How To Make a GoPro Timelapse Video (6 Steps)

timelapse-goproWhen I first ordered my GoPro camera, I couldn’t wait to use it.

We were booked for a press trip to the Galapagos (we had snorkeling on the brain) and a fully waterproof camera would be amazing.

But aside from the underwater function, I was excited about the time lapse function.

The GoPro shoots in 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, or 60 second intervals. They also make free editing software called GoPro Studio Edit Software. It is specifically for creating time lapse and slo-mo videos.

A couple of days ago I published my first time lapse video (Galapagos Sunset).

In this post: I will breakdown what I learned, the settings and equipment I used.

What is a time-lapse video? Simply put, it is a series of photos of the same scene – 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.

Learn about: GoPro Time Lapse Settings

Before we get into the specifics, why not check out Project GoPro? With this detailed guide you’ll quickly dominate the GoPro settings and begin creating amazing photos and videos. Get your copy now! (Read our detailed review).

6 Steps to Shooting The Time Lapse Images

To create a great time-lapse video, you’re going to need some great images.

Here are six things you should do:

  1. Frame It Up Well: The first time I used the GoPro to shoot a time-lapse series I was so excited about what I was doing (with the camera) that I forgot what I was actually doing (shooting images). What I ended up with was 2000 poorly framed and poorly exposed images. Which I deleted after we returned home from the Galapagos. It was a few hours of Galapagos midday sky and water activity – and it would have been beautiful if I had just taken my time setting up the shot.
  2. Use a Tripod: Without a tripod, your images will not blend properly into a watchable video. I travel with a Joby Gorillapod (the one for dSLR cameras) which works well for the GoPro and the much heavier dSLR cameras. This way I don’t have to carry two tripods. The attachments and mounts come with the GoPro kit. To setup like I did below, you’ll just need the Gorillapod – and it’s worth every cent.
    timelapse-gopro-setup timelapse-tripod
  3. Don’t Worry About Every Image: 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. The first image below shows me grasping for a memory card as it fell into the water. The other 2 images show me checking on the GoPro display to make sure it still had enough memory and then taking a photo of the setup with another camera. Because of the number of photos used, you can easily delete the ones that you aren’t happy with – and no one else will know.create-timelapse-extra3create-timelapse-extra create-timelapse-extra2
  4. Use a Large (and Fast) Memory Card: After reading about it on a number of blogs – I ordered a 32GB Class 10 memory card. While a slower card might be okay for a point-and-shoot camera, the GoPro is made to produce high resolution images very fast. A slower card probably won’t keep up with the incoming new images. And when you are shooting your time-lapse, the last thing you want to worry about is running out of memory.
  5. Be Prepared to Wait: You will need to have patience. Don’t setup a time-lapse unless you have some time on your hands. The video below took 90 minutes of shooting to produce a 30 second video. The settings I used are below. Because I used a good tripod, I was able to walk around, play in the sand with my daughter and walk in the waves with Dena. I’m in a number of the shots.
  6. Take Your Time Editing: Every time-lapse is different. There is no rule that determines what your frame rate playback should be. I have had good success with 15 fps for clouds and sunsets. But this frame rate makes road traffic look like it is hyperactive. Experiment and have fun. You might need to output each set of images a few different ways to see what looks best. And choose some appropriate music. Because a time-lapse is just a bunch of photos, there is no sound. You will need to add something to the clip to keep it alive.

What I Used: My GoPro Setup

To shoot the time-lapse, here is the equipment that I used.

  • GoPro Hero3 (Silver Edition)
  • Tripod: Joby Gorillapod SLR Zoom This is the strongest, most adaptable tripod I own. I trust it with my heavy dSLR – there is no question that it can handle the lightweight GoPro. I recommend this for time-lapses because it mounts anywhere.
  • GoPro Tripod Camera Mount: you’ll need this to connect the GoPro to any standard tripod. GoPro has it’s own unique mounting system – made to be strong and quickly changable. You’ll need this little mount. They sell for $9.99.
  • Memory Card: SanDisk Ultra 32GB microSDXC Class 10
  • Wasabi Batteries: to get a proper timelapse, you’ll need something a little more powerful than the standard GoPro battery. These Wasabi batteries last longer and come with their own charger.

There are many ways to do this. I would love to hear what you are using.

The Settings I Used On My Time Lapse Shoot

On our last trip to the Galapagos, I shot a few sets of time-lapse images.

For the time-lapse video at the end of the post, I shot the images at:

  • 11MP (3840px x 2880px) images at a 10 second interval
  • A total of 484 images from 5:30pm to 7pm

Inside of GoPro Studio, I output the images at 15 frames per second and added a filter to bring out the colors a little.

