How to create the perfect hyperlapse – Comparison

How to create the perfect hyperlapse – Comparison

Over the last couple of months, we have created three in-depth guides on how to create the perfect hyperlapse. You can find the guides to each technique we presented right here:

Read: How to create a handheld hyperlapseHow to create a Hyperlapse with a tripodHow to create a Hyperlapse with a gimbal

In this article, we will compare the pros and cons of each approach. After reading this article, you’ll be able to decide which hyperlapse approach is the most suitable for your specific visual idea.

You are probably wondering whether there is a winner or an ultimate technique among the three. Spoiler: there isn’t. Think of each technique as a tool with a different set of strengths and weaknesses. None of the three can do it all.

Learning curves

Shooting a hyperlapse can seem like a daunting task. After all, it entails a considerable amount of time and a new way of interacting with your environment. Hell, you are trying to bend time itself! Creating properly exposed and sharp hyperlapses requires a basic understanding of camera settings (like using the manual mode). To fully understand this comparison, you must also grasp the concept of motion blur and its relation to the capture interval.

Shooting handheld is the best way to start your hyperlapse journey. Handheld capture requires the smallest learning curve to be fully utilised. While you could use a gimbal or a tripod without control for motion blur, you would miss out on quite a bit of creative freedom while also having to carry more gear around. There are few limitations regarding how you can move a gimbal through space. Most gimbals can either follow your own movement automatically or perform programmed moves on the individual motorised axes. This resulting plethora of options makes a gimbal hyperlapse the champion in terms of freedom of movement.

Strengths of each technique

Three backpack sizes

If you like to travel light, you probably don’t want to carry a full-size camera backpack around with a clunky video tripod strapped to it. A tripod hyperlapse is the most gear-intensive technique. As camera technology is developing into smaller form factors and lighter systems, so are motorised gimbals. A modern gimbal can easily fit into a medium-sized backpack. Despite these improvements, the clear winner when it comes to weight and ease of travelling is shooting handheld. In the minimal version, you will only need a camera with a lens attached to it.

Handheld hyperlapses require very little equipment. Tripod hyperlapses require basic photography equipment (tripod + camera). Gimbal hyperlapses require the most sophisticated equipment.

Gimbal hyperlapses need the most advanced equipment
Gimbal hyperlapses need the most advanced equipment

Software requirements

The closer your shooting interval is to real-time video, the less likely you are to need the ramping and deflickering capabilities of LRTimelapse. The more dramatic your camera movement and blur in your images, the more likely you will have to use manual tracking software, such as Adobe After Effects, to stabilise your footage.


Images without motion blur fare better in automatic stabilisation. Therefore, we have to work with fast shutter speeds when shooting handheld hyperlapses. Then we might get away with video editing software that only offers automatic stabilisation, such as Adobe Premiere Pro with its warp stabiliser.


Using a gimbal will usually entice you to create more complex paths (such as orbits or infinity spins) for your hyperlapses. You’ll quickly realise that automatic stabilisation does not cut it. Using Adobe After Effects, with its semi-manual option to stabilise the motion by tracking one or two points and locking their position in the frame, is often required.


With great flexibility come great software requirements. Picture a sunset-to-astrophotography hyperlapse on a tripod: motion blur and lighting will likely change from start to finish. In this extreme case, using all the tools that software such as LRTimelapse and Adobe After Effects offer is usually a must.

Handheld hyperlapses often just need the warp stabiliser. Gimbal hyperlapses often require additional stabilising. Tripod hyperlapses often require the additional use of LRTimelapse because of changes in lighting.

Which software to use?

Optimal hyperlapse subjects for each approach

The shooting interval will be our guide, as every process is best captured at a different interval.


Gimbal hyperlapses work best for close-to-real-time intervals such as 0.1 seconds (up to a maximum of ~10 seconds). Therefore, human movement, traffic and other short processes work very well with a gimbal.


Handheld hyperlapses are optimal for showcasing stationary objects. Capturing the weather or even changing lighting conditions, such as a sunset, do work well. Due to the limitation of only using fast shutter speeds, quicker shooting intervals are preferable.


Tripod hyperlapses shine when precise movement in small increments is required. It’s also great for long shooting intervals. Slower processes, such as a sunset, are therefore ideal. You can increase motion blur to your heart’s desire if you use an ND (neutral density) filter. Light trails offer a visual treat that only a tripod hyperlapse can give you.

Gimbal hyperlapses are best for subjects that move fast (cars, people, etc.). Handheld hyperlapses are good for stationary objects. Tripod hyperlapses are best for long shooting periods such as sunsets, sunrises, etc.

tripod hyperlapse sunset

A path worth walking

Both shooting handheld and on a gimbal work on uneven surfaces, such as gravel. A tripod hyperlapse requires firm contact to the ground on every shot. A gimbal is the most versatile option in this respect.

Setup time

The less gear you have to prepare, the faster you’ll be out the door. We can all agree on this. The less obvious factor is the in-camera setup that your visual creative choices require.


Precise tripod hyperlapses need the most preparation, especially if footsteps are not accurate enough, for example when you want a perfect circle around the subject. Carefully measuring and marking every camera position on the ground with tape or chalk will extend the setup time dramatically. Controlling motion blur and adapting to changing light levels also require extensive planning and experience. Overall, tripod hyperlapses require the most advanced camera knowledge and careful setup.  


In the case of gimbal hyperlapses, the setup time depends mostly on your planned movement. If you wish to make an orbit around a subject with a steady continuous pan movement during the walk, you will have to adjust a couple of additional settings on your gimbal. Camera setup takes longer than shooting handheld as well, as you might want to use an ND filter to slow down the shutter speed for more motion blur.


Handheld shooting wins by a mile when it comes to setup time. It requires only a few hyperlapse-specific considerations and settings on top of basic still photo skills. The most important consideration is how you will control the exposure over the entire distance and duration by using either the manual or the aperture value mode in a smart way.

Handheld hyperlapse requires very little to no setuptime
Handheld hyperlapse requires very little to no setuptime


Ease of capturing

Impromptu hyperlapses are quickly done when you opt to shoot them handheld. A small footprint in your luggage is another upside of this technique. Gimbal hyperlapses are close behind shooting handheld, but they do require more planning and setup as well as a bigger backpack. Adjusting every frame and letting go of the camera when shooting on a tripod is cumbersome. The entire setup and shooting process is advanced, but the backpack is the biggest of the bunch.


Sometimes quantity is what you are aiming for. In these cases, a short interval will enable you to shoot different clips in a single location. The possibility to get close to real-time framerates on a gimbal makes this the recommended setup for maximising output.

Creative control

To me, the most important aspect when creating a hyperlapse is the creative control. I call it a tie between the gimbal and tripod approaches. While gimbal hyperlapses offer maximum flexibility, they also work with short intervals and continuous movement. Tripod hyperlapses enable you to create light trails when shooting traffic. You have absolute creative control over the shutter speed paired with precision and freedom in your choice of stride sizes between exposures.

