How to Time-Lapse a Video on iPhone

Take time-lapse videos with the camera app, or time-lapse any video with iMovie

What to Know

  • Open the camera app, select TIME-LAPSE, and place your iPhone on a tripod. 
  • Aim the camera at the subject you want to time-lapse, then tap and hold the area you want to focus on to lock focus and brightness. 
  • Tap the record button to record your time-lapse video, and tap it again to stop recording.

This article explains how to record a time-lapse video on an iPhone, including instructions for using the time-lapse mode in the camera app and turning a regular iPhone video into a time-lapse video using iMovie.

How Do You Take a Time-Lapse Video on an iPhone?

The camera app does all the work, but you have to set it up correctly. Here’s how to take a time-lapse video with an iPhone:

  1. Open the camera app.

  2. Swipe right on the camera options to select TIME-LAPSE.

    Right swipe and Time-Lapse in iPhone Camera app
  3. Place the iPhone on a tripod.

    An iPhone on a tripod ready to time-lapse a video.

    Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewire

  4. Tap and hold the area you want your video to focus on.

    AE/AF LOCK highlighted in the iPhone camera app.

    Doing this locks the exposure and focus. If you don’t do this, the brightness and focus of your time-lapse video will change every frame.

  5. Tap the record button.

    The record button highlighted in the camera app on an iPhone
  6. When you’re done, tap the record button again.

    The stop recording button highlighted in the iPhone camera app

How Do Time-Lapse Videos on iOS Work?

The default iPhone camera app includes a time-lapse mode that you switch to the same way you switch between video and still photo mode. When you select time-lapse, the camera app automatically records video at a frame rate of 1-2 frames per second instead of the default 30 frames per second.

When the time-lapse video is played back at regular speed, everything appears to move much more quickly than it did in real life. Clouds appear to race across the sky, flower buds open rapidly, leaves turn to face the sun, and other prolonged events will appear to happen a whole lot faster.

Can You Change Time-Lapse Speed on iPhone After Recording?

The camera app automatically selects the time-lapse speed when using the time-lapse mode, and there's no way to change it. You can't change it afterward, but some apps provide more discrete control over time-lapse settings. The Hyperlapse app from Instagram is one option that offers more options, and the OSnap app lets you create both stop motion and time-lapse videos with more control than the default camera app. You can also time-lapse any footage after you've recorded it by editing it in iMovie.

How Do You Time-Lapse a Video on Your iPhone?

If you accidentally recorded a regular video instead of a time-lapse video, or you want a time-lapse version of a video you’ve already taken, you can time-lapse any video on your iPhone using the iMovie app.

While you can time-lapse a video using iMovie, it can only double the speed of your video. The time-lapse feature of the camera app only records 1-2 frames per second versus the default 30 frames for regular speed video, which results in a much stronger time-lapse effect.

Here’s how to time-lapse an existing video on iPhone:

  1. Open iMovie.

  2. Tap + Create Project.

  3. Tap Movie.

  4. Tap the video you want to time-lapse to select it, then tap Create Movie.

    Add (+), Movie, and Create Movie highlighted in iMovie
  5. Tap the video in the timeline.

  6. Tap the clock in the bottom left.

  7. Tap and drag the speed slider to the right.

    Video preview, Clock icon, and speed slider highlighted in iMovie
  8. Tap Done.

  9. Tap the share icon.

  10. Tap Save.

    Done, share icon, and Save Video highlighted in iMovie
  11. Wait for your video to export.

    This process takes up a lot of space. You may need to clear up space on your iPhone to export the video.

  12. The video will be available in your camera roll when it's done.

  • How long are time-lapse videos on iPhone?

    Time-lapse videos on iPhone can last up to 40 seconds depending on the length of the original video. They won't go over 40 seconds no matter how long you record.

  • How much storage do time-lapse videos take up on iPhone?

    Time-lapse videos on iPhone typically take up 40-100 megabytes, far less space than traditional videos. Hyperlapse videos can be even smaller.

  • Can I edit my time-lapse videos on iPhone?

    Yes. You can use the Photos app's video editing features to crop, enhance, and share your time-lapse videos. You can also use other video editing apps like iMovie.

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