This is very common scene in movies and TV shows where a character is shown standing stationary but all other characters' movement is shown in kinda fast forward mode. And these characters are moving around that stationary character.


  1. What is this technique called? (if at all there is one)
  2. How is this effect achieved? Two possibilities I can think of:
    • Actually shoot the complete scene normally and then use a time-lapse (or a similar) technique.
    • Just shoot the central guy and add all others characters separately using graphics software

Please add any interesting/technical details (from purely learning point of view) if you think they can be helpful.

An example scene to supplement the question:

Another example (WARNING: Some NSFW content!):

P.S. I am tempted to add the question "When was this technique first used in Movie or on TV?" But I am afraid that might not be acceptable. Moderators, please guide.

  • 2
    Your further question might very well be acceptable, especially if you take a look into the first-appearance tag. But I would still advise you to make it a separate question to not diluge matters in the answers to this question. Otherwise some people will list examples without any explanations and some people will explain the whole technique without providing the first appearance, which makes the answers into a mess.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Sep 19, 2016 at 11:54
  • 1
    Alternatively you could also just leave it in as somewhat of a side question, without laying emphasis on it, and see if the answers to this question maybe already provide where it was first used. You can then decide if you still need to ask the further question in a more specific way, if that hasn't been covered sufficiently already. But if anything, I would definitely place emphasis on the explanation part in this question in order to get satisfying answers.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Sep 19, 2016 at 11:59
  • Yeah. Your first suggestion makes much more sense. I would like to completely avoid such mess. So will go with a new question once this one is appropriately answered. Thanks for quick reply.
    – Ravindra S
    Sep 19, 2016 at 12:01

1 Answer 1


I don't know how this technique is called but you find a lot of information using keywords like standing still time-lapse or static time-lapse.

Both of your ideas are possible!

  • Sometimes the actor stands very still and they speed the whole video up
  • Sometimes they film the actor in front of a green screen and add the time-lapse video to the background (I think this was done in your Scrubs example)

In addition there are some other possibilities...

  • The actor could act (breath/move/blink) in slow-motion, everybody else acts normal, speed up the footage.
  • They mask the actor out of the original footage and only speed up the background

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