GoPro Timelapse Basics


Timelapse is a photography technique used to make motion movie footage using a stills camera. Movie cameras shoot 24 frames per second. If you take a sills camera and shoot at 1 frame per second, then put all the photos in a row and play them back at 24 frames per second, you’ll have a time lapse shot that has effective sped up time to 24 times normal speed.

1 . Plan.

– you don’t want 1000 poorly framed and poorly exposed images. Even the most magnificent setting can look awful if you don’t take the time to frame it up. Also use the rule of thirds – an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections. Proponents of the technique claim that aligning a subject with these points creates more tension, energy and interest in the composition than simply centering the subject.

2. Tripod is your best friend.

You don’t need anything expensive but make shure it is stable and fixed. The slightest shake or rolling caused by the wind during the shots, will end up in a shaken take.

3. Use a huge memory card and pick your resolution carefully.

The default is 12 megapixel, which become ~6mb images for every shot. There are also 7 megapixel and 5 megapixel options. 1080p video barely requires 1 megapixel images so you can go down in quality to get smaller photo file sizes.

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4. Shoot intervals.

Most movies show around 20-30 frames per second; the more frames per second, generally the smoother the movie will play back. We also need to ask how long we want the final movie to be. If you aim at 30 seconds clip at 24 fps then you need 720 frames. 24 fps times 30 seconds = 720 frames. If you are planing to spend 4 hours shooting (or 14,400 seconds), for a 30 seconds clip with 24 fps, you need to set the interval at 20 seconds. 14,400 seconds (length of actual event) divided by 720 frames (frames needed for final movie) = 20-second intervals between shots/frames. Of course you can choose different fps, such as 15. It is up to you to experiment.

Here are a few suggestions of lapses depending on the scene. Clouds moving very slowly, interval of 10 seconds. Clouds moving normally: interval of 5 seconds. Clouds moving very fast: interval of 3 seconds. People walking down the street: interval of 2 seconds. Path of the sun on a clear day, nterval of 30 seconds. Night landscapes, stars, moon, etc.: nterval of 20 to 30 seconds.

5. Not every image is going to be good.

Don’t worry about it. When you sit down to create your video, you can quickly scroll through the images and delete any that have an extra object.

6. Edit.

Use GoPro Studio or your favourite software to finish your timelapse.


Use 7MP wide or med for a smaller file size and better processing speed. Alternately, use 12MP wide for more room to pan within the frames. 7MP is shown below.

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* Time-lapse during Day (city, traffic, events, day)
* 7MP, 2 sec. interval. Protune on. Set a color temperature if possible.
* 7MP, 1 sec. interval. Same as above but smoother and slower time-lapse with less time compression. Protune on. Set a color temperature if possible.
* Time-lapse at Night (stars, sky, night)
* 7MP, 5 sec. interval. Protune off.
* 7MP, 10 sec. interval. Same as above but for longer shooting times and faster time-lapse with more time compression. Protune off.
* Time-lapse at Dusk or Dawn (day and night transitions, sunrises, sunsets, dusk)
* 7MP, 2 sec. interval. Protune on. Auto white balance.
* 7MP, 5 sec. interval. Same as above but a faster time-lapse with more time compression. Protune on with auto white balance.
* Moving Daytime Time-lapse (action, car mounts, super smooth stationery, day)
* 7MP, 0.5 sec. interval. Protune on.
* 7MP, 1 sec. interval. Protune on.


Time lapse Photo Mode is the 4th mode in the list and is indicated by an icon of a clock with a camera. This mode is made to take a photo at specific intervals of time (every second, every 5 seconds, etc) until either the battery runs out, the card is full, or you stop the recording. You start it like a normal video recording by pressing the shutter button once, and stop by pressing the shutter button again. Keep in mind you’ll still end up with photos in the end, not video. The photos can be combined to make a time lapse in GoPro Studio. The screen displays the clock+camera in the top left followed by a W or M indicating FOV. Below this is the photo resolution followed by the interval. The large number shows how many photos have been recorded. The bottom small number shows how many photos can fit on the remaining space of the SD card, and the far bottom right shows the battery level.

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Field of View – W/M/N
The top left of the screen shows the video icon with a W or M next to it. These letters refer to the field of view (FOV) and stand for wide and medium.

Photo Resolution
Next down is the photo resolution, which tells you how many megapixels the photo is.

Photo Interval
To the right of photo resolution shows something like 0.5sec. This tells you how much time goes by before it will automatically take another photo. In the instance of 0.5sec it means it will take a photo every half second (2 per second).

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