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GoPro Time Lapse Guide: Settings, Gear and Tutorials

Ready to start shooting GoPro time lapse videos? In this guide, you’ll learn the settings and gear you need to create your own. This guide includes a set of 5 detailed GoPro time lapse tutorials.

shooting gopro timelapse

GoPro Time Lapse Guide

Sure, GoPro cameras are great for action sports. But they also make some incredible time lapse videos.

In this guide, you’ll learn about the settings and gear to consider when shooting your own GoPro time lapse. And we end off the guide with 5 details tutorials.

Know what you’re looking for? Just to that section with these links:

  1. GoPro Time Lapse Settings
  2. Gear for GoPro Time Lapse and a detailed gear list
  3. 5 GoPro Time Lapse Tutorials

What is a time-lapse video?

A time lapse video is a series of photos shot over a period of time.

The images are then combined into a video and it gives the appearance of time being sped up. It is great for showing a busy market, sunrises, sunsets, blooming flowers, etc.

gopro time lapse settings


1. GoPro Time Lapse Settings

Here’s an overview of the settings and considerations for setting up your GoPro time lapse shoot. For a full breakdown of the settings, check out the set of time lapse tutorials below.

Before you can decide on your settings, you’ll need to decide on what your final product will be. How long do you want your video to be? How much action do you want to capture?

  • 10 Seconds: To create a 10 second time lapse video, you’ll have to shoot for 5 minutes (1 image per second) or 25 minutes (1 image every 5 seconds) if you play back the images at a standard 30 frames per second (fps).
  • 30 Seconds: To create a 30 second time lapse video, you’ll have to shoot for 15 minutes (1 image per second) or 75 minutes (1 image every 5 seconds) if you play back the images at a standard 30 frames per second (fps).

GoPro Time Lapse Settings

Here are the settings you should consider when shooting a GoPro time lapse:

  • Resolution: (7MP WIDE) For the Hero4 Black, I recommend shooting at 7MP W(ide). If you don’t require a wide angle, the 5MP M setting will be perfect. What size video will you create with these still photos? While you can shoot your images at the highest resolution, there is limited benefits do this. What size photo do you need to shoot a 4K time lapse? 4K resolution (3840 x 2160) is just an 8.3-megapixel image. Even if you shoot 5-megapixel still images, this will allow you to render a 2.7K time lapse video (2.7K video resolution is 2704 x 1520 or 4.1-megapixel stills). Remember: higher resolution images mean larger files.
  • Shooting intervals: (1 image every 2 seconds) Interval options range from one image from every 0.5 second up to every 60 seconds. For most situations, you’ll find that an interval of 2 seconds will work well. Reduce the interval (0.5 or 1 second) and your video will slow down. Increase the interval (5 to 60 seconds) and your time will pass faster (if you render at the same rate).
  • Shooting length: (From 10 to 20 minutes) This depends on your shooting interval and what you’re shooting. You’ll want enough time to pass to ensure that you capture some action. A busy street will require less time than slow moving clouds. You should place the camera for at least 10 minutes if you’re using an interval of 2-seconds. This will create a 10-second video clip – perfect for scenes with lots of action (traffic, people). I usually shoot sunsets for 1-hour or more. The sun moves slowly and you need a longer shooting length to show the movement.
  • Protune: Protune is a set of features that enhance your footage. Shooting in Protune is an advanced setting and isn’t required. Learn more about shooting in Protune flat.

gopro sunset timelapse


2. Gear for GoPro Time Lapse

Aside from the camera and the correct settings (see above) you don’t need much gear to shoot a great time lapse video with your GoPro.

But there are some things that will make it easier. Here’s what you should consider:

  1. Stable Mount: Without a tripod, your images will not blend properly into a watchable video.
  2. Large memory card: Even if you shoot at 5 or 7MP, the card can fill up quickly. Choose the largest card you can afford – and that your camera will accept.
  3. Batteries: If you want to shoot longer than one hour, you’ll want extra batteries.
  4. Rotating mount: This will give a sweeping motion to your time lapse video.

Stable GoPro Mounts

There are a number of mounts that will do this. And the best mount for your shoot will depend on where you’re shooting.

  1. UltraClamp Mount: This is one of my favorite mounts. It attaches to benches, doors and sign posts. Read my UltraClamp review.
  2. GorillaPod: I bought my first GorillaPod with my first dSLR about 10-years ago – and I’m still using it. They are expensive and they are worth it. I now own three different sizes – the newest one has a level and a ball head for fast leveling.
  3. Suction Cup Mount: This is best for driving time lapse videos. I created a dozen videos of Cuenca, Ecuador while driving around the city in my truck.

