NPR uses Time-lapse to tell a story

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.

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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.

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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.


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