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A roll of 'I Voted' USA election stickers.

News Time-lapsing political developments

5 June 2019 Kate

With the recent three-day UK state visit from the President of the United States occupying the news agenda, we take a look at how time-lapse has been used to capture other political happenings.

The ongoing discussion about politics and its social ramifications is discussed prevalently on television, so this seems like a good a place as any to begin.

Politics Live, for instance, is a daily programme filmed at the BBC Westminster studio. Getting the space ready took a few weeks, which is recorded in this time-lapse video from the BBC.

Internal developments such as a studio fit-out gives a “behind-the-scenes” look at the news agenda and how it is brought to our screens.

Other popular televised items in the political genre include general election debates. As part of the 2017 election campaign, leaders from seven UK parties met on this stage to discuss their manifestos.

Time-lapsing political developments in outdoor space

Political leanings can cause division, with each party putting forward proposals for change based on what they think is important for the country and its people. On the flip side of this, however, one’s political beliefs can help encourage a sense of belonging; belonging to something much bigger than oneself.

The time-lapse video below demonstrates the collective force behind certain social and political movements, as protestors in London took to the streets in droves to appeal for a “People’s Vote” following the failings of recent Brexit negotiations in the UK.


Utilising outdoor space for political protest is a way of stirring up support but also a means of attracting enough attention so that the cause is given a big enough platform to reach larger numbers of people.

The development of technology in recent years has also led to more creative uses of outdoor space for political purposes, in addition to protest marches.

As this time-lapse video by Business Insider shows, the Empire State Building was used as a canvas on which to project the 2016 presidential election results. Not only does the set-up itself help to garner large audiences, the time-lapse recording means that the spectacle is a timeless reminder of such a significant time in the USA’s political history.

Mediating political figures

In addition to how political events are being mediated, there have been significant shifts in terms of how political figures are represented and perceived.

As we have explored previously, social media enables politicians to speak directly to the people, vitalising their campaign efforts and have, to some extent, more control over how they wish to stage their persona to the public.

Due to the ubiquity of news media, political struggles can come and go like a whirlwind. Although time-lapse is a photographic mode which speeds up events, it can simultaneously help to shed light on the details that can be easy to miss.


The above time-lapse video of Barack Obama through the years between 2009 and 2014 captures this aspect effectively. Using individual frames from every weekly address he delivered during his presidency tracks the physical changes that are near enough impossible to perceive of naturally.


As these examples exemplify, time-lapse sheds new light on the otherwise formulaic news media cycle that we have become accustomed to surrounding politics.

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