How to Create a Timelapse Video with Still Photos in Final Cut Pro

Final Cut Pro 17/05/2022 3 min read

Timelapse videos are a fantastic way of showing a location or action that would typically take place over hours, weeks, months, or even years. You can condense events into a few seconds, from traffic on a busy road to a flower growing in your garden, to give your audience an impressive experience. In this tutorial, we will take you step-by-step through creating a timelapse in Final Cut Pro. 

What is a Timelapse?

A timelapse is a video created by compressing the duration of an event into a much shorter time period to look like a continuous video. Timelapses can be created in two ways depending on your requirements; using photos or video footage.

Photos are the best option for anything that will take longer than a few hours simply because of the practicalities of continuously recording video. To create a timelapse using still images, the photos need to be taken at consistent intervals without moving the camera.

You should consider the movement of what you are photographing and set your intervals to suit the subject. For a sunset that quickly changes, 1 photo every 5-10 seconds is a good option, but if you want to create a timelapse of a flower growing, 1 photo every day should work.

To create a timelapse from video clips, you will need to set your camera up and hit record for the duration required. It’s super important that your camera is not disturbed or moved, as even the slightest knock will be evident in the finished video.

Part 1: Create Timelapse with Still Images in Final Cut Pro

When you create a timelapse with still images, you are using the photos to create a video sequence and commonly set at 24-29fps. If you want to use the photo method for timelapse videos, a good rule of thumb is that for every 24 images, you can create 1 second of video.

  1. Import your images into a Final Cut Pro project.
  2. Select the images for your sequence in the media browser by choosing the first and last image while holding Shift.
  3. Press E on your keyboard to add them to the timeline. Please note that the images will be added in the order they appear in the browser and should automatically be in the correct order from your camera. If your pictures are not in the right order, you may need to rename/number them.
  4. Click on the timeline to select the timeline window.
  5. Hit Cmd+A to select all of the images in the timeline.
  6. Click Ctrl+D to edit the duration.
  7. Type 1 on your keyboard and hit Enter to set the duration of each image to 1 frame.
  8. Hit Cmd+A again to select all of the images again, then press Alt+G to create a new compound clip.
  9. Enter the name of your timelapse and hit OK.
  10. Your timelapse is now one clip. You can adjust the Scale and Position of the clip, and add color grading and effects to suit your needs.

Pro Tip: Use keyframes or the Ken Burns effects to add more movement to your timelapse videos.

Part 2: Make a Cool Timelapse Effect with Videos in FCPX

You can also create timelapse videos from recorded footage, and it is super simple to do. By speeding up your clips in the edit, you remove frames from the clip, speeding up the action in your shot.

  1. Import your video clip to the timeline and trim it as needed.
  2. Hit Cmd+R to add a Retime Bar to the top of the clip.
  3. Select the small arrow next to the Retime Bar, then choose an option from the Fast menu, or click Custom to enter the new speed as a percentage.
  4. You can also drag the end of the clip at the Retime Bar to speed up the video as required.

Creating timelapse videos in Final Cut Pro is a fun and straightforward project and a fantastic place for beginners to start with clip speed editing. Now you know 2 ways of creating timelapse videos, you can impress your audience with these powerful and stunning visual techniques. If you want to learn more about adjusting the speed of your clips in Final Cut Pro, check out this handy speed ramping tutorial.