How to Use Time-Lapse Photography (the Right Way)

(October 23, 2015) – When trying to convey the passage of time or the course of change, time-lapse photography is a popular option because it’s a visually exciting way to truly highlight progress.


SVG recently recorded a time lapse for Tropicana at their Harvest Festival in Faneuil Hall, right outside our Boston video production office. Our Director of Photography was responsible for obtaining 21 hours of footage in the square.

Originally, the client was intending for the lapse to be captured on a DSLR camera. Our Director of Photography advised against this decision because DSLR cameras are less resistant to the elements than a GoPro.

DSLRs also have a significantly shorter battery life, running on about two hours per battery. This would’ve required near-constant battery changes. The file sizes on a DSLR would’ve also been enormous and would necessitate a large amount of storage space, whereas GoPro files are much more manageable.


Once it was decided that a GoPro would be used, its positioning would next need to be addressed.

The DP could not attach it to any Boston monuments, statues, or buildings without incurring a liability concern, so he was forced to use a small tree in the square. To support the GoPro, a wooden box structure was constructed to balance the camera and also protect it from the weather.

Along with being a seasoned filmmaker, our DP has a strong background in construction, having just built a twenty-foot platform for an independent film two months earlier.

He designed a smaller but similar structure for this shoot. It was then attached to the tree with straps, avoiding hammering it into and damaging the tree. A different tree was initially selected, but upon redesigning the festival layout, he used a tree with a better view and modified his design based on location.

He also connected his phone to a live stream from the GoPro so he could check on the footage and ensure that everything was being recorded as formatted.

Live event videography can be stressful, especially in the center of a thriving city. Although there were signs indicating that the entire event was being recorded, many people were shy or bashful, knowing Chuck was filming them when they saw his camera. The GoPro, on the other hand, was well-camouflaged in the tree, attracting no attention and allowing people to feel relaxed and natural in front of it.

Having the GoPro running from the night before the festival until 9 PM the next day supplemented all of the footage Chuck recorded and expressed the sheer volume of people reached by Tropicana’s Boston promotional video project.

A time lapse is a great way to display growth and change. Such an example as this expanded the promotion beyond a couple of passersby who stopped for an interview, to an entire city that enjoyed games and free juice in a historic meeting place. With the goal being to connect with Boston, the time lapse proves that we met quite a bit of it that day.