Hyper-Lapse Photography is Like Time-Lapse Photography On Speed [Stuff to Watch]

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time lapse photographyTime-lapse photography is a method of showing the passing of time from what is usually a fixed viewpoint, sometimes incorporating a pan, zoom or sweep. The technique uses still photos shot at regular intervals which are then combined into a motion graphic sequence and the results can be spectacular.

A hyper-lapse uses this same time lapse photography technique, but instead of a fixed viewpoint the camera is moving, giving the impression of smooth glides or massive speed in addition to the rapid passing of time. Last week there was a rather special hyper-lapse video in the news, as well as a WebGL experiment that lets you create your own.

So on that topical note here are seven of the best hyper-lapse videos I could find, all of them from the photography-conscious Vimeo.

Google Street View Hyper-Lapse

Already quite famous and reported right across the Web, the Google Street View Hyperlapse has absolutely nothing to do with Google themselves (for a change). Instead it is the work of Teehan and Lax Labs and utilises WebGL rendering technology (so you’ll need Chrome or a similar WebGL enabled browser), the Google Maps API and liberal helping of JavaScript.

The results are spectacular, particularly because Teehan and Lax have supplied the tools with which to create your own. None of the hyper-lapses I’ve tried to recreate are quite as smooth and impressive as the video below, but it’s still the coolest thing anyone’s managed to achieve with all that Google Street View data.

Make your own at hyperlapse.tllabs.io.

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Berlin Hyper-Lapse

This video uses time-lapse and hyper-lapse techniques to show off the beauty and historic architecture of Germany’s capital city. Note the sequence when the camera is rushing toward the Brandenburg Gate as being a fantastic example of hyper-lapse photography, as well as the “3D” feel of the movie as the camera pans liberally around while keeping a select few subjects seemingly in the same place.

In addition to being a photographic masterpiece, creating such a movie requires a lot of patience when it comes to editing. Footage was shot on a Nikon D7000 with a simple tripod and two lenses, an 18-105mm and a longer 70-300mm and the resulting footage had to be stabilised manually, frame-by-frame.

Time of Rio

Another video shot using both time-lapse and hyper-lapse techniques, Time of Rio is a beautiful visualisation of the passing of time in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro. This is another video that doesn’t solely rely on hyper-lapse but also time-lapse, footage shot on rails as well as a few hand-held sequences.

The opening of the movie uses hyper-lapse to travel down Copacabana beach with a thin blade of focus to great effect. The footage was captured over the course of a few months and then edited in Light Room, touched up in After Effects before being thrown into Final Cut X for the uh… final cut.

A Massive GoPro Array

Marc is a very lucky boy, and a clever one at that. He’s managed to get himself a considerable number of GoPro cameras and used them to great effect in building an array. This coverage allows him to achieve a 3D effect by which subjects appear frozen in the air while the camera pans around them. This of course isn’t possible in real life, and it’s the angle of coverage Marc built into his rig that makes it possible.

The true hyper-lapse moments come at the very start and end of the film, particularly where Marc is talking to the camera about his idea. This bit is particularly well-shot, and I’m incredibly impressed with the lip-syncing achieved. Just another reason to buy a ridiculous amount of GoPro cameras, as if I already needed one.

Brisbane Time-Lapse & Hyper-Lapse

The Australian city of Brisbane is the capital of the state of Queensland, and a rather beautiful modern metropolis on the east coast of the continent-sized nation. This might not be the smoothest of movies but it certainly does Brisbane justice, showing off the natural, historical and cutting-edge nature of the city in just under two and a half minutes.

There are a few beautiful hyper-lapse shots, particular of a panning around the CBD and a journey through the Queen Street Mall. Also included are the obligatory time-lapse photography sequences and the result is a true homage to what is a fantastic part of the world.

Vienna Hyper-Lapse

An incredible piece of work that is made up mostly of hyper-lapse shots of Austria’s capital, this particular video plays out more like a tourism promotional than an exercise in photography. The editing techniques and fantastically smooth motion point to a seriously professional team behind this one, who shot and edited over the course of 2012 and 2013.

In total there were 14 days of shooting over the course of three months which resulted in more than 16,000 photographs requiring 48 hours of post processing. Once the source photos had been edited into shape it only took 40 hours (!) worth of video editing before this video was ready to go. Let that be a lesson – these techniques have the power to thrill and amaze, but also eat into your professional and personal life in a massive way.

Camtrac Time-Lapse

Finally for a little bit of nature to finish off this article here is a film shot by Dan Eckert using a Camtrac which is a dolly used to transport a camera for super-still shots. I don’t think Dan could have done much better with this almost-$2000 piece of kit (though you can get cheaper versions for much less on eBay) as he puts it through its paces in Death Valley, California.

Have you seen any good motion time-lapse or hyper-lapse videos recently? Have you tried creating your own with Google Street View? Fill us in on the details in the comments, below.

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Comments (13)
  • 2Sheds

    Thanks for this interesting and informative post.

    For other examples, I know this partially reflects my home town bias, but I’ve always found this to be a stunning work:

    “City Rising” (Toronto Timelapse)
    from Tom Ryaboi


    The sound track is also tremendous.

  • pettypoh

    tried doing one in 2012, you can see it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOhsn5YCWTE hope you guys like it =)

    • Tim Brookes

      Hey that was really good, thanks for posting!

    • pettypoh

      thanks tim, btw i just completed a new timelapse featuring “gardens by the bay” in Singapore – https://vimeo.com/68685153 – do take a look and let me know what you guys think

    • Tim Brookes

      Again – very interesting! And a beautiful city. My parents went last year for a short stop-over and they were amazed by it. I’ve been through Changi airport twice but I’ve still not seen the city – it’s on my to-do list!

    • null

      hi tim, you have my email, drop me a line when you are thinking of coming to singapore =)

  • Jay M

    Thanks for the article! Is there a way to save the Google Street View hyperlapses I choose? It’s great to choose and see them, but it’d wonderful to save and edit them.

    • Tim Brookes

      I’ve not actually found a way to do so, no – which is a shame. I’m not sure where the legalities lie (I’m guessing the guys who created the tool feel the same) as Google own the images but are generally quite relaxed about people doing things with a lot of their products.

      If you do find a way then please do share it with us, though!

  • OussamaTBB

    this is a great article ^^
    I was interested in photo lapse years ago but didn’t know the name :D
    then I stumbled on the name here in MUO.com and I downloaded the Android app called “Lapseit” it’s perfect …give it a try ;)
    thanks for the great efforts spent on spreading such huge much of infos
    keep it up

  • Uzair Ahmed

    I saw the Google Street-View Hyper-lapse video a few days back and was completely blown away! This is absolutely amazing. Thank you for other videos too!

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This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.