Time lapse photography can create some pretty impressive visuals. I think we mostly see time-lapse photography in non-fictional works about nature, plants, or the stars. But sometimes it's used in horror (decay), science fiction, or simply to show the audience that time is passing quickly as an alternative to a montage. A filmmaker might show a day passing really quickly to give a vague sense of anxiety. Or a vampire/horror flick might show the rapid change of day into night to signal impending doom.

time lapse vs the projector

That makes me wonder, what is the longest known period over which time-lapsed filming has been performed?

I'm just curious because its difficult for humans to totally predict the visual effects of the passage of massive amounts of time. What does the longest known segment of time-lapse look like?

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    Are you asking about the longest timelapse in general, or the longest that has ended up in some bigger production?
    – vidarlo
    Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 9:25
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    There's a tonne of 18 year long non-professional 'growing up' time lapses on youtube youtube.com/… , and some parts of the 59-year long Up series has time lapse aspects, e.g. youtu.be/VVQ96wfbf_0?t=92 but I don't recall them being edited into a traditional time lapse of the same person in the program itself. Would either of these count for an answer, or are you limiting it to the same camera in the same position for the whole period? Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 11:15
  • @vidarlo - I'm not sure what the boundaries of this stack site is, but longest known time lapse would be prefered if possible. The longest major film time lapse is also interesting, so I wouldn't be opposed to that appearing in an answer. But I'm more interested in the longest passage of time every recorded in time-lapse. Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 14:02
  • @PeteKirkham - Interesting questions, I guess I was thinking of traditional time lapse. I guess I don't care if its the same camera as long it appears from to be from the same position. Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 14:06
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    I'm going to put this as a comment because it's not really "time lapse photography", but there is a photo blend used in the Led Zeppelin concert film The Song Remains The Same where Jimmy Page is shown aging from a baby to an old man, so as to "lapse" about 80 or so years. Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 20:51

1 Answer 1


While it isn't an epic long film, there is a 16 second video on youtube that documents the changes in the skyline of Shijnuku (One of the wards of Tokyo, Japan) over a 35 year period. The video itself is basically stitched together photographs over a period of 35 years from the same spot.

The longest capture from space documents two orbits of the ISS around the earth, which equates to 180 minutes, done in 21,375 images that are condensed into a 15 (ish) minute video.

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