With this assessment in mind, think about what technique works best for your subject and the scope of your next hyperlapse project. I hope you are as inspired as me to go out and create the next visually stunning hyperlapse treat! If you need some additional information, let me point you once again to our in-depth guides on each approach:

Read: How to create a handheld hyperlapseHow to create a Hyperlapse with a tripodHow to create a Hyperlapse with a gimbal

If you created something after reading this guide, we would love to see it. Please consider sharing it with us on INSTAGRAM. Happy hyperlapsing!

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How to create a hyperlapse with a gimbal

How to create a hyperlapse with a gimbal

In this article we will teach you how to achieve this end result only using your camera and a gimbal:

Article Series: “How to create the perfect Hyperlapse”

This article is part of our series “How to create the perfect hyperlapse”. Over the next few months, we are going to learn about different techniques, their pros and cons, and when which technique is used best. To be informed about new articles and updates to the time lapse world, please subscribe to our newsletter.

Read: How to create a handheld hyperlapseHow to create a Hyperlapse with a tripodComparison: How to create the perfect Hyperlapse

Smooth camera movement nowadays is almost always achieved by gimbal stabilisation. The proliferation of motorised gimbals has redefined stable moving shots in film and video production. From the get-go, gimbals promised to revolutionise the production of hyperlapse photography as well. But the impact hasn’t been as great as expected. The kind of hyperlapse that profits most from a gimbal system differs substantially from a tripod hyperlapse or a low-profile handheld hyperlapse.

In this guide you will learn how to plan, capture and post-process a buttery smooth gimbal hyperlapse. We will look at best practices and potential hurdles in an easy-to-follow guide. So, let’s get started!


As the following paragraphs will focus solely on gimbal hyperlapses, you will benefit from a basic understanding of time lapse terminology. Knowing the common denominator of all time lapse techniques based on photos will help as well. You can read up on the basics here:

Basic time lapse shooting
Basic time lapse post-production

Packing the camera bag  

We are aiming to create a 10-second hyperlapse clip. To achieve this from a sequence of photos, we need to know how many frames these 10 seconds will contain.

Example: At a frame rate of 25 frames per second, we need to capture 250 photos to produce a 10-second video.

Equipment to shoot your gimbal hyperlapse

Equipment: Gimbal and camera


It is helpful to have a grid overlay to keep the desired point on your subject fixed. You will also be able to identify gimbal drift more easily, but we will get to that later.


Bring your favourite lens for the subject you want to shoot but take two hyperlapse-specific factors into consideration:

  1. Short focal lengths give you more dramatic motion at the edges of the frame and will therefore enhance the perception of speed. The downside is that small inaccuracies in the walking path are more likely to introduce unwanted parallax errors. These can range from difficult to impossible to stabilise.
  2. Medium and long focal lengths give a slower feel to the hyperlapse but yield better stabilisation results. One downside is the requirement for faster shutter speeds, which limits the creative use of motion blur.


You will need an internal or external intervalometer. Check out our review of the LRT Pro Timer 3!


Set your gimbal up in advance and learn every mode, knob and special feature it might have. And don’t forget to calibrate it! Depending on your gimbal, that might work via your smartphone with the manufacturer’s app or a laptop.

Set up your gimbal

Things you will need in post-production

Storage space

Enough to save all your RAW sequences. A single 10-second clip of 42 MB of Sony A7rIII RAW photos amounts to a ~10 GB file.

Adobe Lightroom

Alternatively, Adobe Camera Raw in combination with Adobe Bridge or any other software to batch-grade RAW photos and export them to a compressed format such as .jpg.

Video editing software

It must allow you to import photo sequences and have stabilisation capabilities. Most available applications such as DaVinci Resolve or Adobe Premiere Pro offer a way to stabilise shaky footage. Our recommendation, however, is the compositing software Adobe After Effects, as it offers additional manual stabilisation methods if the automatic stabiliser fails. Moreover, you can directly import RAW photo sequences as video in After Effects and add a single grade with Adobe Camera RAW – very convenient!

Optional software: LRTimelapse


LRTimelapse is a highly specialised piece of software that features tools for animating and ramping grades. It works best in conjunction with Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Camera RAW. It is often not necessary to do the extra ramping step when showing only a short timeframe with fixed exposures in a hyperlapse. However, if your hyperlapse flickers, it might still be worth looking at LRTimelapse, as it offers tools for deflickering.

We have gathered all the ingredients we need and are now ready to dive into the creative process! What should we capture in our gimbal hyperlapse?

Choosing your gimbal hyperlapse subject

The options when moving your camera through space with a gimbal are endless. You can orbit a subject, walk straight towards it, follow a person, simulate a POV city tour or even do a full roll rotation like the “infinite spin”. What objects or subjects are most suitable for a gimbal hyperlapse? There is no right or wrong answer, but certain choices can make your life quite a bit easier.

Walk with a gimbal

When starting out with your first gimbal hyperlapses it is best to stick to simpler camera moves. Walk along straight paths and choose stationary photo subjects such as buildings or statues. You will have to walk at a steady pace with no change in speed and without breaks along the way. Will you be able to do that, and will the environment allow for that over the duration of your shot? Try to anticipate whether at any point the path might become blocked by people or other potential obstructions.

Expert tip: Gimbal hyperlapses shine especially when featuring relatively fast processes around the subject. It does not always have to be the weather; you could also show a square filling up with people or the traffic in front of a landmark. You have a few ideas of a process to feature? Great! But there is one more consideration before you make your final decision. Smooth movement through space and smooth movement in front of the camera are the two main objectives when creating a hyperlapse.

Smooth movement through space

Shoot-move-shoot capture vs continuous-movement capture

Traditional hyperlapses captured on a tripod or handheld follow the shoot-move-shoot sequence. You take a photo, move to the next position, stop and take another photo. In the continuous-capture method, you move during the exposure, thus creating motion blur also from moving through space and not only in front of the camera.

Smooth movement in front of the camera

If an object crosses your camera’s field of view faster than your shooting interval, the motion blur will appear as flicker. In an ideal world, you would set your shutter speed to an angle of 180 degrees and not worry about flicker. However, there are other limitations to consider. One such limitation is the longest shutter speed that will still produce sharp photos on a gimbal. Depending on the focal length, my experience is to only choose long exposure times close to the 180-degree shutter angle if you use a very wide-angle lens and walk straight towards your subject, keeping the middle unaffected by the motion blur. Even then I would not dare go longer than 0.5 seconds as the shutter speed (with a few artistic exceptions). If you shoot at an interval of 1 second, the motion blur at 0.5 seconds as the shutter speed will be correct.

Testing the path of your gimbal hyperlapse

You have selected a subject for your hyperlapse and are ready to produce just the right amount of motion blur. It is time to move on to selecting a shooting interval and preparing the walk.

You want to keep the focal point on the subject in the same position of your composition throughout the frame with the help of a display overlay or marking. Does the path allow for that, or will you pass something that temporarily blocks your view? An example would be a bridge that you must walk underneath.

