How to Make a Go Pro Time Lapse


Because Jalbert Productions International specializes in sports film production, we're no stranger to a GoPro. We use it for all sorts of action shots and interesting POV's. There are several different features on a GoPro, including taking a time-lapse, which we will teach you how to create below. Time-lapses function on a few basic principles. Unlike a normal video where a camera takes a picture multiple times per second, time-lapses take pictures every few seconds to give the illusion that things are moving very fast. 


Your GoPro has several options for choosing time intervals, ranging from 2 photos every second to 1 photo every minute. If you choose to take a time-lapse on the shorter end of the spectrum (2 photos every second, 1 photo every second, etc.), your time-lapse will look less sharp and more cinematic. These options work well for shorter time-lapses (under 20 minutes). Be aware that the faster intervals use more battery and more memory, so plan accordingly. On the flip side, you can set your photo interval for longer periods of time (1 photo every 10 seconds, 1 photo every minute, etc.). This option is great for when you want to set up your camera and walk away for a few hours. Because you're taking less photos per minute, your GoPro will use less battery and less memory. Be aware that these time-lapses tend to look a bit sharp and digital. 

STEP 1: 

Turn on your GoPro by pressing the power/mode button on the front of the camera. Your camera will make a nice beeping noise.

*Make sure that the battery is fully charged and that your camera has a sufficient amount of memory to shoot a long time lapse.  A good way to prepare your microSD card for time lapses is to use your GoPro’s built-in FORMAT function. To format a microSD card, use the MODE button to cycle through each menu. When you get to the SETTINGS Menu (Picture of a Screwdriver), select it with the red RECORD button.  Continue to cycle through the Settings menu until you reach the TRASH option, then select it.  Choose the ALL/FORMAT - the camera will ask you if you really want to “Delete All”. If you say yes, it will proceed to format your card. Once your microSD card is formatted, exit and go back to the main menu. Now your camera is ready to go.


STEP 2 : 

Before putting your camera in Time-Lapse mode, you need to select the proper settings. Cycle through the GoPro menus until you reach the Settings option. Go through the Settings until you find a little picture of a camera with a clock and a number underneath. This is the menu where you can select how often your time lapse will snap a photo.

Go ahead and choose an option – most GoPro models allow choices between 0.5 second and 60 second intervals.

When you’re finished, you’re ready to go back to the main camera menu.


STEP 3: 

Now that you’ve selected your desired setting, you need to put the camera in Time-Lapse mode. Cycle through the main menus with the MODE button until you see a picture of a camera with a little clock.

That’s it! Once you select this setting, you’re ready to start shooting your time-lapse. Just press record and walk away.

After you’ve finished shooting your time-lapse, you’ll have a large amount of .JPEG images stored on your GoPro’s microSD card. Each .JPEG file will serve as a single frame in your overall time lapse movie.

In order to convert these still photos into moving images, you’ll need to process the files in Adobe After Effects.

STEP 4 : 

Connect your camera to your computer using the appropriate USB cord and open up a new After Effects project. When After Effects is loaded up, go to FILE > IMPORT > FILE… on the top menu and navigate to the folder on your GoPro card that holds all of the pictures. Select the first picture in the folder. Make sure that the little “JPEG Sequence” box is checked at the bottom of the import window – this will ensure that After Effects will take the entire folder as one sequential file.  Now you can go ahead and click “Open.”

STEP 5: 

You’ll see a .JPG file pop up under your After Effects Project tab. Right-click (ctrl-click) on the file name and select INTERPRET FOOTAGE > MAIN… A new window will pop up with a bunch of super technical options. Focus on the “Assume Footage:” option under the “Main Options” tab. After Effects will want to make a 30 frames-per-second sequence by default, but you can select whatever frame rate you like. When you’re finished selecting a frame rate, click “Ok”.

STEP 6: 

Drag the newly interpreted .JPG sequence onto the “Create New Composition” icon to load everything into your timeline as a new composition. Once everything is loaded properly, you can export this new sequence into the After Effects render queue.


Set your Output option to the appropriate destination, and make sure that your settings are optimized for your own editing workflow. When everything is set up, click “Render” and let After Effects cook out your new time-lapse!

**Bonus Step: 

If you’re looking to add some cool, professional looking movement to your time-lapse, you can add a “digital move” in a standard video editing software (Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, etc.) To make the above video, we use key frames at the In and Out points on each clip to key digital zooms (Increase Scale) and digital pans (Change Anchor Point). Play around with different keyframe techniques to get your look just right. You’ll notice that your video will not lose any resolution even when you’re zooming in to 200%. This is because GoPro cameras shoot at 12-megapixel resolution, and are therefore Ultra HD when it comes to time-lapse videos. This makes room for a bit of flexibility during post production, allowing editors to move and alter images without any loss in image quality.

Our example video was shot with the following specs:

Camera: GoPro Hero 3 Black

Time Interval: 1 Photo Every 2 Seconds

Resolution: 12MP

Frame Rate: 23.98 fps

Accessories: Extra Battery BacPac, Curved/Flat Adhesive Mounts, Grab Bag of Mounts, 32GB microSD Card

Good luck with your next time-lapse! 

Jay Jalbert