Time Lapse

A heavily under-cranked shot, usually taking 1 picture per second or less. Popular subjects of time-lapse are clouds, the moon, sunlight shining through a window, or a growing flower.

May be part of a Time Passes Montage.


  • The Trope Maker is Star Theatre, aka Demolishing and Building Up the Star Theatre, a 1901 short film in which a camera was positioned across the street from said theater. The camera took one exposure every four minutes, eight hours a day, while the theater was demolished. In the finished film the footage is then reversed, so the theater is demolished, then reassembles itself.
  • Used heavily in Godfrey Reggio's Koyaanisqatsi.
  • Often used on Transformers toy commercials when the actual figures' transformations are being demonstrated.
  • It was used a few times in Life After People for plants growing.
    • Time-lapse videos of plant growth are a favorite of documentaries — as you can see here, here or herenote .
  • A lot of the stuff built in MythBusters takes several days. Their time slot is around an hour. The announcer/narrator refers to it a few times as the editors' favorite trick (other than, perhaps, the high-speed camera).
  • The time-lapsed clouds variant was used frequently to show the passage of time (as well as to hint an the alien setting) in the nineties sci-fi drama Earth 2.
  • Used in-universe on an episode of Psych as a film student is recording the blooming of a rare plant. Shawn and Gus go through the frames to see if the camera captured a mummy escaping from a museum.
  • The video for Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen's "Good Time" ... literally a day at the beach.
  • A large portion of building projects in Minecraft are posted on YouTube as a time lapse.
  • Introduced as a feature in an update for Prison Architect for recording the gradual construction of players' prisons.
  • Used in the first cinematic of Hanako's route in Katawa Shoujo.
  • Disneyland used to have a presentation "If Disneyland was Built in a Day" which showed film documenting the original building in Time Lapse.
  • The Wolfman (2010) uses many time lapses of the sky and moon. Although the majority are used as a part of a Time Passes Montage.