While I could have uploaded the output video straight from this tool, I moved the output MPEG file into Sony Movie Studio to add some music, my watermark and the concluding frames. I then rendered the video for web and uploaded to YouTube.

Here is the final product:

Galapagos Sunset on Isabela Island

Watch on YouTube. I have also produced a Galapagos sunrise video.

Check out our new photography blog – we write about GoPro and DSLR photography.

Now It’s Your Turn

What success / troubles have you had with time-lapse? Please share your questions, tips and links in the comments below.

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Hi, I'm the Author!

Bryan Haines

Bryan Haines has been building (and selling) businesses since high school. Since moving to South America in 2009, Bryan and Dena have made their living as bloggers. Bryan is a partner at Storyteller Media, a content marketing company for Canadian travel brands. He is founder of this site and co-founder of Click Like This - a photo tutorial blog.

30 comments… add one

  • Jen Jul 22, 2015, 1:41 am

    Thank you for the tips. I am ready to create a time-lapse video of my wood flooring being installed. What do you recommend the time intervals be? I will not have time to test and am searching for help on this! Thanks!!!

  • Colin Bell Jun 9, 2015, 6:44 am

    I want to time-lapse the opening of a flower. A rose. Using my GoPro Black 3+ what settings would you recommend please? I can connect to mains power so battery life no problem. Think you work brilliant, thanks for sharing your expertise. Colin.

  • Jonathon Ramsey May 22, 2015, 8:00 am

    I am creating a time lapse for the first time. I am filming my sons (5 year olds) plant that he is growing for school. They wanted a simple picture which they will get on top of this. I feel it would be pretty cool the rate this plant is growing to do a time lapse video. I have set it up for 5mp and 60seconds. I have connected it to a external power source despite my camera is nearly fully charged to allow for a few days of untouched and pictures to show. I am aiming for a video about 1-2 minutes at the most but with some added touches at the end. Luckily I have another photographer who is good with the editing side. I am much better at film making. So together we make a good team. We mainly do Ariel photography/videos. So this is something new but exciting as a project. Thank you for all your tips.

  • arcticlapse Mar 28, 2015, 4:16 pm

    Hi Bryan!

    I am trying/want to mod my GoPro 3 to make it possible to do a picture picture like every 3-8 hours. I am trying to do an all year timelapse by mounting my GoPro to an external power source, and doing 4-10 pictures a day all year round. A year or so ago i read about a control card that someone had attached to the GoPro to make it more “controllable, but I can’t find that now.

    Have you heard about any solutions that would make this possible?

  • Arnau Orengo Feb 9, 2015, 5:39 pm

    I’m sorry, but you should always play the video at a minimum frame rate of 25fps, otherwise it won’t look fluent, it would be like a stop motion.
    What you need to change in every timelapse (depending on the movement in your composition) is the interval; if you’re shooting a sunset, aprox 10sec between each picture is right, but, if you’re shooting people or vehicles, that moves really fast, you should take pictures every maximum 2sec.
    The longer time the action lasts, the bigger the interval. For a day to night scene (takes around 90-120minutes), 20sec would be a good interval.


  • Brooke Feb 8, 2015, 11:41 am

    Hi Bryan,
    Nice job on the videos! I have a technical question and hope you can help. I have shot 5 different videos and doing 1 shot every 30 seconds. After 8 hours I get my gopro and take the photos off the card and delete them so I can make another video the next day. I am doing a time lapse of my garden growing so it’s going to be about 30 days worth. My issue is when I delete the pics off my gopro it looks like it records the same numbers the next day. So, I am getting duplicate photos although they really are not. Do you know if there is a way to change the file names? I know I may be stretching…maybe there is a better way?
    Many thanks!

    • Bryan Haines Mar 15, 2015, 6:46 am

      I don’t know how to change the file names to be incremental. Here are a couple of work-arounds:

      You could save each day into separate folders, then create each day as a it’s own time-lapse and combine each of those mini clips.

      Or you could just keep the images on your camera. You might have to offload 2 times shooting 960 images daily (2 images/minute over eight hours) if you shoot at 5MP using a 32GB card. Then you could create each timelapse and just combine them.

      Would love to hear what works for you.

  • Jeff Jan 5, 2015, 6:21 pm

    Excellent timelapse video, Bryan!

  • Robby Dec 29, 2014, 9:47 pm

    You really shouldn’t use the sandisk ultra, the sandisk extreme is fine. However the ultra was so weak that gopro started making the cameras recognise when an ultra is inserted so that the camera will save in lower quality to avoid problems. However this wont matter for time lapse since they are super slow and give the card lots of time to save images.

