GoPro Time-lapse Tips

Blog - GoPro Timelapse
Blog - GoPro Timelapse

Posted: April 9 2014

Here at Xtreme Hire, we often get asked about the best way to capture time-lapse footage, so we thought we’d do a quick write-up explaining what it is, how to set up the GoPro, and how to process the footage to create something usable.

What Is Time-lapse?

Time-lapse is simply a technique whereby the film frames are captured at a much lower speed than they are played back. When the footage is played back at normal speed, time appears to be moving much more quickly. This technique is commonly used to capture subtle movements over a long period of time, such as cloud movement, or sun movement which can be played back in a short period of time.

The GoPro makes capturing time-lapse films very straight forward with its built in Time-lapse mode and we’ll go through some of the things you need to consider when capturing your time-lapse.

The Set-Up

To capture great footage, take your time when setting up the GoPro and above all, make sure the camera can’t move (unless your intention is for a panning time-lapse or dolly time-lapse). Also, ensure the battery is fully charged and if you intend to do a longer time-lapse, ensure you have adequate power.

Think carefully about the framing of your shot; the focus of the video should be on an area where things are moving. Use the GoPro app on your smartphone to frame the shot, and once everything is set up, turn off the Wi-Fi to prolong the life of the battery.

To create a more interesting shot, get the camera as high as possible looking down on the subject. A shot filmed from a rooftop will look more interesting than the same subject filmed from on the ground. This is especially important if you plan to add the Tilt-Shift effect to your footage (described later on).

If you’re shooting a landscape, try to choose a day when there are lots of broken clouds in the sky. This way you’ll see lots of movement as the clouds warp and change their shape throughout the day.

When it comes to time-lapse, scenes with lots of movement will look far superior than scenes with little or no movement. Moving cars, people, clouds, boats and planes look great when played back at high speed.

Interval Settings

The interval time should be set relative to what you’re shooting. If you want to capture fast moving objects, you’ll need to set the interval to a lower number. For scenes where there is little movement, you’ll get away with a larger interval.

Confused? Here are a few suggestions of lapses depending on the scene:

Scene Type Interval
Clouds moving very slowly: 10 seconds.
Clouds moving normally: 5 seconds.
Clouds moving very fast: 2 seconds.
People walking down the street: 2 seconds.
Path of the sun on a clear day: 30 seconds.
Night landscapes, stars, moon : 30 seconds.


Work out how long you want your movie to run for and how many photos you’ll need i.e. 250 photos lasts 10 seconds at 25 fps (frames per seconds)

Take into account the standard GoPro battery only lasts between one to two hours depending on the model, so below are some ways you can make the GoPro last longer:

• Use the Battery BacPac; this doubles the time you’ll get on a single charge, so you can expect to get about 3 hours and 20 minutes with the BacPac on.
• Use an External Power Source; use either an External Battery or plug into powersource, although pluging into a PC won’t work.This also requires the Frame Mount, so not so good if there is any chance of moisture.
• Turn off the Wi-Fi; you’ll get an extra half an hour out of the GoPro compared to when Wi-Fi is left on.

Post Production

So now you’ve got hundreds of frames, you need to know how to compile them into a movie. Depending on whether you have a PC or a mac, there are various pieces of both free and paid for software that you can use to stitch the frames together. GoPro Studio 2.0 is one of the easiest ways to create your GoPro time-lapse; you can get it from here: GoPro Studio 2.

Whatever software you use, you should now have your final product so please feel free to post a link to your video in the comment section below.

Bonus Tips:

• Add a slight zoom to add movement to the image.
• Add some music to your timelapse to make it a little more interesting.
• Add a Tilt-Shift effect in your post production software to make everything look like it’s a miniture model.

Hopefully you’re now ready to get out there and capture your own timelaspe; if you don’t have a GoPro of your own, then hire one from us and create your very own time-lapse movies..