Large (and fast) memory card

Even if you shoot at 5 or 7MP, the card can fill up quickly. GoPro cameras all use microSD cards. Here’s what we use in all our cameras:

  1. SanDisk Extreme (32, 64, 128GB): While you can access the photos via USB cable, I usually remove the microSD card and copy the footage via a card reader and the included SD card adapter.

Although you can get microSD cards up to 256GB, GoPro cameras will only accept up to 128GB.

GoPro Batteries

  1. Internal GoPro Batteries: I like to travel with a handful of charged batteries. If you shoot a time lapse that lasts longer than an hour, you’ll need to change your batteries. Because Hero5 is still brand new, there aren’t many aftermarket options for batteries. This should change in the coming months.
  2. Powerbank: For extended time lapse shoots, you might consider direct connecting a power-bank directly to your camera. I’ve done this a few times and it is amazing.
  3. GoPro Session (Hero4 and Hero5) don’t have a removable battery pack.

Rotating mounts

There are two ways to do this: Camalapse or DIY.

  1. DIY Rotating Mount: With a kitchen timer and an adhesive mount you can make your own rotating time-lapse.
  2. Camalapse: If you’re like me, you like the sounds of DIY but it takes time. For a few bucks more, you can buy a mount that is make just for this purpose. This is the mount that we own. I’ll be publishing footage from it soon.

3. GoPro Time Lapse Tutorials

This set of tutorial share everything I’ve learned so far about shooting GoPro time lapse videos.


How to Create a GoPro Sunset Timelapse

This was my very first time lapse video – and it’s still my favorite.

Read the full post with all the settings.

How to Create a GoPro Sunset Time Lapse

In this post, you’ll learn how to create a GoPro sunset time lapse video. Last year, I published the settings for a GoPro time lapse video shot in the Galapagos Islands.

Read the full tutorial: How to create a GoPro sunset time lapse


How to Shoot a GoPro Driving Time Lapse

In this post, I share the five steps to shoot your driving time lapse and the four settings to create your driving time lapse.

But first, here’s the finished product:


How to Create a Cloud Timelapse Video (Ecuador)

In this section, I’ll share the specific settings I used to create a cloud timelapse video in Ecuador’s Andes mountains.

Check out the tutorial below.

But first, here’s the final product:

This was shot from our apartment in Santa Isabel, Yunguilla Valley (located 90 minutes from the city of Cuenca).

When I shot this, we were making plans to return to Canada. And we didn’t want to forget what our back deck view had been for three years.

But first, here is the final product:

Settings to Create a Cloud Timelapse Video

Here are the settings I used to shoot this cloud timelapse.

  • Shot 1 image every 5 seconds with my GoPro Hero3 Silver
  • Resolution: 11 MP
  • 3744 Images / 16.4 GB
  • Length of shoot: Just over 5 hours
  • Shoot Date: February 1, 2015
  • Location: Yunguilla Valley, Ecuador. Located 90 minutes from the city of Cuenca
  • Edited with: GoPro Studio (free software by GoPro)
  • Camera mount: This was one of my more bizarre ones. I mounted the GoPro on the end of a three-foot extend pole and then mounted that to a full-size tripod (see image below). Since the camera has such a wide-angle view, and I was shooting from my back deck, I wanted to put the camera past those distracting elements and capture just the cloud movement. Not only did that not work, but the wind also moved the camera and affected the image quality. Live and learn…

See post-production details below the image.

create cloud timelapse ecuador

Post Production: Create a Cloud Time Lapse

The first thing I did was delete the spoiled frames from battery changes and distracting elements.

Inside of GoPro Studio, I imported all the images and created a video at 48 fps. When I played this back, it was too boring. The clouds didn’t seem to move fast enough. I then boosted the playback rate by 50% (the software shows it at 150%) which created an effective 72fps.

Since I was shooting 12 images/ minute, this means that each hour of cloud movement was reduced to 10 seconds of video.

While GoPro Studio is no longer available, there are still lots of great GoPro video editors to choose from.

