This post contains affiliate links, which means I will make a small commission if you make a purchase using one of the links.

So you’ve just bought a GoPro and want to get out there and start making those epic videos you see on the GoPro
YouTube channel… Soon, soon my friend! Let’s start off by talking a little bit about time-lapses as they are always great additions to epic videography! This article will cover the process of recording a time-lapse video on the HERO4 cameras and lends some tips that can be used across all platforms.

1. What is time-lapse video, how does it work?

A time-lapse is when a camera takes a sequence of images with a set interval of time in between each image. All the images are then “stitched” together into a single video that plays back at a high rate of speed. This way an hour of footage can be compressed into a few seconds of playback, thus producing the time lapse effect and some awesome videos at the same time!

2. What should I film?

Literally anything… that moves that is, it is completely up to your imagination. A good video usually depicts a still scene with a view that slowly undergoes change. Some suggestions:

Clouds moving across the sky
Sunrise and sunset
Construction project
Stars moving across the night sky
Busy city streets
A ‘drivelapse’
It is important to imagine how you would like your shot to look before you start filming. A good tip is to walk around and take in the scenery when you arrive on location, this will ensure you set up the camera to capture the best possible frame.

An example of a short time-lapse I took of the sunrise in Cocoa Beach, FL
[youtube vid]

3. What Equipment do I need?

It is important to show up with the right equipment to get the job done, or you could be wasting your time. This article is focusing on the GoPro HERO4 edition cameras however you can accomplish this with many different cameras and systems.


A tripod is essential – it is important that your camera does not move and remains stationary throughout the process, so a stable tripod is the best solution for this. You will probably have to pick up the tripod adapter since it doesn’t come with the GoPro, which is quite ridiculous if you ask me.

Do some math before you leave and make sure you will have enough space on your memory card to finish the time-lapse. Figure out the image size of the photo resolution you will be shooting in and how many shots will you need to take for the length of the video you want. Check out this awesome time-lapse calculator to help you out!

Depending on the settings of your camera, the GoPro’s internal battery will only last around 1.5-2hrs. If you are planning on doing an extended time-lapse it is recommended to bring extra batteries, a Battery BacPac or better yet a “battery eliminator” which is basically a USB cable hooked to a GoPro battery, best to use the Skeleton casing on your GoPro if you’re going this route.

4. GoPro Time-Lapse Settings

The easiest way to create a time-lapse video with a HERO4 Black & Silver edition is by using the ‘Time Lapse Video’ mode under the video settings menu. While in this mode you can choose your interval and video resolution – 4K or 2.7K 4:3 aspect ratio. If using 2.7K you can use virtually any editing software, including GoPro Studio to pop it into a 16:9 frame from 4:3 that will look great on Youtube.

I always go with 12MP WIDE. It provides the best quality (4000×3000 pixels) pictures and it also gives us a lot of extra image resolution to play with, you can zoom in and pan through your time-lapse in the video, without quickly losing the quality of your images. With all that said it’s important to remember that the higher the resolution the quicker your memory card is filled up.

SHOT INTERVAL (verify 30fps)
The available interval options are 0.5 (default), 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, and 60 seconds. On the GoPro the video will playback at 30FPS, so if you set the interval to 0.5 seconds, that is one frame captured every half-second – you will need to record for 15 seconds to get 1 second of time-lapse video footage (again at 30fps). If you aren’t using a GoPro you can plug some numbers into the following formula:
Video Length = # of Photos / FPS

Also don’t forget about utilizing the calculator at

Obviously everyone’s opinion will be different but here are some suggested intervals.

1s – Crowded market place/People walking
2s – A DriveLapse, city traffic
5s – Clouds, sunrise, sunset, moon
30s – Construction project

Once you go through this a few times you will become comfortable and find which intervals work best for you.

5. Import and Edit

If you used the time-lapse mode you simply need to hook the GoPro up to the computer and transfer the video over, nothing else to it, unless you want to apply some cool post editing effects. If you did not use the time-lapse mode you can import all the individual pictures in and then convert them into one time-lapse video with GoPro studio.

Feel free to share your experiences and or tips for creating time-lapses in the comments, also a link to them would be great so others can learn!


Joey is a West Virginian native who enjoys traveling and exploring the unknown. He has a passion for producing videos and photos along the way so he can share his travel experiences with others.

1 Comment

Write A Comment