How To Avoid Clichés In Timelapse Videos


Pretty much everything looks amazing in timelapse. There’s something about it that’s immediately compelling – the unbreakable law about the passage of time has been broken, which straight away feels exciting. That said, there are a few ideas that kind of feel, well, done.

If you’re putting a timelapse project together, give it a bit of thought. There’s usually not a huge difference between an idea that captures people’s imaginations and one that doesn’t, but that tiny difference – an extra element thrown in here, a slightly different approach there – can be massive.

Things generally become clichés because they’re good, but the umpteenth time you see, say, clouds whipping across the sky, it can be hard to maintain a sense of excitement. What follows are some clichés it’s probably just worth giving a bit of extra thought to if you want your work to stand out.

(Before we continue, we want to throw our hands up and admit that we’re as guilty of all these clichés as anyone else – look at LapseLondon. All we’re trying to do is encourage some out-of-the-box thinking.)

Clouds

Clouds whizzing through the sky just look amazing, and are used lots to scream out “THE PASSAGE OF TIME”. Spielberg loves them. They were in about a dozen episodes of Breaking Bad. They’re brilliant as part of a narrative, but on their own can feel a bit lacking. What’s the story you’re telling, or the mood you want to convey? If the only thing anyone’s going to take away is “clouds exist”, it’s not likely to stick with them very long.

Car headlights/buildings lighting up at night

Zip zip zip, look at all that traffic. Yep. Seen it. Hey, a lit-up building. Again, it’s done a lot primarily because it looks great, but if what’s going on is boring, you might just be making something boring look slightly nicer. Think about the individual frames you’re going to end up with – in an ideal world every single one would be a picture you’d be proud of.

Anything where it feels like it’s just playing at 1.2x

If what you end up with simply feels like a slightly sped-up video, you’re not really giving anyone anything. You’re just creating a slightly less useful experience than if the camera had been filming.

Tourists buzzing around a famous landmark

Seeing holidaymakers buzzing around the Eiffel Tower is fun, but it’s hard to maintain the same enthusiasm when you’ve seen it endless times. What about trying super-ambitious spins on the idea, like Alexander Chin’s sweeping Four Seasons video? Or finding the beauty in less-obvious locations, like canal locks…

“Inspirational” music

Soundtrack choices can make such a big difference. Clever uses of ambient sound, sound effects or off-kilter music can make far more of an impact than some public-domain minimal techno or a Creative Commons tune with an “epic” tag. If you’ve made something really beautiful, don’t let a quick audio choice cheapen it – the visuals are obviously the most important thing, and what you’ve put blood, sweat and tears into, but they’re not all people will experience.

Sigur Ros

Sigur Ros are great, but they’ve found themselves soundtracking an awful lot of timelapse videos. And are an Icelandic band the best choice to soundtrack your timelapse of a New Zealand lake?

Cooking

If there’s one thing the internet loves, apart from cats, it’s food (well, there’s one other thing the internet loves, but let’s leave that). Watching dough rise into bread in a matter of seconds is admittedly endlessly compelling (even if it’s now hard to see without thinking of the green bread in Star Wars: The Force Awakens), but what about messing with the timeline? Dough forming bread is interesting, bread un-baking itself into dough is mind-boggling. And then there’s something like this, which takes the idea of melting ice-cream, adds some props and ends up being oddly emotional.


Have you shot any awesome timelapse lately? 

We want to see! Show us your timelapses by tagging us @Triggertrap and #Triggertrap on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook. If you're in need of some inspiration, dive into our timelapse database, Primelapse.

Before heading out to get stuck into some timelapse, make sure to check out our timelapse checklist blog post to make sure you avoid any potential mishaps!

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