Selecting a hyperlapse interval

I recommend walking the path in advance to identify possible obstacles before you are halfway into your hyperlapse. While test walking the path, count the number of steps you must take to get from the start to the end frame. This information is necessary to calculate the number of steps per frame. Steps are a useful unit of measurement. If you have a distance that requires at least one step per frame and you want an interval of one second or more, you are good to go. 250 steps for a 250-frame hyperlapse at an interval of 1 second is a good minimum.

If you have a shorter distance to cover, look for smaller units of measurement, like tiles on the ground. However, be aware that there is a limit to how small the increments can be while maintaining a smooth path for your camera at intervals longer than 1 second. The issue with continuous shooting arises from having to always move the same speed. There is also a limit to how slowly a human can walk. At some point you will begin to wobble when taking multiple photos per step over a long duration. If you want to cover a short distance with few steps and create a hyperlapse feel, use a fast interval close to real time video frame rates. This will require a fast camera with a burst mode and a fast SD card.

To keep it simple, we will stick to 250 steps and one photo per step at an interval of 1 second. Clouds typically move a bit slowly at an interval of 1 second, but traffic and people will exhibit a visually interesting speed.

Ready, set, go? Time to check your equipment!


Gimbal hyperlapse gear check

With the subject selected and the path clear we are almost ready to capture the gimbal hyperlapse. To ensure a smooth experience, let’s look at what needs to be taken care of in advance and what we need to check directly before starting the hyperlapse walk.

To do in advance

  • Look at the number of photos you can still take on your camera and make sure there is enough space.
  • Changing battery during a hyperlapse shot is not possible. Check for a full battery.
  • The sensor of a mirrorless camera is especially susceptible to dust and hair which will show up on your photos at high f-stop numbers. Clean your sensor if necessary.
  • Also clean the glass of your lens and the ND filters.
  • Turn on the camera stabilisation if your camera offers this option.
  • To monitor the photo’s exposure, turn on the exposure value (EV) indicator or the histogram on your camera.
  • The zebra brightness indicator might also prove helpful for very bright contexts prone to clipping.
  • Switch on the grid overlay on your camera or mark the middle with tape or a whiteboard marker.
  • Set the file format to RAW.
  • Turn off any limiting settings such as the (ISO-range-limiting) picture profiles on the Sony A7 series.
set up your camera

Set the camera to manual exposure mode if the lighting does not change from the start to the end position or over the duration of the shoot. If the lighting does change along the path, I recommend using AV mode (aperture value). Gimbal hyperlapses are not ideal for changing light contexts. Most often you will want to stick to the manual mode with a fixed exposure.

Setting up the gimbal

To keep the camera level without unwanted vibration and unnecessary battery drainage, balance your camera in the same setup as during the shoot. If your gimbal has the option, perform an automatic balance assessment.

Autotune the motors of your gimbal for the weight of this specific camera-lens combination.

There are many ways to utilise the various modes of a gimbal for a hyperlapse. You can, for example, set up a mode that allows for ultra-slow panning movement to orbit around a subject. A mode that is useful for both video and hyperlapse is the chicken head mode, which I recommend to always have programmed into the gimbal. Just like the head of a chicken, no matter how much you move the body of your gimbal, its head (the camera) will stay level and fixed in its focal direction.

set the speed of your gimbal motors

Beware of hyperlapse gimbal drift

If you have already used a gimbal for slow camera movements, you might have noticed a common problem: gimbal drift. There are few things more annoying than your gimbal slowly drifting and panning or tilting your camera in an unwanted direction. The problem is especially prominent during temperature changes, as the gyro and accelerometer sensors are not impervious to changes in the shooting environment. Learn about how your gimbal calibrates its sensors and whether you can access this calibration routine on location to alleviate the drift problem. Nevertheless, especially over long shooting durations, expect some drift and prepare a way to correct it with the joystick of your gimbal.   

Back at the starting point, it is time for a last pre-hyperlapse check.

To do immediately before the shoot

As already described, the situation at the end location can be quite different from the starting location. Take a moment to think about whether the lighting context or the focus distance will change dramatically between these two perspectives. If there is a dramatic change, think about a way to ramp between the two settings, such as autofocus or aperture value mode for changing exposure. Alternatively, you can select a good middle ground between the two extremes (recommended).

Focal length

The good news: As you will not touch your camera during the hyperlapse shoot, accidentally changing the focal length on a zoom lens is not an issue.
The bad news: Despite shooting on a gimbal, you will still have to stabilise the footage afterwards and thus crop into the composition. Leave some room around your subject and choose a focal length a bit shorter than what you would ideally have in mind for this subject.


Select the lowest f-stop number available on your lens and focus on the subject as diligently as you can. Do this by digitally zooming in on your camera and then focusing on the point you plan to remain on during the shoot.


Modern cameras offer great dynamic range and retain information in both bright and dark areas of the frame. Nevertheless, you will still have subjects and contexts that are beyond your camera’s capabilities, such as shooting directly against the sun. Make sure that the dynamic range best shows and exposes what your hyperlapse is about by adjusting the values of the exposure triangle: ISO, aperture and shutter speed.


Ideal f-stops for crisp images over the entire frame are typically between 5.6 and 11. I recommend shooting at f8 if your subject and ND filter situation allow it in combination with your desired shutter speed.

Shutter speed

In order to achieve spatial motion blur, use the 180-degree shutter angle guideline. In other words, set the shutter speed to half your interval. Do not go slower than 0.5 seconds as a rule of thumb. As there are multiple variables that influence the longest shutter speed possible, I recommend taking a few test shots along the path and checking if the images turn out consistently sharp.

ND filters

As you have probably already guessed, if you set the aperture for maximum sharpness and the shutter speed for the desired amount of motion blur, only the ISO value is left to adjust exposure. On a bright day, it might not be enough to reduce the ISO to its lowest setting. So, to keep artistic control, we need another way of darkening the image. Neutral density filters to the rescue! The filter I find myself using the most is an ND64 on bright days. ND filters are a great investment not just for hyperlapses, but also for video and static time lapse production. Invest in glass!

Gimbal settings

Start up your calibrated gimbal and set it to chicken head / full-lock mode. Make sure your way of subtly correcting drift is operational.


Be it external or internal, set the proper interval and the number of photos you wish to capture on your intervalometer. For this example of a first gimbal hyperlapse, set it to 250 photos and a 1-second interval.

You have chosen the starting position? The framing, gimbal and camera are all set?

Shooting the gimbal hyperlapse

Time to press the start button on your intervalometer and start walking!

start shooting your gimbal hyperlapse

Take evenly spaced steps and listen to the shutter giving you a consistent rhythm. Your aim is to move continuously, almost gliding or hovering over the ground. While exhausting, your future self will be thankful for ensuring such smooth sailing in post-production.

Walk the straight path towards your subject and correct small drifting errors with the joystick of your gimbal.  

Congratulations! Time to take a moment and rejoice. You now have the ingredients for a smooth gimbal hyperlapse that bends time and space!

