse photography to create video clips that compress time.

The short sequence below was taken at Felixstowe Port in the UK.  The sequence shows a large container ship leaving port in 12 seconds.  The real time for the process is approximately 45 minutes.  The sequence is part of the Made in Britain project.



Time-lapse photography is a technique whereby the frequency at which film frames are captured (the frame rate) is much lower than that used to view the sequence.

When played at normal speed, time appears to be moving faster and thus “lapsing”.

The method is ideal as it compresses time and motion.  Hours, even days are compressed into a few seconds.  Weather patterns, transport flow, and other movements, create patters in compressed time.

For example, an image of a scene may be captured once every second, then played back at 30 frames per second; the result is an apparent 30 times speed increase. Time-lapse photography can be considered the opposite of high speed photography or slow motion.

Processes that would normally appear subtle to the human eye, e.g. the motion of the sun and stars in the sky, movement of shadows become very pronounced.

Time-lapse is the extreme version of the cinematography technique of under-cranking, and is frequently confused with stop motion animation.


The Made in Britain project (see Made In Britain) use time lapse to create entire micro-documentaries.