Supposedly these videos can be any length, but mine have come out at 2–5 seconds for time-lapses taken over a few minutes, or 23–39 seconds from filming up to 24 hours. This works just fine if you’re wanting to show traffic movement at an intersection, or a nice sky, but probably wouldn’t work as well if you’re wanting to create some longer ASMR content or condense the days-long construction of a craft or building into a few minutes.
For more customisation you’re going to need a third-party app and some knowledge of what you’re wanting to do. Skyflow and Moment Pro Camera are two good apps to check out. They allow you to determine how long you want to film for, and how long you want the finished product to be. It’s worth playing around with both quite a bit to get acquainted with what you’re trying to achieve.
Over with Samsung there’s a lot more customisation options, which you can access by choosing ‘Hyperlapse’ in the ‘More’ menu of the camera app.
Hyperlapses are a bit different to traditional time-lapses, because the phone essentially films everything and then just fast-forwards, dropping whichever frames aren’t required, which gives more options and a slightly different effect.
Hyperlapse offers a variety of different speeds: Auto (which is self-explanatory), 5x (which it suggests for people running around), 10x (for traffic going by), 15x (clouds moving across the sky), 30x (crowds of people walking by), 60x (sunrise/sunset), night mode 15x, and night mode 45x.
During our most recent lockdown in Melbourne I got very into recording time-lapses of the reduced traffic in the city, and found the recommended 10x to be way, way too slow. Even 60x didn’t quite give me the effect I was after, but I was able to edit the video to double the speed, and 120x got me closer to the effect I wanted.
Recording too slow is always better than recording too fast, because removing frames after the fact is always easier and will look better than adding them.
The other thing I found was that the Galaxy S21 Ultra I was using would stop recording and quit the camera app at random. I’m not sure if that was due to the black phone getting hot in the sun or what, but it was very frustrating and lead to inconsistent results. So keep the temperature of the phone in mind when recording and be sure to check on it periodically.
Whichever app or phone you go with, it’s pretty hard to take a bad time-lapse. A good photo or video shows something that captivates the audience. Something that can’t be perceived by the naked eye, like time, is always captivating. Just hold it steady, point it at something that moves, and have fun.
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Alice is a freelance journalist, producer and presenter.