Post-production of your gimbal hyperlapse

Hopefully, you are as eager as I usually am to see how the hyperlapse turned out, so post-production can begin.


Start by importing your footage into the computer. Then sort the hyperlapse photos into a dedicated folder for easier handling.  

Software requirements

Your editing software needs to support two features: treating image sequences as video files and a way of stabilising shaky footage. Most modern programs will be up to the task. However, for its capability to import RAW photo sequences and the option to both automatically and manually stabilise shaky footage, I recommend Adobe After Effects. Some of the next steps will be specific to Adobe After Effects.   

From photos to video

When importing a sequence of photos as a video file, open the import dialogue in Adobe After Effects. Navigate to the folder that contains your photos. Select the first photo and check the “image sequence” box before clicking on import. This will tell the software to treat the sequence as a video file. In the project window, right-click on your clip and select “interpret footage”. As your sequence does not have any data concerning the frame rate, you need to tell After Effects the proper frames per second. In my case, that is usually 25 fps (PAL).

RAW versus JPEG

As a well-versed photographer you are probably aware of the benefits of capturing photos in RAW. Those files interpreted as video can slow your editing software down to the speed of a slug. If that is the case, you might want to work with a sequence of photos compressed as JPEG. I highly recommend shooting in RAW and investing the extra time to grade the photos before exporting them to the compressed JPEG format. You can use specialised tools, such as Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw, to copy a single grade from one photo to the entire sequence. If your sequence flickers or you need to animate a grading parameter over the entirety of the sequence, use LRTimelapse. This is the most powerful tool for creatively working with RAW time lapse sequences.

Hyperlapse stabilisation

Shooting a hyperlapse on a gimbal and still having to stabilise? Is something amiss? Although we created a better starting point by mounting the camera on a gimbal, in most cases even gimbal hyperlapses are shaky. Luckily, there are potent options in modern video editing software, such as Adobe’s warp stabiliser.


To use the warp stabiliser in After Effects, we need to first make a composition from our hyperlapse sequence. Drag the sequence on the composition icon and select the layer inside the composition window. You can create the composition manually in the resolution and aspect ratio of your desired delivery context, such as a 9:16 story for social media for example.

Pro tip: I recommend staying in the original resolution as long as possible for archival purposes and future projects.

Warp stabilisation

Warp Stabilizer

In the effects window, choose the “warp stabiliser” effect and apply it to the hyperlapse layer. The default values should give you a good idea whether the effect works well or not on your clip. Then go grab something to drink or do some brief exercise – the analysis may take a while.

Gimbal hyperlapse quality check

Once the analysis is complete and after a short RAM preview, we can finally see the hyperlapse we have created. When checking the quality, you want to look at two main indicators:

  1. Is there excessive distortion, especially close to the edges of the frame?
  2. How far did the automatic warp stabiliser analysis crop into the video?    

If both the crop and the visual result are good, you are ready to move on to the exporting stage.

Advanced stabilisation

Sometimes the basic stabilisation does not yield sufficiently smooth results or displays excessive distortion. In these cases, you can try tweaking the settings of the warp stabiliser. A good first target is the smoothing value. Excessive crop or distortion can often be alleviated by reducing the number from 50 to a low value of 3, for example.

The second option to tweak is the type of stabilisation being performed. You can choose and switch easily between “warp”, “position, scale, rotation” and only “position”.

Sometimes the distortion can be alleviated, but at the low smoothing value, the video is shaky again. In this case, make a subcomposition from the video layer and apply the warp stabiliser once more. This process can be repeated until the video is smooth. If the warp stabiliser fails entirely, you can use the manual tracker in After Effects to stabiliser the clip. As this is rarely the case with a gimbal hyperlapse, I recommend reading about this option in the handheld hyperlapse article.

Exporting your gimbal hyperlapse video

Success! I hope your hyperlapse has turned out great and you are now ready to export the final video.   

Current delivery contexts

A plethora of aspect ratios is available for the budding hyperlapse creator. Landscape, portrait, Full HD, 4k, 8k… and the options are only increasing. However, by choosing to create a hyperlapse from high-resolution photos, you increased your own delivery options as well. As you left enough headroom around your subject, you can crop and export the video to most delivery contexts without loss of quality.   

If you do not want to go to a specific aspect ratio and resolution just yet, I recommend you render an archival version of your hyperlapse for future use. A high-quality codec with a sufficient bitrate could be the Apple Prores codec with 422 colour subsampling on Mac OS or the equivalent Avid DnxHR codec on Windows.  


Sit back and enjoy your hyperlapse, because you should be proud! Share the dramatic hyperlapse goodness you have created with the world and stay tuned for our next article.

How to create a hyperlapse with a tripod

How to create a hyperlapse with a tripod

In this article we will teach you how to achieve this end result only using your camera and a tripod:

Article Series: “How to create the perfect Hyperlapse”

This article is part of our series “How to create the perfect hyperlapse”. Over the next few months, we are going to learn about different techniques, their pros and cons, and when which technique is used best. To be informed about new articles and updates to the time lapse world, please subscribe to our newsletter.

Read: How to create a hyperlapse with a tripodRead article: How to create a Hyperlapse with a gimbalComparison: How to create the perfect Hyperlapse

This guide will show you how to plan, capture and post process a dramatic tripod hyperlapse. We will look at the best practices as well as the pitfalls in easy-to-follow instructions that cover everything from planning to the final video. Let’s dive in!

Tripod hyperlapses stem from a time before in-camera stabilisation and motorised gimbals – back when taking sharp handheld photos in challenging lighting conditions was actually challenging. Are tripod hyperlapses still relevant in this day and age? The answer is a resounding yes!

By following our guide, you will not only learn how to plan, capture and post-process a tripod hyperlapse from start to finish, but you’ll also discover why the results set the tripod hyperlapse apart from the rest of the pack.


Hyperlapse adds dramatic camera movement to time lapse production techniques. The goal of this article is to give you a comprehensive guide to creating a tripod hyperlapse. Some basic time lapse terminology and post-production knowledge will therefore be helpful. If you are completely new to shooting and post-processing time lapses, check out our introductory articles.

Basic time lapse shooting
Basic time lapse post-production

For a tripod hyperlapse you basically take a photo, move the tripod to the next position and take another photo. You repeat this process until you reach your end position.

tripod hyperlapse

If the goal is to create a 10-second clip, you will have to shoot 250 photos (assuming a frame rate of 25 fps). Other frame rates work in the same way. Simply multiply the desired output frames per second by 10 to calculate the number of photos necessary for a 10-second clip. Easy. (Read all about it here: How to choose the perfect time-lapse interval)

Packing your camera bag

You will need to bring the following:

  • Camera with a grid overlay function (if your camera doesn’t have this, bring a whiteboard marker or some opaque tape)
  • Tripod
  • Lens
  • Storage medium
  • Full battery
  • Neutral density (ND) filter (if you are shooting during the day)

Hardware and software for post-production

RAW photos are big and we’ll produce a lot of them. Therefore, you should reserve hard drive space accordingly. For example, a 10-second hyperlapse clip using Sony A7rIII RAW photos amounts to roughly 10 gigabytes of footage.

