What's The Difference Between A Timelapse And Hyperlapse?

There's been some confusion about what a 'hyperlapse' is—and one seasoned video veteran has cleared things up.

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Aug 12 2014, 8:50pm

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This is a hyperlapse. It was created by Geoff Tompkinson, who has been stitching together similar dynamic lapses for the past two years, long before 'hyperlapse' became an Internet buzzword. His Moving Through series has collected beautiful vignettes from all over the world, including videos at the HermitageSt. Petersburg, and New York City. It's clear when watching the films that these aren't your grandmother's timelapses, but what exactly is it that separates them from the norm?

According to Tompkinson's blog, in a timelapse, "the action in a scene is speeded-up and the camera is either static or moving very short distances." 'Short distances' means a steady pan or tilt is allowed—maybe even a brief dolly—but these movements are under the control of a motorized rig, usually only capable of subtle movements.

A hyperlapse, on the other hand, has no such limitations: "It enables the camera to be moved over considerable distances," Tompkinson says. "This movement can occur across relatively uneven terrain, can pass without disturbance through crowded situations, and allows for fully controlled complex motion paths and camera angle changes."

In other words, a hyperlapse is just like a timelapse, but with a broader range of motion. By this definition, the flow-motion timelapses from videographer Rob Whitworth—another master who's been in the timelapse game for a minute—fall under the umbrella of the hyperlapse, whereas the 83-second Tokyo-San Franscisco flight is a timelapse, since the camera itself remains stationary throughout the video.

Over the weekend, a group of researchers attempted to coin the term 'hyperlapse' as an algorithmically smoothed out first-person timelapse, which they demonstrated in a video. However, this is a bit narrower than Tompkinson's existing definition.

According to the researchers, Tompkinson's body of hyperlapses are improperly labeled, whereas under Tompkinson's definition, everybody goes home happy. We're sure it'll be a while before the digital dust settles and the whole Internet agrees on a single definition of hyperlapse. In the meantime, here are a couple examples to help you keep the difference between timelapses and hyperlapses in check.

Timelapse

Hyperlapse

h/t Kuriositas

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