Timelapse photography is, put simply, a number of photos of the same scene, spread over a period of time, and squeezed into a video. The video is played back in a shorter amount of time, enabling others to see changes in a landscape over the natural progression of time while not having to wait through the actual length of it.
Whether it’s bustling streets in the city or clouds gliding and twisting over a landscape, timelapse photography tells a much greater story about a place than any single image could.
Thanks to the GoPro’s built-in functionality, timelapses are incredibly easy to shoot and simple to edit using GoPro Studio, which you can download on your computer for free here.
4 steps to creating epic time lapses with your GoPro:
(First things first, make sure your GoPro is fully charged and that you have a lot of free space on your SD card.)
1. Choosing the right interval
Your interval depends on what you’re shooting. GoPro allows you to choose from a 0,5 second interval to a 60 second interval which you can change in the settings. You have to see how fast or slow your subject is moving to choose the best interval for the situation. For example, a sunrise happens quite slowly so a 10 second interval would work better than a 2 second interval as there is no major visible change in the sky in that period of time. Your shorter intervals would be used for shooting a busy street or crowds of people at rush hour.
TIP: Keep in mind that the smaller the interval, the smoother your time lapse will turn out and the longer the duration.
2. Setting up the shot
Your GoPro's role when creating timelapses is very different to when it's mounted on your surfboard, capturing you pumping at full speed through Pipeline-sized barrels (or so you wish!). For your timelapse to be effective, your GoPro must be firmly mounted perfectly still for a duration of time.
It’s important to use the right GoPro accessories to keep your camera as stable as possible. You don’t want your timelapse to be ruined because your camera wasn’t in a fixed position or a gust of wind knocked it over. Some great accessories are the GoPro 3 Way mount, the JOBY Action Tripod mount and, if you’re looking for something more affordable, the WOH Tri-Arm XL.
In the video below, I had my GoPro mounted on an extendable pole which I stuck in the sand. You’ll notice that the camera moves slightly because it wasn’t stable enough. Using a stronger tripod would have given perfectly smooth results.
Tripods are small, light and easy to set up wherever you want to do your timelapse. They’ll allow you to get new vantage points as you can set them up on just about any surface.If you’re lucky enough to have a GoPro 4 with an LCD screen on the back, setting up your timelapse is a whole lot easier. If not, the GoPro smartphone App allows you to control your GoPro from your smartphone using WiFi. This makes it easier to frame your shot.
(TIP: Turn off your GoPro’s WiFi once you start shooting to save its battery.)
The framing of your shot is the most important part of any timelapse. Try capture some sort of movement like people walking, trees swaying in the breeze, or my personal favourite; clouds moving at sunrise or sunset.
Now that you’ve selected an interval and attached your GoPro to your tripod, you can click the shutter button, sit back and relax. A red light will flash on your GoPro at every time interval you selected. Don’t move your camera at all while it’s shooting and wait until the sun has risen completely or rush hour is over until you turn it off.
Connect your GoPro to your computer and you should find a couple hundred images depending on how long you were shooting for.
Open GoPro Studio and import all of the images, selecting them all at once. Convert them and proceed to step two to edit your video. I like to add music to my timelapses and adjust the speed of the timelapse to go wth the music. Add a song, play the timelapse and split it into clips to change the speed. Keeping the timelapse at its normal speed looks pretty good too.
Now you can export your timelapse and marvel at your creation!
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