You will need to process the RAW photos to work with them in your video editor. This usually happens in software such as Adobe Lightroom. Any other software that enables you to batch-process and grade the photos works just as well.

After the processing you will open the sequence as a video to polish it. Automatic stabilisation suffices in many cases, but especially with tripod hyperlapses you might have to manually stabilise the clip. The software we recommend for manual as well as automatic stabilisation is Adobe After Effects.

Optional software

LRTimelapse adds ramping and deflickering capabilities to Adobe Lightroom and is therefore a necessity for sunrise and sunset hyperlapses. The deflickering capabilities are often useful for fixed lighting situations as well.

Once you are prepared for the shoot, the next step is to decide on a perfect tripod hyperlapse subject.

Choosing the right subject for your tripod hyperlapse

There are a few factors to consider before you go out and shoot.


The first thing to be aware of is that you will not be able to move your tripod quickly from one position to the next. Therefore, all fast processes are better captured with a gimbal or handheld. A good starting point is an interval of at least 10 seconds between exposures. This will give you enough time to move the tripod and adjust the pan and tilt angle of the camera. A common mistake is to forget about the increasing duration of the exposures during sunset. Be aware of this limitation when deciding on a minimum interval for your subject. This will determine if it even makes sense to use a tripod for the subject.

Working height

Placing a tripod and adjusting the camera perspective might feel easy and fast to do if you only have to do it once. When you have to do it 250 times, otherwise unimportant factors, such as the height of the tripod, become very relevant. The same holds true for the distance you need to move your tripod.

Stride distance

When choosing a subject, you also need to think about what distance to cover with the movement of your hyperlapse. This is another case where tripod hyperlapses shine with flexibility. You can choose everything from metres to centimetres for the stride distance. For example, if you have two centimetres as the distance between photos, you can simply use the legs of the tripod as an indicator of how far you have moved the camera. This is a task that would be much more difficult when shooting handheld or on a gimbal. And this is especially true at long intervals.

This leads us into the next big topic: smooth movement.

Smooth movement in front of the camera

When something passes through your camera’s field of view quicker than your shooting interval and you capture it with a fast shutter speed, it will prominently show up in only one frame. If this thing covers most of your frame, it will introduce flicker to your hyperlapse. We do not like flicker!

Flicker and ND filters

Luckily, shooting on a tripod lets you shoot with longer shutter speeds. Motion blur is one remedy for the issue of flicker from fast particles or processes in front of the camera. There is no limit to how long you can expose from a sturdy tripod and I recommend you take advantage of this. A typical scenario one often encounters is when there are people or birds in front of scenic landmarks. If you want to show how the sun, clouds or shadows move in relation to this landmark, don’t let the busy people stop you.

Use a strong ND filter to create 250 proper motion blur trails, instead of 250 group photos.     

Now that we know how to avoid unappealing movement in front of the camera, let’s look at how to ensure a smooth impression of our camera movement.

Smooth camera movement through space

With a gimbal, you have the option to move the camera even during the exposure (up to a certain shutter speed ~0.5 seconds). This motion blur at the edges of the frame cannot be achieved with a traditional tripod hyperlapse. A smooth moving hyperlapse depends on your iron will and focus during the capturing process (and digital stabilisation, of course).

You need to consistently align the grid and point for 250 photos. Choose a subject that offers a smooth walkway surface for the entire length of your chosen camera path. Bonus points if it also offers dividable patterns on the ground. An example would be smooth pavement with a tile pattern. You could, for example, take four photos per tile to keep a consistent stride – so convenient!

When you capture longer periods of time, such as a sunrise or sunset, think about whether the path will be obstructed when you reach a point close to the end of your path. Groups of tourists often seemingly conspire for this very reason. You won’t be able to wait for them to pass, as your interval needs to march on at a constant pace.

Pro tip: If you shoot at a tourist hotspot, arrive before or after the masses appear.

In conclusion, choose a subject with a suitable path leading to it. Try to capture longer processes such as slow clouds. When composing your image, allow for a crop of 10-20 percent for image stabilisation. Leave enough room around your subject!     

A path worth treading

You now have everything in your bag and are ready for the last preparations to ensure a smooth shooting experience.

Camera grid
  • Choose a point on your subject that you’ll want to keep in the same position in the frame. This is where the grid overlay of your camera will really help you. (Alternatively, a mark with a whiteboard pen or a piece of tape will do.)
  • Determine the framing at the start and the end of your path. Walk the distance while counting the steps you have to take. If you need 125 steps or more for your 250-frame hyperlapse, steps are a good enough unit of measurement. If you only cover a short path, look at other recurring patterns you can divide on the ground. When the location does not offer any help in this respect, but you still want to only cover a short distance, use chalk to mark every camera position along the camera path. The calculation is always as follows: number of steps (tiles, etc.) divided by the number of photos. So, 250 steps divided by 250 photos equals 1 step per photo.


  • Now you will have to determine the interval that showcases the process you want to depict best. This interval has to give you enough time to move and adjust your camera. A good starting point is 10 seconds between exposures with a stride distance of one step.

You have walked the path and crunched the numbers. Time to bring out the equipment!

Checking your hyperlapse gear  

You will take 250 photos in a row without a chance to switch cards or batteries in between. Therefore, I advise you to be extra careful when preparing the gear to avoid mid-shoot frustration.

Checks in advance

  • Ensure there’s enough camera storage space.
  • Check the battery level.
  • Mirrorless cameras are particularly susceptible to dust and hair spots on the sensor that will ruin your hyperlapse. Check the sensor beforehand.
  • Clean your lens if necessary.
  • For fixed lighting situations, the manual mode will work best. If you capture sunset or any other changing environment, aperture value mode with a fixed maximum exposure time is the way to go.
  • The exposure value (EV) indicator and the histogram are helpful during a hyperlapse, as the brightness often changes during the shoot for several reasons.
  • Activate the grid overlay or mark the middle of your screen with a whiteboard marker.
  • Switch to the RAW file format (and never switch back).
  • If your camera has limiting settings, turn them off. (Picture profiles in Sony Alpha line cameras!)
  • Test mount your camera on your tripod and balance it.

Settings immediately before the first exposure

The following paragraphs apply if the lighting conditions stay the same over the duration of the shoot.

Focal length

The focal length is a creative choice and therefore we want maximum flexibility. On zoom lenses, try to frame the shot at one of the two extreme positions of the focal range, so you don’t accidentally change it.


Telling what exactly is in focus can be difficult in bright daylight on a small camera screen. Open the aperture as wide as possible to make this task easier. Digitally zoom in as much as possible into the frame and focus on your chosen point on the subject. Keep the focus manual and ideally fixed throughout the shoot.


When you are satisfied with the focus, switch to an f-stop that offers the best sharpness on your lens. Typically, an f-stop between 5.6 and 11 creates the best results.


