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News Why use time-lapse in TV advertising?

1 November 2017 Kate

Time-lapse is being used widely across various commercial contexts. Particularly for film & TV, significant strides have been made in recent decades with respect to how, when and where this photographic medium is applied.

When watching TV, you are likely to see advertisements that feature time-lapse in some form. As versatile a medium as this is, it is perhaps of no surprise that we are seeing many kinds of commercial products – from food to flat-pack furniture – promoted in this way.

But what exactly is it about time-lapse that companies find so appealing? With reference to a few famous examples, we provide some answers to this question.

Shaking things up

Even now, with the presence of the Internet, TV is still regarded as a key promotional platform.

But we have become so accustomed to advertising, especially while watching the TV, that it’s easy enough not to notice it, or at least not to consciously remain aware of the effects that this has on you.

With this in mind, advertisers need to remain alert about their methods and be open to new innovations in terms of how they market their products.

Time-lapse is by no means a new medium – it has been around for decades – but in terms of how things can be shown, it can create impressive visuals and provides new ways of seeing, even the most familiar of objects.

Time-lapse, then, can shake things up so that audiences are less likely to ignore what is being advertised.

Simple yet sophisticated

To capture peoples’ imagination, however, this does not necessary mean that such innovations need to be epic in scale.

For the likes of Marks & Spencer, for example, time-lapse plays a huge part in maintaining the level of simplicity that has made their televised food campaign so enticing, without the need for gimmicks and special effects.

Filming a range of foods – from veg, to roasts, hot cakes, to fizzy champagne – the adverts consist of close-up shots in front of a plain black background.

With chocolate sauce running, cheese melting over sizzling meat, potatoes roasting, and bread rising, time-lapse allows the full expression of colour, movement and texture to be captured, bringing these foods to life in full mouthwatering form.


Although it appears simple, time-lapse is carefully and expertly utilised in these adverts, which completely revolutionises how these food products are seen; not just as items sold on the shelves, but as edible delights.

Short but sweet

Rapid interval capture is perfect for this kind of short-term project, as it emphasises detail by capturing much more frequently. For this reason, time-lapse is highly suited for TV contexts.

Like any form of TV production, advertisements are incredibly time sensitive, with most only lasting for 60 seconds or less. Showcasing the passing of time in a way that is efficient for this context is made possible because of time-lapse.

In order to bring their products to life, IKEA have implemented this technique in their furniture ads, demonstrating its fit-for-purpose design, perfect for day-to-day life. With short-term rapid capture, hours can be shown in a matter of seconds, dramatically changing the way that a narrative can unfold in such a short space of time.

Impressive yet realistic narratives

For globally renowned brands, it is important to communicate your reach but at the same time, your product needs to be pitched in a way that audiences can easily identify with it.

In one of their 2013 ads, for example, Budweiser use time-lapse to feature iconic landscapes from across the world – London, New York, and Guanabara Bay – as well as the night-life associated with them. In this way, Budweiser are trying to show that their product goes hand-in-hand with good times, no matter the geographical location.

The use of time-lapse also helps to convey the speed of city life, with the slight blurriness helping to heighten the intensity and excitement of this hustle and bustle, giving the video an impressive visual edge.

Although these are only a handful of examples, they show how time-lapse holds the key to unlocking the true potential of TV advertising, especially in the current moment which is defined by an explosion of digital media.

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Time-Lapse Systems are a part of Hideaway Media Ltd (est. 2007). World leader in the provision of bespoke time-lapse capture and site monitoring solutions. UK and Worldwide.