Timelapse videos provide for some pretty amazing online viewing — but what exactly are they?

These fascinating videos are created by capturing motion with an intentionally lower frame rate than that of video, then playing the footage back at normal video speed. The technique allows us to trace motion that is normally imperceptible, like stars moving across the sky or melting snow, and view it as an expedited process.

The results are truly visually inspiring. This is why it’s also a great way to test out new photographic techniques, like high dynamic range, or super-shallow, constantly changing tilt shift focus.

The grandfather of the genre is Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi, which has no conventional plot but rather centers on the slowing down and speeding up of natural elements like ocean waves, clouds and the moon. The images are accompanied by the haunting compositions of Philip Glass.

Aside from shining a light on the film technique, Koyaanisqatsi also demonstrated the importance of soundtrack for a successful timelapse video. After all, who wants to watch grass grow without an epic score behind it?

Check out the full videos from above, in order of appearance:

What’s your favorite timelapse video? Let us know in the comments.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/08/02/timelapse-videos-how-are-they-made-video/

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