The goal when adjusting the exposure is to maintain information in both bright and dark areas. You can control how much light hits the sensor by adjusting one of the three values of the exposure triangle. While clipped highlights are often not recoverable, underexposed areas can be lifted quite a bit in post-processing.

Shutter speed

The strength of a tripod is keeping the camera still. This allows for a lot of creative freedom when choosing your shutter speed. Shutter speed determines how the movement in front of the camera will appear. Smooth and cinematic movement follows the concept of a shutter angle of 180 degrees.

Neutral density filters

If you read carefully, you might have noticed that the recommended settings for aperture and shutter speed do not yet account for proper exposure. During daytime, your ISO will quickly hit the bottom limit. Therefore, it is of little help when trying to use an open aperture or a longer shutter speed.

Hence, we need a fourth option to control the amount of light: neutral density filters (a.k.a. sunglasses for your lens). Moreover, you will be able to follow the recommendations of this guide. A good ND filter collection for daytime tripod hyperlapses with a full-frame camera starts around an optical density of 1.8 (ND64).

With all of these preparations and considerations taken care of, there are only 250 exposures between your first exposure and the raw material for a truly magnificent hyperlapse.

Shooting the tripod hyperlapse

  • Align your camera with the point on your subject and take your first picture.
  • Wait for the exposure to finish and move the tripod to the next position.
  • Adjust the camera tilt and pan to align the chosen point with the marking on your screen and repeat.
  • Follow a straight path and stay focused.
  • Do not touch the camera setup during exposures.

If you did not know how meditative hyperlapse creation with a camera and tripod can be, now you do. Congratulations, you have made it through a lengthy setup and capture process. Time to take a deep breath. You have created the raw footage for a camera move that plays most elegantly with time and space – chapeau!

Tripod Hyperlapse unstabilized

Tripod hyperlapse post-production

Back from the shooting adventure it is time to look at the pieces and polish the hyperlapse.


Take the sequence you have captured and move the images to a separate folder. You might have to sift through your photos and look for the first and last usable frame of your hyperlapse. Renaming and handling the sequence from your editing software is a lot easier from a dedicated folder.

Software requirements

Now that the organisation is done, your video editing software will give you the first proper visual feedback of what you have created. If you did a thorough job during the capturing, most stabilisation software will work well enough. However, even under the most perfect circumstances, there will be inaccuracies in the framing. Depending on the degree of these inaccuracies, you might have to (semi-)manually stabilise the footage as well. A reliable tool is the motion tracker in Adobe After Effects.

From photos to hyperlapse video

Video editing can take a while, even on a fast computer. Hyperlapses, with their massive data rates and resolution, are even more difficult to work with. Enter image compression. My format of choice is .jpg. So, why not just shoot in .jpg instead of RAW? A wider dynamic range is usually worth preserving and the colour grade will be more dramatic.

The typical workflow to get from photos to video starts with photo editing software such as Adobe Lightroom. The goal is to batch grade all the images with the same settings and export them to .jpg. If you need to ramp individual lightroom/camera raw settings, now is the time to open LRTimelapse.

With the image sequence graded and ready for stabilisation, open After Effects. Open the import dialogue and click on the first image of your sequence. Choose the “image sequence” checkbox before clicking “open”.

Tip: This step might fail if your sequence is not named with sequential numbers.

A photo sequence does not have a predetermined frame rate. Therefore, you need to right-click on the video in the project panel and select “interpret footage”. There you can conform the clip to the frame rate of your choice. In our example, that is 25 fps.

Hyperlapse stabilisation

unstabilized footage
unstabilized footage vs. stabilized footage

Most surfaces where you will capture a hyperlapse are not perfectly level, even if they seem so at first glance. Luckily, there are powerful stabilisation tools at our disposal. The automatic “warp stabiliser” and the semi-automatic “stabilise motion tracker” are two such tools.

To utilise the warp stabiliser, start by creating a new composition from your clip. To maintain maximum flexibility and quality, stick with the original resolution for now. You can still reframe and crop to your desired aspect ratio and resolution at a later stage.  

Inside the composition, drag the “warp stabiliser” effect on the clip and wait for it to finish analysing. This will take a while. Time for a little break!

Quality check

Look at both the visual result and the necessary additional crop into the frame. If the crop or the distortion is too pronounced, try reducing the smoothness to a lower value such as 5 percent. You can also try switching between “subspace warp”, “position” and “position, scale, rotation” to reduce a possible warping problem.  

Advanced stabilisation

Sometimes the result is just not smooth enough. In this case, you have two options: If the result is already somewhat okay, try to nest the composition and apply the warp stabiliser again to the new layer. If the hyperlapse is still very shaky or if the warp stabiliser failed entirely, you will want to look at the other stabilisation methods After Effects offers.

In the tracker window of After Effects, select stabilise motion with two points. Two points offer stabilisation for position, rotation and scale. While position and rotation are necessary for a traditional smooth motion impression, stabilising for scale will create a vertigo/dolly zoom effect – very dramatic! The tracked points need to be on the same distance plane and ideally on your subject. Good tracking points are rich in contrast and unique in their visual neighbourhood. The better your choice, the less manual adjusting you will have to do.

After the tracking is done, you can apply the resulting keyframes to the clip and watch the result. As this is more of a manual effect, you will have to adjust the scale of the entire layer to get rid of the black borders around the hyperlapse.

Last resort

If you are still not satisfied with the result, try nesting the composition again and stabilising the result. The warp stabiliser will much more likely give you the perfect result this time around.

Exporting the hyperlapse video

You are almost done on your path to a wonderful tripod hyperlapse. All that is left to do is to export the stabilised clip.

Current delivery contexts

The raging battle between devices and aspect ratios creates a plethora of resolutions you might want to export to. Luckily, the high resolution and quality of a hyperlapse from still images allows you to crop to most aspect ratios and resolutions. The headroom you left around your subject during the shoot will prove invaluable now.

Going directly to the delivery format or creating an archival version of the hyperlapse is up to you. I recommend first exporting an archival version. An easy-to-edit codec such as Apple ProRes 422 or Avid DnxHR will work well.

Congratulations on making it through this guide and creating your first tripod hyperlapse! Enjoy the magnificent visual treat you have created.

How to create a handheld hyperlapse

How to create a handheld hyperlapse

In this article we will teach you how to achieve this end result only using your camera:

Article Series: “How to create the perfect Hyperlapse”

This article is part of our series “How to create the perfect hyperlapse”. Over the next few months, we are going to learn about different techniques, their pros and cons, and when which technique is used best. To be informed about new articles and updates to the time lapse world, please subscribe to our newsletter.

How to create a Hyperlapse with a tripodRead article: How to create a Hyperlapse with a gimbalComparison: How to create the perfect Hyperlapse

This guide will show you how to plan, capture and post process a dramatic handheld hyperlapse. We will look at the best practices as well as the pitfalls in easy-to-follow instructions that cover everything from planning to the final video. Let’s dive in!


