This is How Instagram’s Hyperlapse App Creates Such Silky Smooth Footage


Instagram only just released Hyperlapse earlier this week, and already it’s amassed a cult-like following thanks to its dead-simple interface and amazing results.

But, as simple as the interface may be and as impressive as the results are, what happens between when the app is opened and the final hyperlapse actually involves a lot of incredibly technology at work.

That tech, and how it achieves such smooth results, is explained in detail over on Instagram’s engineering blog. And while we’ll leave the nitty gritty details to them, the basic mechanism is pretty fascinating.

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 2.28.20 PM

Basically, the tech is an extension of Instagram’s digital video stabilization, which uses the phone’s gyroscope to measure and eliminate hand shake by cropping a stable frame out of the center of your video and keeping that frame steady while the rest of the video shakes along with your hand.

Adjusting this to Hyperlapse was simply a case of only applying the stabilization to the frames Instagram was using. 6x speed, explains the blog, involves using only every 6th frame in the video and playing them at 30fps. Stabilizing that final video is just a matter of only cropping/stabilizing every 6th frame.

This turns ultra-shaky sped up video into super smooth hyperlapse footage like you see below:

And Instagram doesn’t stop there, they also use something called ‘adaptive zoom’ to make their digital stabilization as efficient as possible. Essentially, they crop only as much as is needed.

If the video has little to no shake, the amount of resolution lost is miniscule. If you’re shaking like you just saw a Great White like this one, the area cropped will be much smaller, trading more resolution to ensure the same level of stability.

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 2.28.10 PM

Either way, the final product is extremely smooth hyperlapse footage, captured handheld at the press of a button… it’s pretty amazing what happens between that button press and the final product though.

To learn more and see a bunch of video examples of these stabilization techniques in action, check out the link below and get your nerd on. And don’t forget to drop links to your favorite Instagram hyperlapses in the comments down below.

The Technology behind Hyperlapse from Instagram [Instagram Engineering Blog]

  • Max Pinton

    Makes sense. Microsoft’s version produces smoother results because it actually interpolates missing image data from other frames, though it’s not perfect. I noticed some artifacts in the rock climbing hyperlapse they demoed.

    Another option when throwing away 5 out of 6 frames is if the 6th frame is blurry, couldn’t they use the 5th or 7th frame?

  • Andrei (

    I wait to release on Android.

  • Mauricio Matos

    And that’s why the final video is 720P only. It’s a shame though. Good enough for most users for sure but not that great to mix with other 1080P footage.

  • D.G. Brown

    I would *love* to see this working with the 4K video from the Note 3 :)

  • kotaro_14

    Digital stabilization? That’s what my Z2 does, nothing new.

  • hdc77494

    I just want to know when they’re going to make it a PS or Premiere Pro pug in so I can use it with my Canon. It’s way to good to leave to phone shooters.

  • Alejo Iglesias Duran

    u can use the warp stabilization on after effects

  • Doc Pixel

    “Gyroscopes are relatively new on Android devices and are usually only
    equipped on device manufacturers “flagship” phones/tablets. So, unless
    you have recently purchased one of the more high-end devices available,
    the chances are that your device does *not* have a gyroscope.”

    The above is a quote from the Play Store app Gyroscope Explorer… Google it and “android phones with a good gyroscope 2013″ to see the problems associated with building apps on Android that utilize the gyroscope.

    You may be waiting awhile.

  • @JacksonCheese

    Silky smooth my ass.

  • Genkakuzai

    Works like a charm really. Only used it a few times, but I’m loving it.