How to shoot a 360-degree time-lapse video with your phone

Photojojo explains the ins and outs of shooting a panoramic time-lapse video on your phone.

Photojojo's Camalapse is one way to shoot a 360-degree time lapse video. Photojojo

Editors' note: This guest post is part of a five-part series on Photojojo's best photography tips. Check out the rest of Photojojo's tips here.

Time-lapse videos aren't just for pros. With the right accessories and apps, you can shoot, edit, and publish a 360-degree time lapse with just your phone. Let Photojojo guide you through the setup.

What you need:

  • Tripod
  • Your phone
  • Rotating tripod attachment (like the Camalapse)
  • Smartphone tripod mount (like the Glif, or your own DIY solution)

1. Pick your subject
Maybe you've thought about what you'd shoot if you made a still time-lapse video, but a 360-degree time-lapse video is a whole different beast.

What looks awesome in a nonmoving time-lapse won't necessarily look awesome in a rotating one, so think about what would make for a captivating 360.

It could be a carnival, a road trip with a car full of buddies, a construction site, a day at the office, an epic day of cooking or baking in the kitchen, a sunrise or sunset, a packed park, an animal sanctuary, or a simply beautiful landscape over the span of a day. Anything that changes over time and looks cool from a 360 view.

2. Choosing the right app
Since you'll be shooting on your phone, you have two options: the app route and the native camera route.

Yep! You can shoot a time-lapse using your native camera app. It's a shortcut but creates a similar effect. To use your native camera app:

  1. Put your camera in video mode.
  2. Set up your phone in your rotating time lapse attachment. If you're using the Camalapse, twist the Camalapse, and hit record. (Or, if you're the hacker type here's a DIY solution .)
  3. Export your footage to an editing program like iMovie or QuickTime.
  4. Speed up the video, so it plays in a fraction of the time it took to make.

If you decide to go the app route, we recommend Motion Pictures (iOS) or Lapse It (Android and iOS).

Motion Pics lets you choose more options like number of frames, video playback frame rate, and how long your final movie will be.

If you're into a quicker setup, Lapse It narrows down the options. Just pick your interval, resolution, and adjust your exposure and white balance.

Lapse It for Android and iOS lets you shoot, edit, and share time-lapse videos. Screenshot by Sharon Vaknin/CNET

3. Pick an interval
An interval is how long your camera waits between shooting photos. You'll base your decision on how long the event you're shooting is. Is it a sunset? You'll probably want to go for 1-second intervals. If it's something that takes a bit longer, you'll want even longer intervals. For example, if you're shooting something that takes hours or all day, you'll want to aim for something like 5-minute intervals.

To get more precise, you can throw in some math. Most movies play at 20 to 30 frames per second. The more frames per second, the smoother the video plays, so keep that in mind.

We're going to pick a frame rate of 24fps for a smooth video. Next, we'll pick how long we want the movie to be. We'll say 30 seconds. How many frames will we need to shoot? Just multiply the frame rate by the length of the movie: 24fps x 30 seconds = 720 frames.

To calculate the interval for this same video, we'll need to divide the length of the event (in seconds) by how many frames we need to make a 30-second video. We'll say our event is 4 hours. So 14,400 seconds (length of the event) / 720 frames = 20-second intervals.

That's it!

4. Shoot your time lapse
Since you're shooting with your phone, you'll want to make sure you place it somewhere where it will be safe from the weather and anyone who might want to snatch it. If your shoot's short enough to stand by, then you can keep watch over it.

A rotating tripod attachment (like the Camalapse or this DIY rotating attachment ) is the key ingredient to making your time-lapse shoot 360 degrees. To mount your phone to the Camalapse, you'll need a phone tripod mount, like a Glif . Once you've got that on, just twist the device to where you want it to end up, hit record, and let go.

7. Share your time lapse
Once your video's done, pick where you want to share it. If it turned out really well, you'll want all your friends to see it. Vimeo, YouTube, and Facebook are all decent options!

For more phoneography tips, check out Photojojo University. Whether it's DIY tutorials or can't-find-it-anywhere-else photo goodies at the Photojojo Store, Photojojo's on a mission to inspire and share the good word about the greatest photo stuff in the world.

About the author

    Lisbeth Ortega is head editor at photography newsletter and shop Photojojo. She hatches, collects, and shares all the best original DIY photo projects and gee-I-didn't-know-that photo tips to help keep your creativity on its toes.

     

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