Handheld hyperlapse in a nutshell

Before we get started, we need to make sure that the basic time lapse terminology is clear. Essentially, all hyperlapse techniques add camera movement to the basic time lapse shooting technique. I suggest you familiarise yourself with our introductory articles on time lapse production if you are new to shooting time lapse:

Basic time lapse shooting
Basic time lapse post production

For a handheld hyperlapse, you basically take a step, take a photo, take another step, take another photo and so on and so on to achieve the end result seen above.

Take a step, take a photo, take another step, take another photo and so on and so on

Packing the backpack

Now that we are firm on the basics, let’s look at what we will need along the way to create a single 10-second, 25-frames-per-second handheld hyperlapse clip.

Equipment to bring with you:

  • Camera (make sure you have the option to turn on a grid overlay on your camera. If you can’t change the display settings to show a grid, bring some tape or a whiteboard marker)
  • Lens  
  • Storage medium
  • A full battery
  • An intervalometer (many modern cameras offer internal intervalometers; have a look and search the web for your camera model before purchasing an external intervalometer)
Camera and leaves

Hardware and software for post production:

  • Enough storage space suitable for RAW sequences (one 10-second clip of 42 MB Sony A7rIII raw photos = a 10 GB file)
  • Adobe Lightroom
    • Alternative: Adobe Camera Raw in combination with Adobe Bridge
  • Video editing software that allows you to import photo sequences and has stabilisation capabilities such as DaVinci Resolve, Adobe Premiere or Adobe After Effects
    • We recommend Adobe After Effects for the manual tracking capabilities as an additional option if the warp stabiliser fails

Optional software:

  • LRTimelapse
    • This piece of software is necessary if you intend to shoot sunset hyperlapses with changing exposure settings or if your video flickers

Now we know what to bring and prepare to be ready for our handheld hyperlapse shoot. But what makes the difference between a good hyperlapse and a great hyperlapse?

Choosing your hyperlapse photo subject

It all starts with the right subject. The goal is smooth movement of the camera through space as well as smooth movement in front of the camera. To make sure that the movement in front of the camera is smooth, we have two important questions to answer:

  • Can we maintain a fixed interval along the path we plan to cover?
  • Do objects or people move faster through our field of view than the time between two photos? If a car passes through our frame in 2 seconds, but we shoot at an interval of 4 seconds, each car will only be visible for one single frame. This will introduce unwanted flicker. This will also happen frequently with people or birds passing through your frame.

Smooth movement of the camera through space depends mostly on your iron will and focus. However, there are some settings that make life a lot easier. Look for a subject that offers a flat walking path and surface. This way it will be easier to evenly space your steps and intervals between photos. Tiles or patterns on the ground help as well. I suggest walking the path once before you commit to the actual shooting. This way you can also look for any obstructions along the path. The goal is to always maintain a clear view of a central point in your subject. This is paramount, as you will have to lock on to that point with the camera grid on your display.

Camera grid and stationary subject
Turn on your grid and look for a stationary object to fixate

Handheld hyperlapses are swiftly captured and require little equipment and preparation. However, there are some limitations to keep in mind. Motion blur is not an option, neither from camera movement nor from movement in front of the camera. Small and relatively fast-moving particles, people, birds or cars will introduce flicker in the shot and should be avoided when deciding on a composition. Stick with slower processes such as clouds. Depending on the capturing conditions and your skill, you might have to crop 10-20 percent into the video later during stabilisation on the computer. Keep this in mind and leave enough space around the main photo subject for the stabilisation.

Pro Tip: For the best stabilisation results, avoid dramatic changes in camera angle paired with short focal lengths. Longer focal lengths and a photo subject far away are preferable when it comes to easy and reliable stabilisation.

Testing the path and selecting an interval

Great! You have found a hyperlapse subject and are ready to start taking photos. Let’s go through a few pre-hyperlapse checks to guarantee a smooth shooting experience.

  • Choose a stationary object to lock on to with the point on your display. This can either be done with the internal grid overlay of your camera or a mark you make on the screen with a whiteboard marker.
  • Walk the path and count your steps from start to finish.
    • If you need 250 steps or more, you are good to go!
    • If you need fewer than 250 steps, try to find a smaller recurring unit of measurement either on the ground – such as tiles – or by taking small steps the length of your shoe. Small distances between shots will be difficult to shoot handheld and are not recommended – stick with one step as a minimum distance between consecutive shots.
    • Divide the number of steps by the number of frames to capture. 250 steps on the path divided by 250 photos = 1 photo per step. 500 steps on the path divided by 250 photos = 1 photo every other step, etc.
  • What interval is best suited for this hyperlapse subject? Think about how long objects or people need to pass through your frame and decide on your interval. This will depend on your shot’s field of view as well as the speed of the objects/people.
  • The number of steps between two shots will also factor into the shortest possible interval between two shots, as you must walk a bigger distance. To test the minimal interval, you can ask a friend to count the time it takes you to get from one test capture to the next along the way. A good starting point for an interval with one step distance is 4 seconds.

Gear check

The path is clear, and you are ready to start. Does that apply to your equipment as well? There are a few things that need to be checked.  

To do in advance:

  • Make sure there is enough space left on the camera storage.
  • The battery must last for the entire duration, as changing will not be possible as you would not be able to keep the interval.
  • Look at the lens and especially at the sensor for dust spots or hair. If you use a filter, make sure it is clean as well.
  • Turn on in-camera or lens stabilisation if available.
  • Select either the manual mode for fixed lighting situations or the aperture value mode for dramatically changing lighting conditions during the shooting timeframe.
  • To get a reading on whether the photos are still correctly exposed during the shoot, turn on the EV (exposure value) indicator. Most cameras have it on by default.
  • Turn on the grid overlay in your viewfinder or on the monitor.
  • Enable the RAW file format.
  • Turn off potentially limiting settings such as the picture profile setting on the Sony A7 models.
  • Turn on the level indicator on your camera if available to make keeping the roll axis horizontal easier.

To do immediately before shoot:

Take a short moment to think about whether the lighting or focus distance change dramatically along the path. If they do, you will have to adjust the settings at the end position as well and figure out a way to ramp between the two settings – such as auto focus if you move substantially closer to the subject or aperture value mode for automatically adjusted shutter speed to keep a proper exposure along the path.

Fixate on one point

Back at the starting point of your walking path, switch your camera on and adjust in this order:

Focal length:
If you have a zoom lens, make sure you will not accidentally change it during the walk. Extreme positions of the focal length ring are the preferable positions. This helps as you are half as likely to change the focal length during the shoot by accident than if you use a setting somewhere in the middle.  

Check your focal length
Extreme positions of the focal length ring are the preferable positions

Open the aperture of your lens as wide as possible by selecting the lowest ‘f’ number available. This will keep the focus shallow and help you to see in what distance the focus lies. Zoom in on the image and focus manually. Keep the focus manual throughout the shoot.