  • Sigrid Dec 26, 2014, 10:20 am

    Great post

    Im trying to delete a single photo in a timelapse group but it wont let me…it only allows me to delete the whole group. So this might seem as a stupid question but how do you delete just the mis-hap photos only?

    • Bryan Haines Dec 26, 2014, 5:04 pm

      I edited the photos before importing them into GoPro’s software. Once they are imported, it is impossible to remove a specific frame.

  • Dipesh Dec 13, 2014, 10:14 pm

    Awesome! Thx for the tips. I’m in iquazu, Argentina at the moment. Will try a time lapse tomorrow morning before my flight back home.

    Thx again.

  • Jeff @ Go Travelzing Sep 27, 2014, 6:43 pm

    Nice video. I recently got a GoPro and am practicing for an upcoming trip. The time lapse feature is one of the reasons I got it.

    The first video I shot was at .5 second intervals and that was too many shots. I am going to try the 10 second intervals next.

    Wasabi now has a extended battery. It is supposed to last 3-4 hours. This sound like the perfect thing for time lapse.

    • Bryan Haines Sep 30, 2014, 6:46 am

      We’ve had great success with the Wasabi batteries for GoPro. Not only are they great as a couple of spares – they actually last longer than the original GoPro battery.

      We’ve had good success with 10 second interval for long sunsets. Would love to hear how it comes out.

  • Davin Sep 18, 2014, 10:48 am

    Hey, great video! I would like to do something similar but over a much longer span of time. I had the idea to make a video of my construction process over a 3 week project. Would such a task be possible with the GoPro and if so how would I go about it??

    • Bryan Haines Sep 18, 2014, 12:01 pm

      It would be possible – the limiting factor would be the battery. I believe you can connect power direct to the camera – but you’ll have to figure out a safe way to mount the camera, and then protect it from the elements. Another camera with direct power might be easier, but I think it could be done with a GoPro.

  • rob Sep 13, 2014, 6:17 pm

    Hey, amazing footage from the Galapagos islands. Just a question….the battery life on a gopro is around 10-20 minutes. How did you power this through the entire footage….?

    • Bryan Haines Sep 14, 2014, 9:33 am

      We get more than 1 hour on the Hero3 – of solid video. We’ve shot 4+ hours of timelapse video on one battery.

      • rob Sep 14, 2014, 12:36 pm

        Thanks for the quick reply Brian. Where did you get 1 hours battery from, the ones I possess only hold 10 mins of charge. I’m currently powering it through the mains via usb to get a good 4-8 hours of timelapse footage. Regards

        • Dena Haines Sep 16, 2014, 7:22 am

          I bought Wasabi batteries for GoPro Hero3 and they last significantly longer than the one that GoPro provides. (And they come with a wall/car charger).

          You should also check that the WiFi is turned off – this will drain the battery.

  • Nicolas Sep 11, 2014, 8:27 pm

    Hey hi! thanks for the tips, they are very useful! I have three questions. 1. So you have Quick Time pro or just Quick Time? I didn’t know this program also edited video! 2. What about night time lapse? like in a city.? 3. and did you use protune or modify the kelvins?

    Thanks Alot

    • Dena Haines Sep 16, 2014, 7:36 am

      1) I used GoPro Studio Edit Software – it is free and easy to use. I didn’t use Quicktime. To finish it off I also used Sony Movie Studio, but this is optional. It was just to polish it a little.

      2) This process should work on any time-lapse that you want to create. You will just need to give some thought to what you want the final product to look like.

      3) No, this was shot in standard mode. You can use some of the presets inside of the software while processing.

  • isaac Jul 12, 2014, 10:08 pm

    thanks im going to try to make one of a guam beach sunset tonight. so you made it take 1 photo every 15 seconds??? and what resolution did you use??? thank you

    • Bryan Haines Jul 14, 2014, 7:32 am

      Hey Isaac, sorry for my slow reply – I was offline the last few days.

      I used 11MP (3840px x 2880px) images (all the details are in the post 😉 )

      How did you make out?

  • colette Mar 20, 2014, 1:29 pm

    I’ve always wanted a time-lapse camera. This would be so much fun! I’ll have to get it on a birthday list and see what happens. :)
    Thanks for the post.

    • Bryan Haines Mar 20, 2014, 4:46 pm

      It’s a lot of fun – and a great way to capture the essence of a place.

  • Bob Mar 18, 2014, 7:12 pm

    Well done. Thanks for the many good tips.

    • Bryan Haines Mar 18, 2014, 7:40 pm

      Thanks Bob – let me know what you produce. I would love to see it!

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