Hyperlapse Tutorial / From Beginner to Time Lapse Hero

There is often some confusion about the difference between a time lapse and a hyperlapse

For both techniques, photos are taken at a specific interval and assembled in a video timeline. Time lapses have a static point of view, like a camera on a tripod or a drone hovering. In a hyperlapse the point of view is in motion, thus adding extra movement to the scene

Which One To Choose?

With a traditional ground-based camera most of the time, we tend to shoot time lapses, as it is easy to use a tripod to have a perfectly stable, fixed point of view

Performing a hyperlapse with a ground-based camera is not simple, as we must find a way to move the camera and control the motion. The best results are obtained with sliders, but they are bulky to carry around, only allow for short movements, and must be motorized to get a constant distance between each shot

Several ways to move the point of view for hyperlapses

At times good results can be obtained from trains, cars, or buses. Another possibility is to use a hand-held gimbal, but we must cope with unwanted movements. It is not easy to get good results

In low winds, drones can be very stable while advancing forward or sideways and with the different intelligent modes it is easy to control the flying path. This makes them the ideal tool for hyperlapses, like huge sliders in the sky. For this reason with drones, in most cases, people tend to go for hyperlapses

Like any other form of video, time lapses and hyperlapses need a scene with some movement, otherwise, a simple photo, maybe animated, is more interesting. They are both interesting techniques, but each of them is best suited for some specific situations

Hyperlapses can add extra movement to a scene

Hyperlapses are excellent to add movement to an otherwise static scene, or to give an idea of frantic urban life, excitement, or confusion

A scene containing movement is needed for time lapses

But when a scene contains already some interesting motion, time lapses are often the best way to focus on what is happening. It may be the case of a sunset, cloud movement, cars in a city, boats in a river, and so on

Probably the most challenging time lapses are the ones involving transitions between day to night

I have done several articles about them


In time-lapses and hyperlapses we take a series of photos at a given interval. These photos are then assembled in a video timeline. The frequency of a video timeline is in most cases either 24 or 25 or 30 frames per second

Number of Photos

First of all, we need to choose the number of photos we need, based on the desired length of the time lapse. I often need a length between 10 and 15 seconds, unless I am shooting sunsets or sunrises in Northern Europe, New England, or Canada, in which case I prefer 20 to 30 seconds

If we take 300 photos and insert them into a 30 fps timeline, the timelapse will play back in 10 seconds, as 300 divided by 30 equals 10. In a timeline of 24 fps we will get about 12.5 seconds, this length is in most cases perfectly fine for our purposes

Examples of time lapses of different length

Another reason why I like to use 300 photos, is because it makes it very easy to compute the shooting time. At an interval of one shot per second, it will take 300 seconds which divided by 60 seconds per minute equals 5 minutes

IntervalShooting Time
2 seconds10 minutes
3 seconds15 minutes
4 seconds20 minutes
5 seconds25 minutes
6 seconds30 minutes
Time needed for 300 photos

For readers starting out with drone time lapses I have done a Step by step tutorial on how to shoot a drone time lapse for beginners

Interval Between Photos

Another important item to plan according to the scene and the result we want to achieve is the interval between each photo. The longer the interval, the fastest will be the movement in the resulting time lapse

  • In hyperlapses where the point of view moves very fast, I like to take a shot every second, although not many cameras can do it and it is not feasible with drones
  • In the case of cars, people, or boats, I choose an interval of 2, 3, or 4 seconds, according to the desired speed
  • In landscapes where most of the movement is in the clouds, I would use an interval of 4 or 5 seconds
  • An interval of 5 seconds is fine for sunrises or sunset in Southern Europe, while in Northern Europe or Canada, 6 to 8 seconds is a better choice
  • Finally, in the case of flowers blooming or constructions, one shot every few minutes or more
How different intervals modify the speed of motion

Motion Blur

By far the most important factor for a smooth time lapse or hyperlapse is the correct amount of motion blur. In videography, there is a technique called 180° rule to control the amount of motion blur. This rule consists in applying a specific ratio between the frame rate and the shutter speed

Time lapses with the correct amount of motion blur

In time lapses the interval between each shot is the equivalent of the frame rate for video. Therefore a specific ratio between the interval between photos and the value of the shutter speed is needed to optimize the motion blur

The same concept of motion blur also applies to Long-exposure photography with a drone or with a regular camera, you can watch my dedicated article for more details

The wrong amount of motion blur destroys a timelapse or hyperlapse

I have done a specific article about Motion Blur in time lapses and hyperlapses, I strongly suggest it to anyone interested in these techniques

In order to use a specific shutter speed in different light conditions, ND filters are a must. I have done a specific article about How to use ND filters

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More Info and Examples in This Video


I am Vittorio Caramazza, aka Vicvideopic, the founder of this website and author of all the posts. I am a videographer and photographer contributing to several stock agencies. I am an Adobe Certified Expert in Photoshop and Lightroom. I have 10 years of experience with dron videography and photography. I was struck by drone syndrome in 2013. I have owned and tested in depth the following drones: Phantom 3, Phantom 4, Phantom 4 Pro, Mavic 2 Zoom, Mavic 2 Pro, Mavic Mini, Mini 2, Air 2, Air 2s, Autel Evo Nano Plus, Mavic 3, Mini 3 Pro, Mini 3. My home has turned into a breeding ground for drones. I am the owner of two YouTube channels specializing in Videography and Photography, with a focus on drones My main channel is VicVideopic (in English): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgaBlrFDONJ4BSEUHa2cLKg My other channel is Drone Mitico, the Italian version.: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkeoY8rPPj-fypUKHckTtwQ I am currently based in Sicily (Southern Italy), but I tend to move quite often. After all, this is one of the main benefits of being a digital nomad…

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