What I Learned From This Project

I learned two lessons from this cloud timelapse project:

  1. The biggest flaw with this time-lapse is that the camera wasn’t steady. As mentioned above, I had the GoPro on the end of a 3′ extend pole that was mounted on a full-size tripod. The wind easily moved the camera, causing a shake and some distracting movement.
  2. For longer shoots, I can shoot fewer images and then reduce the playback frame rate. The final product will be the same and I’ll need fewer images. For example, for my next cloud time-lapse, I think I’ll try shooting a frame rate of 1 image/ 10 seconds (6/min) with a rendering frame rate of 30fps.

For context, here is a still shot of the valley.

yunguilla valley timelapse

I’m pretty happy to have this video. We watched this cloud activity every day for three years – and now we’ll never forget what it looked like.


Create GoPro Tide Timelapse Video (Bay of Fundy)

Learn how to shoot a tide timelapse video with your GoPro camera. This video was shot in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

Check out the tutorial below.

But first, here’s the final product:

GoPro Tide Time Lapse

A few weeks ago, we happened upon low tide in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. The small basin in front of Waterfront Park was completely empty. It looked like a giant, empty mud puddle.

We set up the GoPro and started shooting. Over the next 80 minutes, the basin completely filled with the tidal waters of the Bay of Fundy.

In the following video, I explain the whole process. Below the video, I share all the specs and settings used in this shoot.

How to Create a GoPro Tide Time Lapse Video

How I Created This GoPro Tide Time Lapse

I setup the camera on the UltraPod mount. It is stable and low to the ground.

As you can see in the following images, I have the camera in an open (non-waterproof) mount. With this mount, I can connect an external power source. I did this because the battery wasn’t 100% – and I didn’t know how long it would take to fill the basin.

In the end, it didn’t matter. My Wasabi battery lasted the full 81 minutes and still had charge left.

gopro tide timelapse mount

gopro timelapse mount

Settings Used to Create the GoPro Tide Time Lapse

  1. Camera settings: 1 image every 2 seconds (30 images / minute) at 7MP resolution.
  2. Total shoot time: 81 minutes. Total of 2430 still images.
  3. Location: Reservoir Park, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada. Shot in front of the gazebo.
  4. Gear Used: GoPro Hero4 Black camera, Pedco UltraPod II tripod, Wasabi battery.
  5. To render the video, I used GoPro Studio. In GoPro Studio, I rendered the video at 2 speeds. The fast speed was rendered at 150 frames per second (fps) and the slower speed at 60 fps.

What I Learned From This Shoot

Overall, I’m happy with the final product. Here’s what I learned from this time lapse shoot:

  1. I can reduce the time lapse interval for shooting slow moving clouds and water. For my next shoot, I’ll use 5 frames per second.
  2. I think it would have been more dramatic to mount the camera higher and angled down. The camera was setup just a couple of meters above high-water mark, making the water appear to be almost on the same level. If I had mounted it higher, I could have cut out more sky and shown the dramatic rise in water level.
  3. The music I chose was too short. At 0:59 in the final video, the music stopped and then restarted. It felt like the video must be over, but it had another 13 seconds to go. I should have either chose the correct length or blended the two clips together better. (Update Nov. 12, 2015: To fix the weird music edit, I just replaced my audio track with one on YouTube – without having to render and upload a new video. Such a time saver!)

To give some context to the shoot, here are a couple images from the park in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

reservoir park wolfville

View to the right of our shoot location

wolfville nova scotia

View to the left of where the time lapse was shot

 

Your Turn

What is your favorite setting or mount for shooting time lapse video? What’s your question about creating a GoPro time lapse video?

Pandu Aji

Thursday 13th of June 2019

Hi, I am using Go Pro Hero 4 SE. I can't found resolution settings on video lapse menu, but i only can use it on timelapse menu.

Jeff

Monday 13th of May 2019

I’ve been asked to shoot a time lapse video of a stage being built (8 hrs) with a GoPro camera... I don’t know what model GoPro I’m using yet ... for an 8 hrs time lapse video what settings should I use ? Power? Card? Thank you

Bryan Haines

Tuesday 14th of May 2019

You'll want to power the camera with a powerbank or direct connect to a laptop. The in-camera battery won't last much more than 1 hour each.

For memory card, larger is usually better. The minimum size needed depends on many factors - shooting resolution, interval, etc. Without knowing your objective of the time lapse, it's hard to know the best settings.

Randy

Wednesday 10th of April 2019

Shooting a house construction over the course of the day using two Hero 3s. Probably no power available, so will need a power bank I assume. Recommendation on card size to shoot over the course of a day? Any other suggestions? Thanks.