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Aerial photography looking down on the city streets of Hong Kong.

News Time-Lapse Trends: aerial perspectives

1 October 2019 Kate

“Time-Lapse Trends” is a video blog series which draws attention to some of the many exciting trends in time-lapse production. We feature a new trend in each instalment, to demonstrate the scope of the medium and the various ways in which it is applied, ranging from the popular to the more obscure.

In this latest instalment of “Time-Lapse Trends”, we showcase various examples – including some of our own  work – using aerial time-lapse and photography.

As a leading professional time-lapse company, we know all too well the importance of a secure heightened vantage point overlooking the projects we capture.

Especially in the construction sector, where we are commissioned to capture builds of considerable size and scale, the positioning of the camera system needs to encompass and help reflect the entirety of the works in question.

Plus, as technology develops – with the likes of drones reaching new heights every year – more can be achieved than ever before when practicing aerial photography.

A bird’s-eye view

Photographer’s like Jamie Brightmore, for example, are coming up with their own creative techniques using drones, cameras and time-lapse photography.

In this video (below), he samples his “bird’s-eye aerial time-lapse cinematography technique”, which he calls “satlapse”.


Brightmore has been experimenting with photography from heights of about 400 feet off the ground; with the camera pointing straight down, it almost appears as if the shots were taken from a satellite – hence the term “satlapse”.

What makes this so special is the fact that this technique plays with time-lapse in its purest form: the footage is made up of individual frames captured from a drone which hovers in a stationary position for several minutes.

Mention of aerial techniques often implies subjects of a grand scale made to look even grander but even the simplest of subjects can be effective when shown from above.

This time-lapse video by Jason Fooks documents an open-air movie night at Bryant Park in Manhattan, New York. After a slow start, the lawn suddenly bursts into colour as the crowds start to set-up their pitches on the grass. Time-lapse picks up on the incremental movements of this small mass of people, making the multi-coloured range of blankets laid out in turn look like the creation of a massive patchwork quilt.

As well as entertaining, these kind of edits can also be informative. Take this aerial time-lapse of a parking lot at Woburn Mall, Massachusetts: the straight-down perspective coupled with the compression of time granted by time-lapse gives an accurate account of traffic flow going in and out of the busy Mall.

Aerial techniques & other tools

As we have seen from the above examples, aerial time-lapse sequences are stunning to watch. The beauty of seeing things from extreme heights can reveal perspectives on things that would not otherwise be visible.

In combination with other techniques as well, aerial views can be manipulated into even more unique sequences.

“Hello Helsinki” from LittleBigWorld is an extraordinary narrative of Finland’s capital and largest city, created using time-lapse and tilt-shift.

Journeying through some of the city’s famous locations, these are explored via sweeping camera movements and shifting the orientation of focus further emphasises the scale and grandeur of the city and its everyday movement.

We have written about the affects of this combination here before; time-lapse does not necessarily need any added extras in order to create visually engaging material but tilt-shift can help create enchanting depictions of urban life, especially from above.

Alongside our own time-lapse work across Central London, we have utilised construction aerial photography for numerous clients in the capital. For instance, we produced this (below) interactive 360° aerial tour showing the Nine Elms area of the city.

[pano file=”https://www.time-lapse-systems.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/panoramas/battersea_aerial_360/index.html”]

Using the control pad, you can visualise the City of London in both macro and micro detail and see its transformation at a particular point in history from multiple directions; as if you are flying over it.


As this small number of examples show, aerial techniques and time-lapse photography go hand-in-hand and can fulfil a variety of different functions. Whether opting for simplicity or something more creative, aerial time-lapse is an exciting combination.

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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.