The 10 Most Striking City Timelapses

Timelapses have become a popular and powerful means of capturing the energy and feel of cities around the world. Immersive, evocative and often beautiful – Urban Times looks at the Top 10 City Timelapses.

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This post was edited by Corin Faife


The TimeLAX projects takes us across the sprawling Greater Los Angeles area. Some of the city’s iconic landmarks including the Disney Concert Hal, the Griffith Observatory and the John Ferraro Building are interspersed throughout footage of the great city at work. The wider project will present over 200 locations across a series of videos. (Courtesy of iVideoMaking)


Made up of almost 21,000 photographs shot over eight weeks, Beno Saradzic‘s timelapse project garnered major attention following its release in 2011. The video takes a look at the large-scale transformation that the UAE capital city has witnessed across the last few decades. Saradzic’s scenes of cranes and planes at night are particularly apt in portraying the growth and energy of this powerhouse city. A resident of the UAE for more than two decades, Saradzic speaks about the power of videos such as this:

“Something like this twists people’s perceptions,” Saradzic said. “The reflections of cars speeding by on the windows of flats look like sparkling diamonds….you have to see that. To quiz that perception. We are hard-wired to see the world in a certain way, but change that point of view slightly, and you will be stunned.”


This vivid timelapse takes a journey through one of the largest cities in the world. Despite the scale of the city at hand, this project still manages to scale down to the intimate, everyday lives of citizens – from roadside shoeshines to lunch-time meetings to late-night dances, this video depicts the great diversity of the Central American city. (Courtesy of ESTEBAN ARRANGOIZ)


Samuel Orr’s New York Day uses hundreds of thousands of images to put together a picture of an average day in the Big Apple. Filmed across four trips to the city between 2011 and 2012, the video project looks to chronicle life in New York City through the flow of the everyday, from the morning commute to the evening rush home. Orr also chose to include the sounds of the city in the series to make for a  “more of an immediate experience.” (Courtesy of Motionkicker)


“From dawn in the morning at the Rialto bridge to the sunset above the Piazza San Marco, and some travels up and down the Gran Canale”, Joerg Niggli takes us through Venice in a single day. Focusing on the city’s lifeblood – its canals – the video uses water to explore the spirit of the city.


Exploring one of the world’s newest cites, this stunning video does well to capture the hustle and bustle of Dubai. The city appears as a scale model, animated by movement across the city’s waterways and public transport networks. The scale of Dubai’s impressive built environment is captured through lingering shots of some of the city’s biggest and most opulent architecture. (Courtesy of Dimid).


Rob Whitworth, an architectural photographer by trade, has created numerous arresting time lapses across various cities in South East Asia. This particular project takes Malaysia’s most populous city as its subject, with Whitworth snapping over 20,000 photographs to make us the video. The iconic Petronas Towers anchor the video as a recurring reference point, while the city’s busy streets, and glowing night scenes are explored. The creator says:

“Super-modern buildings juxtaposed with various cultural enclaves and with a little of Asia’s chaos thrown in. My time lapse explores how the city changes from day to night highlighting how spaces dramatically alter during the course of a few hours.”


Cityscape Chicago is a personal time lapse piece produced by Eric Hines using over 30,000 photographs shot between July and October in 2012. “For me, there has always been a mysterious sort of feeling to Chicago at night, so I decided to explore and capture it,” says Hines, whose photographs of the Windy City explore the city’s lake, its elevated train networks and its iconic architecture.


South Africa’s Mother City is powerfully represented in this slightly eerie and hypnotic video. The city’s well know natural landscape is explored in a manner that differs from the usual touristic representation. Cape Town’s bustling nightlife and growing CBD are also given screen time, and used to great effect in capturing the mood of the city at night. (Courtesy of Silver Bullet)


Luke Shepard, a student at The American University of Paris, offered up this beautiful trip through the City of Lights in 2010. Beginning with a wide view of the city before zooming in to explore many of the city’s iconic sites, the video works well with its accompanying score to transition between day and night in the city- perfectly captured by the changing colors of the Seine.