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GoPro How To Time-lapse

How To Make a Time-Lapse Video of Your Next Road Trip

Written By, Jordan R.

Want to show the world how it looks from your perspective? Have a nice morning drive or a sunset view on your evening commute? Plans to drive on an All-American Road or drive through the mountains?

You can easily capture a drive and quickly show it in a time-lapse video, and GoPro cameras make it really easy. Whether you want to have a time-lapse to quickly show everyone your experience or you just want to have a quick way to relive an important, fun or beautiful moment, try a time lapse video.

All you need  is a few pieces of equipment and the right camera settings, and you can make a really cool time-lapse video anywhere.

Different Methods for Shooting a Timelapse Video on a GoPro

Interval settings that take photos one-by-one

This is very easy way to make a time-lapse with a GoPro and GoPros are very high-quality, so the footage will look beautiful. There are two GoPro options for this method. First is set an interval rate for the camera to take pictures and then upload them into GoPro studio, and the program will create the time-lapse video for you.

Or there’s the new special interval "Time Lapse" setting that GoPro added to the new Hero4 Silver or Black. This new setting takes still photos in 4k resolution, and then the GoPro automatically puts them into a video file once filming is complete.

Shoot a video over a period of time

Set up the camera, press record, and leave it alone. The result is a time-lapse video with no time jumps or frames missing. This will look more smooth or less “jumpy” but since this method is constantly recording, it takes up a lot of memory space, which will require a lot of big memory cards and a lot of memory on the computer used for film editing.

Also, since the camera is recording actual time, you have to put the footage into your computer and then edit the video to play at a faster frame rate.

Necessary Equipment for a Time-Lapse Video in the Car

  • Fully charged GoPro with an already formatted memory card or two. Do  the math to figure out how much memory you need.
  • How long is your trip? If it is more than 2 hours, you will either need to buy multiple batteries or a special accessory that will allow your GoPro to hook up to a power source.
  • A level surface and a mount to keep it in place. There are a variety of mounts out there.Download the GoPro 
  • Your car (duh)




Time-Lapse Camera Settings for the Drive

As discussed, there are two ways to go about this and if you are making a time-lapse from video footage, you don’t need to worry about this part. But if you are doing a time-lapse that is a compilation of still frames taken at intervals, your interval settings are very important, and you need to consider a few things.

  1. How long do you want the video to be?

How much time-lapse do you want? The best part about time-lapse is that it provides the imagery of everything in a condensed time so 30 seconds of footage actually shows a ton footage!

  1. How long is your car trip?

If you are going on a shorter ride, you can set it at a faster interval, but if are going on a long car ride, you might want to use a longer interval. But, that’s up to you and your purpose of the time-lapse.

So what will a 30 minute car ride get you? Let’s start with the basics.

To get one second of film, you need 24-30 pictures. This is because 1 second of film consists of 24 or 30 frames per second (fps), depends on what you want, but these days 30fps is fairly standard.

To make the math a little easier, all of the below examples are going to relate to film using 30 fps.  

So if the camera is set at .5 seconds, in one minute the video is 4 seconds long -- in 60 seconds 120 photos have been taken, so that is 120 frames and you need 30 frames for 1 second, so 120 frames / 30fps = 4 seconds of footage.

So, a .5 second interval on a 30 minute car ride will produce 2 minutes of footage.

Are you traveling for two hours? A .5 second interval for 2 hours will result in an 8 minute time-lapse video, and that’s a pretty long time-lapse video and it could be a little boring.

Try a 5 second interval. In one minute the camera has taken 12 photos. In 120 minutes or 2 hours, you’ll have 48 seconds of timelapse footage.

However, if you are trying to capture a timelapse video of a long road trip, you want to make the intervals a little longer, maybe 10, 15 or 30 seconds, otherwise you will have too much footage.  

The problem with longer intervals is that the final video might look little less fluid, than the a video with faster intervals. This is because you have traveled much farther than you did in 5 seconds.

However, if you are traveling on a long stretch of highway where the terrain doesn’t change very much, it won’t be as drastic looking as you think. The same thing applies to slow traffic.

So, how long is your long road trip? Here is what you will get a these intervals.

10 seconds = 6 photos per minute. In 5 minutes there is 1 second of footage, so in one hour there is 12 seconds of footage. In a 4-hour drive you have 48 seconds of footage.

15 seconds = 4 photos per minute. In 7.5 minutes there is 1 second of footage. So in one hour that is 8 seconds of time lapse footage. So an 8-hour drive at a 15 second interval will produce one minute and four seconds of footage.

Things to Keep in Mind

Be strategic with your GoPro placement. The front window pane can produce a glare and ruin your footage. Each car is different so you will need to test it out to make sure you don’t get a glare.

Test out the time intervals for yourself to see what looks best to you.

Ta-da! You’ve made your very first time-lapse video. Show us what you made on our Facebook or Twitter. Who knows…we may have a contest some day.