When 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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
I have also produced a Galapagos sunrise video.
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.