Set the correct exposure to retain information in both bright and dark areas by adjusting one of the three values of the exposure triangle. You can control the amount of light that hits the camera sensor with the aperture, the iso and the shutter speed. (Read all about it in Manual mode for beginners)

Switch to the desired aperture. Typically, an f stop between 5.6 and 11 is a good choice. For maximum sharpness, I recommend f8 in bright daylight.

Shutter speed:
Use the reciprocal rule to determine whether the shutter speed is fast enough to avoid camera shake/blur from shooting handheld. This rule states that the shutter speed should be at least the reciprocal of the focal length. Shooting at 25 mm equals, at the very slowest, 1/25th of a second. To be sure that every shot turns out sharp, I would suggest 1/50th of a second. This is half the exposure time of the reciprocal rule.

Shooting the handheld hyperlapse

With the above taken care of, there is nothing left to do other than walk the path and capture the photos that will make up your handheld hyperlapse.

  • Start your intervalometer.
  • Take evenly spaced steps.
  • Find a fixed step rhythm and keep it.
  • Walk a straight path and stay focused on the chosen point of your subject.

Congratulations, you now have the raw material for a dramatic camera move that blends time and space – exciting!

Handheld Hyperlapse unstabilized
Handheld Hyperlapse unstabilized

Post production

Hopefully still in awe of the beauty of your subject, the post production process can begin.  


Start by importing your sequence of photos to a folder on your workstation. You probably took other photos besides the hyperlapse sequence, which means that it might be necessary to sift through your files and locate the first and last frame of the hyperlapse.

Move your selected photos to an individual folder for this handheld hyperlapse. Give the folder a clear name, such as “handheld_hyperlapse_01”. By doing this you will find it more easily from the editing software.

Software requirements

The final step in creating this one-of-a-kind time lapse camera move happens in the digital realm. Fire up your favourite video editing software and prepare for greatness! Your editing software needs to support two things: importing an image sequence as a video and a way to stabilise shaky footage. Some of the next steps will be specific to Adobe After Effects. Adobe After Effects is my recommendation for polishing both hyperlapse and time lapse sequences.

From photos to video

In your editing software, import the image sequence by selecting the first photo and checking “image sequence” before clicking on import. This will tell the editing program to look at the photos as a single video file.

If you capture raw photos instead of .jpg and your editing software does not support raw files, convert them to the compressed .jpg format beforehand. You can use Adobe Camera Raw or Adobe Lightroom, for example. This will give you the option to also grade one photo and copy the grade to the others before the export to .jpg. If your workstation is not ultrafast, it will also be easier to work with a .jpg sequence than its raw equivalent.  

If you want to ramp the grade or make smooth exposure corrections between a start and end frame, you will have to use specialised tools such as LRTimelapse. LRTimelapse is also recommended if you already know beforehand that there will be flicker in the sequence, as it offers tools for deflickering.

In After Effects, the ‘camera raw’ interface will automatically open when importing a raw image sequence. The interface allows you to adjust the image as you please. Let your creative ideas shine and use all the grading tools at your disposal! Keep in mind that what you are adjusting is the first frame. Once you are finished with tweaking the look of your image, the grade will automatically be applied to all subsequent images.

The sequence should be visible as a video file. Make sure that the clip has the right framerate setting. Right click and open the “interpret footage” dialog to set the framerate. I use 25 fps, as that is the standard for Europe (PAL). This will produce a 10-second video from 250 photos.


As humans are not born with wheels for feet and bubble levels for hands, some camera shake is to be expected when shooting handheld. You probably already guessed that we will not be able to enjoy a perfectly smooth handheld hyperlapse straight out of the camera. However, if you have followed this guide closely, even a wobbly raw video can be turned into buttery smooth hyperlapse goodness with some post production love. The key is stabilisation. When using Adobe After Effects or Adobe Premiere Pro, the recommended effect is called “warp stabilizer”.

Hyperlapse unstabilized


To utilise this effect, we first make a new composition from the image sequence. Drag the imported image sequence onto the composition icon in the project window and select your desired resolution. I recommend keeping the full resolution of the image sequence for archival purposes, future projects or stock footage. But if you want to go straight to 4K resolution in 16:9, for example, then you can do that in this step.

Warp stabilisation:

In the effects window, choose “warp stabilizer” and apply it with the default values. Now go grab something to drink or pet a cat if available; the analysis will take a little while.

Quality check:

Warp Stabilizer
Warp Stabilizer

Time to come back and look at the stabilisation results. If you are satisfied with the smoothness, you can move on to the next step. However, sometimes there is unwanted, excessive distortion. This occurs especially in the corners. The excessive warping can often be alleviated by reducing the smoothing setting to a low value such as 3 percent. You can also try to change the stabilisation setting from “warp” to “position, scale, rotation” or to only “position”.

Advanced stabilisation:

If the basic process does not work sufficiently, you can try to nest the composition into a subcomposition and apply the warp stabiliser again. Repeat this process until the resulting hyperlapse is smooth.
Sometimes there are problems during the shoot that are beyond the warp stabiliser’s automatic capabilities. If this is the case, delete the warp stabiliser and use the semi-manual After Effects tracker and its stabilisation feature. You have the option to track one point on the hyperlapse subject and only stabilise (lock) the position of that single point. Or you can use two points the same distance from the camera to also stabilise the rotation. This is the option you most often want to use when stabilising a handheld hyperlapse with the After Effects tracker.

Bonus tip: When you use two tracking points you can also stabilise for scale in addition to position and rotation, which will create a digital vertigo effect – very dramatic!

After Effects Tracker
After Effects Tracker

Last resort:

If that still does not work well enough, first try manually tracking and then warp stabilising the result. You could even combine this result with more warp stabilisers via subcompositions as mentioned before.

There are advanced options in the settings of the warp stabiliser where you can select the tracked points that it takes into consideration. Please refer to specific tutorials if you want to try these settings as a last option.

Exporting the video

Congratulations, you have almost made it through the process of creating a smooth handheld hyperlapse!

Current delivery contexts:

The only thing left to do is to export the stabilised image sequence in your desired output format. With the current variety of viewing devices, media platforms, and resulting aspect ratios and resolutions, it is difficult to settle on one delivery resolution beforehand. Shooting a high-resolution handheld hyperlapse puts you in a comfortable place in this respect. You have the resolution and quality available for exporting the video in every current aspect ratio and resolution without the loss of quality, provided that you left enough headroom around your subject.

Recommended render settings:

output module settings after effects mac

For archival purposes, I recommend that you export the video in the original resolution of the image sequence in a codec that has a sufficient bitrate. On a Mac computer, the go-to codec is Apple Prores, and on a Windows machine, the Avid DnxHR codec offers equally viable results.

I hope you are proud of yourself because you should be! Be proud that you made it through this tutorial and enjoy the visual treat that you created. Go ahead and share it with the world.

This is the first article of our series “How to create the perfect hyperlapse”. Over the next few months, we are going to learn about different techniques, their pros and cons, and when which technique is used best. To be informed about new articles and updates to the time lapse world, please subscribe to our newsletter.

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