The Inner-workings of Hyperlapse by Instagram

Last week, Instagram came out with their newest app called “Hyperlapse,” a tool allowing anyone to create and share time lapse videos with their iPhone or iPad. The app is already at the top of the iTunes app store charts, and it’s easy to see why. With a single click of a button, Hyperlapse users can shoot footage that, before, was thought only possible through professional-and expensive-photography equipment. Hyperlapse has released time lapse technology to the masses. People are taking it to the cities, the skies, and down lonely country roads.

Hyperlapse captures the minuscule,

Creating with #hyperlapse is going to be a lot of fun. Well played @instagram #ants

A post shared by Jake Hiller (@jmayerhiller) on

the ‘in motion,’

the remote,

and the heartbeat of a city. 

So, how does it all work? Anyone watching a Hyperlapse video can see that the technology doesn’t just “speed up” the video, but also smooths out the motion.

Instagram released a post on the Instagram Engineering Blog entitled “The Technology behind Hyperlapse from Instagram.” The post explains how, “time lapses are mesmerizing to watch because they reveal patterns and motions in our daily lives that are otherwise invisible.”

Instagram engineers implemented a specific video stabilization algorithm called ‘Cinema’ and combined this algorithm with other design strategies to create a cleaner and more simplified user experience.

“Cinema… uses the phone’s built-in gyroscope to measure and remove unwanted hand shake…we feed gyroscope samples and frames into the stabilizer and obtain a new set of camera orientations as output. These camera orientations correspond to a smooth ‘synthetic’ camera motion with all the unwanted kinks and bumps removed.”

Besides the inner workings of the algorithm, Cinema also achieves fluidity by slightly manipulating the video’s frames to eliminate the most obvious camera shakes. See this strategy demonstrated below:

“The region inside the white outline is the visible area in the output video. Notice that the edges of the warped frames never cross the white outline. That’s because our stabilization algorithm computes the smoothest camera motion possible while also ensuring that a frame is never changed such that regions outside the frame become visible in the final video.”

Read the full blog post here.