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Time Lapse

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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.


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     Film - Animated  

  • Big Hero 6 has a time-lapse scene, with Hiro preparing his micro-bot demonstration with the help of Tadashi and his friends, showing several days progress in a matter of seconds.

     Film- Live Action  

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The entire movie TimeScapes by Tom Lowe. The movie consists of a series of beautifully-constructed timelapse shots set to music.

     Live Action Television  

  • 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.
  • On Mad About You independent filmmaker Paul's big claim to fame is "Weed," a time-lapse film about a weed growing in the concrete in New York City.
  • Glitch uses several time-lapse sequences of wilting flowers played backwards for its opening title sequence.



  • Often used on Transformers toy commercials when the actual figures' transformations are being demonstrated.


     Video Games  

  • 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.

     Western Animation  

  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: "Voices" has a sequence where the Jedi Council spends an entire day and night meditating, and this is shown through an amazing time-lapse sequence where the camera circles around the Jedi Temple, showing the sun rising and setting and the nonstop traffic whizzing by.
  • The opening of King of the Hill, with Hank and the guys standing on the alley drinking beer as the whole day passes them by.


  • Disneyland used to have a presentation "If Disneyland was Built in a Day" which showed film documenting the original building in Time Lapse.
  • Often subverted on the internet as a simple kind of humour: you link to a normal picture and give a description such as "Watch the progress of the Boston underpass construction work", or "Incredible time-lapse of Rob Lowe aging over 20 years!!!"


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