How To Make A Time Lapse Art Video

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In my last blog post I forecasted some more digging about in the topic of time lapse videos especially for artists on Instagram. First off, I must state clearly that I still have a long way to go to learn better videography and editing, but the fantastic news is that your video can still be effective and engaging whilst you are still a hack! 

6+ months ago when the Instagram algorithms were different, my time lapse art video would skyrocket to 60k - 100k views within days. This would result in 100+ followers per 24 hours and so many comments I struggled to reply. Thems were the days!! Currently my video is lucky to hit 30k views before it runs out of steam, but I still notice a marked level of engagement. That's because process is magical. Surely you'll agree it is darn fascinating to watch something grow. It's inspiring and contagious.  It enables us to believe in a process of our very own. In the deepest part of me I yearn for anyone who has lived an existence excluded from creative practise to realise that creativity is actually totally accessible. That they are inherently a channel for creative expression and flow. And that in this activity they would arrive at the deepest sense of loveable identity. There are no exceptions.

Therefore I will gladly share what I have learnt so far using just my iPhone on a tripod. Here is an example of (what I think is!) a successful time lapse video of mine. This one is on my Youtube channel so it was able to run slower without the 60 second time restriction imposed by Instagram. It worked really well with that great natural light. So sorry about the music though! I'll talk about the audio situation further on...


I do bang on about light a lot. Only because it makes ALL the difference. If your light is not good you'll lose colour and definition which leads to a loss of overall effect. Do set up your work in a spot where the light is indirect and natural. I have my studio set up in my garage, and this canvas is on the floor right beside the door where I've pegged up white sheets to diffuse the sunlight streaming in. OH- and don't forget to check your wet media is not going to reflect! It's worth putting some wet paint on some scrap paper or something reflective in the spot where you have your piece set up just to make sure your work isn't going to be lost in a reflection. I've made this mistake, and see it happen frequently enough in other time laspe art videos to make a definite point of talking about it.

Check that you've got your materials, water bucket, extra brushes and media at hand. If you do forget something it's not that big a deal to go and get it while the time lapse is running. I've refilled my water bucket, received parcels from the courier and even retrieved something from the house all while the time lapse is running and you can hardly notice an interruption.


Hopefully you already have a tripod with extendable legs, but if not, I have heard of all manner of make-shift contraptions. It's as if tripods weren't cheap as chips! (I think mine was less than $10 with free shipping on eBay) But we artists have to create make-shift things because we require the job be done immediately. I've heard of somebody taping their phone to the ceiling, and another artist constructing an apparatus from bricks and a plank (was that you, @susannaapril ?) I have such a soft spot for people's brains figuring it out with what they have on hand! I've upgraded my tripod by taping it to a portable easel I had hanging around. It means I can have my phone positioned much higher and directly above my work. 

OK, so I recommend downloading the Hyperlapse app  (here's the link for Android ) because it captures and then allows you to select the speed of the video before processing. This means you can be sure it will be under 60 seconds so nothing will be cut when you upload to Instagram. It's also much smoother to watch than the regular time lapse setting on the iPhone camera.

Once you have the app installed, check that you are not running out of space on your phone! I often upload my camera roll in preparation for multiple time lapse videos.

Now switch your phone to aeroplane mode. It's highly inconvenient to receiving incoming calls during your sesh! But if you forget, don't worry too much... hyperlapse waits and resumes again when you hang up or reject the call. It's a fair bit nuisancey - that's all.

Now you can open the app and position everything so the canvas or other substrate is in good view. Press on the canvas on your screen to lock the focus and the light. Sometimes the clouds cover the sun and there ain't nuthin' to be done about it... but locking the AE/AF does help keep the right things looking good as far as possible.


