How to Slow Down a Time-Lapse Video
By Rianne Hill Soriano
Updated September 22, 2017
Items you will need
Time-lapse video footage
A time-lapse video allows you to view the footage of a progression of events at a much faster pace. With this technique, you can watch a completed video of the moving clouds, the sunset, the blooming of a flower, a cocoon turned into a butterfly, a construction of a building or a landscape from night to day in a matter of a few seconds or minutes. When you edit this footage using a video-editing program, you can also alter the speed of its playback.
Open your time-lapse video in your preferred video-editing program. Although each program may vary when it comes to the exact name and location of its buttons and functions, the basic features typically include speed-altering effects that allow you to slow down or speed up the playback of your original video footage.
Drag your time-lapse video from the “Project” or “Import” window to the “Editing Timeline.” This part of the editing interface is where the actual editing process happens. The timeline features a number of audio and video tracks where you place your sound and visual elements.
Select the program’s “Speed” feature. This is typically under a specific menu program like “Video” or “Video Effects.” Most programs also allow you to alter the speed of a video by right-clicking the actual clip from the "Editing Timeline," then choosing the “Speed” or "Duration" option.
Select the speed you want to use from the window that appears. The default speed for your video is 100 percent. Choosing a percentage lower than this makes the video play slower, while a higher percentage makes the video play faster. Select a program that allows you to choose the time duration as an alternative to choosing the speed-change option, if desired. For example, you can instruct the program to play a two-minute time-lapse video for a duration of three minutes. The program computes the applicable speed to slow down the video playback into a three-minute footage.
View the edited time-lapse footage using the program’s “Preview Window.” If your program doesn’t provide automatic or real-time rendering, you must first render the edited video before you can properly view it with the applied speed or duration change. Rendering refers to the process of generating a new image based on the effects or edit done in the video.
Export your slowed-down, time-lapse footage using your preferred video file format like AVI, MP4, WMV or MOV.
Popular video-editing programs used by both amateurs and professionals include Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro and Sony Vegas. Amateur users also typically use Windows and Mac native programs Windows Movie Maker and iMovie. These programs have standard effects that allow altering the speed of a video so it can be played slower or faster than its original playback speed.
When slowing down your time-lapse video or any other type of video footage, avoid slowing it down too much as this will cause deterioration of video quality. Although there is no rule on the maximum playback speed or slow-down percentage, looking at the rendered video on the program’s “Preview Window” will allow you to judge for yourself up to how much change you can actually use for your video without any significant deterioration of its quality.
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Rianne Hill Soriano is a freelance artist/writer/educator. Her diverse work experiences include projects in the Philippines, Korea and United States. For more than six years she has written about films, travel, food, fashion, culture and other topics on websites including Yahoo!, Yehey! and Herword. She also co-wrote a book about Asian cinema.