Note:  This post also appears on Waggener Edstrom’s Thinkers & Doers blog.

I’m a sucker for time-lapse photography. In fact, the moment I come across the phrase “time-lapse” online, I’m already clicking through to check out the linked content.

Powerful, quality images are, of course, key assets to consider for any digital storytelling initiative. Stand-alone images serve their own purpose in drawing a user’s attention and prompting contemplation within the context of a site. Positioning a single image on a site’s home page and tying in a concise message or call-to-action can tap the pathos of a visitor as an entryway to perception shift.

On that same token, there are times when one image is not sufficient to help convey the full story and message you are trying to present. In such situations, time-lapse photography can serve as a powerful tool to help deliver your message.

Time-lapse photography is certainly not a new concept. Particularly in recent years, we’ve seen time-lapse used for a variety of purposes. It’s become a regular portion of news station weathercasts, serves as a tourism promotional tool and can act as a discussion catalyst to prompt change:

Recently, Walmart posted this time-lapse video showing activity in the store over the course of a 24-hour period. As simple as it appears, the video is a fantastic way to provide a strong visual representation of the high-level of activity within the store.

But, is this enough? Is there more that can be done to take help position a time-lapse spot as a key piece of content in your content-sharing arsenal?


To help you get started, here are five key tips to keep in mind when tackling your own time-lapse project.

1. Strategize — Make sure you think through the primary message you’re planning to convey and map out your key visuals that are going to help drive that message. Get creative! Maybe consider using a time-lapse spot as a  unique way to engage your employees for recruitment purposes or create a sizzle spot that recaps some great project work for a client.

2. Keep It Short — It’s called “time-lapse” for a reason. There’s no point in having a time-lapse video that someone has to watch beyond 1-2 minutes. The shorter, the better. You’ll need to capture an excessive amount of footage but keep in mind that jump-cuts can be played off very smoothly in editing together your final piece.

3. Make It Compelling— Though the Walmart video above is good, it doesn’t tell us anything about what we just watched. Walmart could have worked with the editing team to insert some key stats throughout the video. Adding a note at the end to show how many people passed through the store, tacking on interesting stats around which items were sold or possibly ending with a closing figure on sales would have beefed up the spot. Help your audience put context around your content.

4. Make It Shareable— Be sure to fish where the fish are, uploading your spot to Vimeo,  YouTube and any other applicable audience-relevant video-sharing sites to make it easy for others to post across the Web.

5. Promote — Tweet it, post it, embed it, share it. Do everything possible to let people engage with this content piece. Is there opportunity to create a series of these videos to help tell a bigger message? Can you involve employees and tag them in the spot to help spur attention in your various publishing channels? Make sure you’re considering all options for promotion as opposed to posting and hoping others randomly discover your spot.

Have you tried your own time-lapse project for your company or a client? Feel free to share additional tips below!

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Photography, Thinkers & Doers, Video


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