Press the red button! You might feel pressure to perform right about now. That's okay. Just tell that inner voice to settle the heck down, because this is just for research and imma have me some fun. You might remember (if you read my last post) I discussed the idea of nerves and panic when it comes to filming yourself in your creative process. I recommend that you film your sessions LOTS of times with absolutely no intent to post any of them. At least ten times. Relax into the beautiful process just like you do when there's no camera set up. Relax into the idea that this painting might want to go in a different direction to what you planned, and that's ok too. Just like art itself, quality relies on QUANTITY. So set about making a pile of art and a "pile" of time lapse footage! I bet you will post some of those ten, though. When you see how they are actually extremely, interestingly good you'll post them for sure. And please, please use hashtag #artflowsessions so I get to see it too! If you're still scared, say it in your caption. "I felt anxious about posting this video but I'm doing it anyway #artflowsessions (and a "rock-on" emoji or something)" Captions like that can be SO empowering to other people. I wish I could tell you how many times I post something or caption something and grit my teeth. WE are ALL the SAME. Isn't it rad??!

THERE IS NO NEED TO panic or rush. I think it's worth repeating, in italics. THERE IS NO NEED TO panic or rush. If you think of something you need and spend 2, 3 or even 5 minutes looking for it, please know that this will be hardly noticeable in the time lapse footage. It goes so fast, there is pa-LENTY of time to stop and observe, ponder your work and go mix up a new colour. Whatever you want, babe... just have a lovely time like you usually do.

My September Painting-a-Day pieces 2 and 3/30 in the making. See them for sale  here

My September Painting-a-Day pieces 2 and 3/30 in the making. See them for sale here


WOO! You did it!! Once you've finished the session (for me this is rarely a completed piece, but more a first layer) and you've stopped recording, the app will give you the speed options at which to process and save your time lapse. It will indicate the total time of the video for each speed setting, so if you save your time lapse art video for potentially posting on Instagram, select the speed which results in under 1 minute of footage. The app will then process the footage and give you the option to share on social media. Your video is automatically saved to your camera roll. 

It's always a nice touch to add some complimentary music to your time lapse art video. This is tricky though because Instagram will block your video if it contains content that is subject to copyright. And since I do not have written authorisation from Coldplay, I have to delete the video. Luckily I have siblings that write music, so I often use audio from my sister @b_u_o_y 's album, or ambient sounds created digitally by my brother. There is also the very limited selection of theme music in iMovie (but it's all pretty terrible... exemplified by the audio in my Youtube video above!) , but unless you don't mind paying $40 for kind of ok music from Audio Jungle or a couple of hundred dollars for a better piece on Musicbed the pickings are slim. Boo. I've also looked up sites sharing free music with no copyright and I'm here to report that it was the opposite of inspiring. I'd LOVE to hear of other options if you know of them!

What I do like about running my time lapse art video through iMovie is that I can speed up the time lapse even more and fit in detail shots and images of the finished piece at the end. This gives the viewer a better sense of resolve.


I'm going right into all the details here for the benefit of those with limited experience.

In Instagram, choose to add a new post and find your time lapse video in Library. If you don't want to crop it to square, tap the icon in the bottom left of your video to make it full size. Hit next and do your editing. I only usually use the Clarendon filter (only a touch) if my video looks like it needs brightening, but I like to show the colours as purely as possible so I don't go much for filters. If there was an option to brighten videos I would go for that. Don't worry about trim, since your video is under 60 seconds. Choose your cover shot. This is an image from the footage which will be what people will see first. Slide your finger along the frames to find an engaging and descriptive still. I like to find a frame which has my arm or hand in it, engaging with the art. 

Write your caption, sort out your hash tags, choose an optimum posting time and post away! (See my last blog on my tips for hash tags and optimum posting times)

Be sure to engage with any comments!

Watch out for my next blog which deals with Fear Smashing in Your Creative Practice - it's a meaty one!

Did I mention how much I'm enjoying writing these blogs??! And SO CHUFFED to hear your feedback... so if you feelin' somethin', or have a question or info to add please leave a comment below.

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Love ange xx

Angela Miller13 Comments