Instagram explains the cool tech behind new Hyperlapse app



Yesterday Instagram released Hyperlapse, its new app for making time lapse videos. The obvious benefit of time lapsing footage is that you can cram more into a 15-second clip, but the videos also end up looking really cool.

Hyperlapse takes the time lapse concept to the next level by encouraging you to move around while you shoot. That ends up opening the doors for all kinds of creative shots. You’d normally have to pay thousands of dollars for video gear to make the HD footage Hyperlapse can, but now anyone can do it with an iPhone for free.

The engineers at Instagram have shared what went into making the app. Here are a few takeaways:

  • The iPhone’s built-in gyroscope is how Hyperlapse can stabilize video to make it watchable when sped up.
  • Instagram’s stabilization algorithm, called Cinema, also zooms in slightly on the image to reduce blur from holding the phone in your hand. It intelligently knows how much to zoom in based on how shaky you are.
  • “A time lapse level of 6x corresponds to picking every 6th frame in the input video and playing those frames back at 30 fps. The result is a video that is 6 times faster than the original.”
  • An insane amount of calculation is done every time you adjust the main slider on a clip, but Instagram found a way to make it happen “without interrupting video playback or stalling the UI.”

You can read more, including the geeky video details, on Instagram’s blog post.

For a more design-oriented explanation of Hyperlapse, Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger answered some questions on Product Hunt yesterday.

When asked why Hyperlapse exists as a standalone app when it’s so simple, Krieger explained, “We wanted to keep the capture experience super-simple, which is hard inside IG where photos & non-hyperlapse video sharing are already present. The goal here was standalone so you can open straight to camera, jump in and start recording without missing a moment.”