The word “time lapse” is not new to the English Language. However, the term, “Time-lapse” as a means of digital and mobile storytelling is a new and innovative idea.
Time-lapse is a video format where the recording device is left in one spot over a typically longer period of time. The device captures the scene– whether it be a setting sun or a building being built. Once the activity is over and the device has stopped recording, you play back your time-lapse video and are able to watch the whole scene, which could have been several hours or days long, in just a few seconds or minutes.
Since becoming such a popular means of digital storytelling, Time-lapse videos can be recorded on popular hand-held devices like iPhones, iPods and Androids.
How is Time-lapse a device for storytelling? Time-lapse is a storytelling method mostly used to show a story that covers a longer period of time. For example, Saturday Night Live posted a video to their YouTube page of their entire taping session, that has been condensed to two minutes using time-lapse.
NPR has begun to use time-lapse videos to add to, and overall enhance their stories.
One example of how NPR does this is when they posted a story regarding smog that took over the skies in Beijing. NPR begins their headline for this piece with “WATCH”, to emphasize that this story has visual content.
Within the story, NPR attaches a clip of a time-lapse. The video, that is only 13 seconds long, shows 20 minutes of smog devouring the city. NPR posts this time-lapse through an extension of Twitter. The video actually comes from a Twitter uses who captured the video in Beijing. While NPR uses this time-lapse to enhance their own story, by posting the video through Twitter, they are giving full credit to the owner of the time-lapse.
Time-lapse as an alternative storytelling method has introduced a revolutionary way to tell long stories in short-form. In this generation, consumers of news and stories have shortening attention spans, only allowing minimal time before losing interest. Time-lapse videos provides a visual, and quick method of storytelling for today’s generation of news consumers.