Time Lapse And Advertising

"I’d like to explore time lapse within my marketing content, but how specifically can it benefit me?"

Time lapse has been used in film and television for decades, and is becoming increasingly popular in the booming online content world. Its efficacy spans industry and audience, showcasing progress in a condensed, engaging and immensely sharable format. 

Here, we delve into why time lapse is such an effective medium for telling stories and providing creative advertising solutions for any project (not just long-term construction projects) and show you some examples of other time lapse work we love.

 The Scalpel London

The Scalpel, London


Time lapse in a nutshell

In basic terms, time lapse is a series of still images that are taken at timed intervals over a linear period of time, that capture the scene in front of the camera. The amount of time that elapses between each frame can be seconds, minutes, hours or even days. These captured images are then arranged into a sequence and played back, to show that linear timeline in its entirety.

You can draw parallels with stop-motion animation, like Wallace & Gromit by Aardman Animations (who we love, by the way, as fellow Bristolians), however, each of their frames are fantastically curated, created and manipulated, whereas time lapse documents the scene before it.


Supercharge Your Story

A huge advantage time lapse offers to film makers is an ability to warp time. Time lapse makes it possible for things that happen very slowly, appear to happen very quickly, thus allowing storytellers to condense narratives and hold short attention spans. This aspect makes it a fantastic way to showcase a construction project in its entirety, which can often run into years, but also a huge range of other activities from interiors and renovation, to fine art installations.

Dyson utilised time lapse to great effect in their v8 advert, taking the viewer on a journey from a hallway to a living room in the opening shot, to demonstrate the amount of dust and dirt transferred to a carpet by a family over a number of days or weeks. 




A motion control rig has been used to take the viewer through the house, moving the camera steadily through the space. The producers have also employed a ‘dragged shutter’ - or slow shutter speed - which makes for more pleasant viewing, and adds a certain artistic flair as the people in shot appear blurred and soft - more on this later.



Narrative Segue

So what is narrative segue? The Cambridge Dictionary defines this as 'to move easily and without interruption from one piece of music, part of a story, subject, or situation to another'. To illustrate what this means in terms of video, take a look at this short 20 second advert from M&S Food.
The clip starts by showing the various different fresh ingredients used on the pizza, before ending with the finished item - cooked, ready and delicious.
The narrative uses a segue shot to transition from the raw ingredients to the final cooked pizza. This is done very quickly using a time lapse of it in the oven - blink and you’ll miss it, but it works perfectly, demonstrating the elapsed time whilst showcasing the quality of the ingredients along the way.
In the same vein, we all love a good sunset and - for the early birds - a sunrise. Using day-to-night time lapses or vice-versa is a popular method in films and TV to transport the viewer across time periods quickly and obviously, but without being narratively jarring. 


We briefly touched upon how the Dyson advert above shows the family as slightly blurred and softly focussed by using a slow shutter speed or a ‘dragged shutter’. But what is this? Why do it, and what are the advantages?
By slowing down a camera’s shutter speed, more time is required for the camera to capture an image. Therefore, moving objects - depending on their speed - will become blurred. Think car brake lights, appearing as a continuous stream of light, like in the example below.  
You might ask why this a positive thing, but with time lapse, you can use this to capture a sequence of movements and even the flow of people through a space. This creates a nice aesthetic to the footage and adds additional motion to the scene, perfect for showing off finished architectural spaces. 
Filming in public can be challenge, for example, it might be difficult to obtain release forms for everyone in a scene and people might not want to be recognised. A solution could be using this type of motion blur to its advantage to hide individual identities.

Stunning Detail & Resolution Flexibility

Taking 4K, 6K and 8K stills not only captures a fantastic amount of detail in the images themselves (and mean that the images are print-ready), but these large resolutions provide an awful lot of flexibility in post production, allowing an editor to creativity crop and zoom into footage to re-frame and show sections of different scenes. See the advantages of 8K Super Hi-Vision in action below.
Huge resolution visual displays have mostly been in places such as cinemas up until now, however, 4K TV screens are becoming more and more commonplace at home. In fact, a lot of the television manufacturers making the first 4K displays were utilising time lapse as their go-to content to display to demo these resolutions, as normal video 4K content was rare.

Other stunning examples of time lapse in action

A go-to example of great time lapse work in action would be the opening credits for TV series House of Cards.
The eagerly awaited Awaken Film by Tom Lowe is due to be released later in 2018. Make sure to watch the trailer with earphones and in 4K. It displays some awe-inspiring and incredibly pioneering time lapse methods, including astro-time lapse photography from a helicopter!
Watch how Mike Olbinski captures the beauty and power of changing weather fronts - as above, we recommend watching in 4K with earphones.
Another fascinating watch are these crystals forming over days and weeks by the Beautiful Science Team.


Envisioning Chemistry: Crystallization II from Beauty of Science on Vimeo.

Would you like to know more?
Hop on over to our Vimeo channel if you'd like to see more examples of time lapse in action, or download our free content creation infographic to demonstrate at-a-glance how time lapse could become a hugely valuable tool in your content creation toolkit.
Free infographic download


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