Time-lapse movies can speed up slow-moving action and compress hours, days, and even months into seconds and minutes. Now, thanks to a new crop of cameras, apps and accessories, anyone can create a time-lapse movie.

Pick your tools any digital cameras include a time-lapse mode that shoots images over a certain length of time, and then collects them into a video file. You choose the amount of wait time between each image and the duration of the overall shoot.

To make a test movie of a dehydrated plant coming back to life, we used the Nikon Coolpix P90’s time-lapse settings. If your camera doesn’t have a self-timer, you can use an external intervalometer – a tool that triggers the shutter on a schedule. If you have a compatible camera, the £11.99 onOne DSLR Camera Remote iPhone app (www.ononesoftware.com/iphone) has this setting.

You can use your iPhone’s built-in camera to create a time-lapse movie. Try a timer app such as iTimeLapse Pro (£1.79, www.timelapse-iphone.com) or Joby’s free Gorillacam app (www.joby.com/gorillacam). Don’t have an iPhone? Use the free application Gawker (www.gawker.sourceforge.net) to create a time-lapse movie with your webcam.

Do your sums  Most time-lapse movies play 24 to 30 frames per second (fps). The ideal wait time between frames depends on the speed of the subject and the desired final movie length. To help work it out, download Timelapse Calculator (£2.99, www.clamcamvideo.com/timelapse_calc.html). Fill in the information – event duration, fps, or clip length – and the app figures out the rest.

Get the setup right o create a feeling of movement, experiment with longer exposure times – a small amount of blur in an image can minimise jarring transitions between frames. Set all of your camera settings to manual (including the focus), mount your camera on a tripod, and begin. 

If your camera can’t create a time-lapse movie, use QuickTime Pro (QuickTime X doesn’t have this feature though) or try iStopMotion2 ($49 [£31.80], www.boinx.com/istopmotion).