There are two different ways to create timelapse videos with a GoPro: shoot a sequence of jpg still photos to be compiled on your computer, or have the camera do the compiling in-camera to create an mp4 video from the get-go.
The in-camera version, also known as timelapse video mode, is only available in the GoPro HERO4 Black and Silver.
The more traditional method, and one supported by the other cameras in the range as well, is to shoot a sequence of still images, download those to your computer, and use software to compile the still images into a video file.
There are many different software packages that can do this, and they have all sorts of different features. GoPro Studio is one of them. It's free, works great with GoPro's Protune mode, and it allows you to do some pretty sophisticated creative editing as part of the process. You can download it here.
I'm focusing in this how-to on creating a very basic timelapse video clip from a sequence of timelapse images. I'm assuming you've already shot the images. And I'll handle some of the fancier editing options separately at a later time. But here's how to take a sequence of timelapse photos you've shot with your GoPro to create a simple timelapse video you can share on Youtube, Facebook, or elsewhere or save it for later editing.
You'll first need to import all the images. You can do this by hitting the Import New Files panel, going to File > Import Media or using the keyboard shortcut ⌘I (on Mac) or Ctrl+I (on Windows).
It makes things much easier if you have all of your images in a single, dedicated folder, named sequentially. GoPro Studio is smart enough that if you select the first file it'll automatically pick up that it's an image sequence and bring them all in. You can select all the images if you like, but you don't have to.
It'll then take a few seconds to build a reference movie, which is what's used for the first part of the editing.
The new reference movie is put in the left-hand panel that shows clips.
Creating an Interim Working Copy Video
If you click on it, the active clip will show up in the main, center window.
You can now preview the sequence using the play button in the middle panel.
If you hit the Advanced Settings button at bottom left, you can set the image size that will be used for the video, the frame rate, and the quality.
Assuming it's got all the images you want in the sequence, the next step is to hit the "Add Clip to Conversion List" button.
The clip then gets queued in the right panel called Conversion List. If you're adding more clips, repeat the process to add them to the Conversion List panel. Once you're done, hit the Convert button. This compiles the sequences into a working video file ready for editing. Depending on how long and how many your clips are, it might take a few minutes. You'll see a preview in the small thumbnail while it's working.
Once the conversion process is finished, the Convert button will change to a Proceed to Step 2 button. Click that.
You'll then get an option to choose an edit template. For now, to keep things simple, just hit Cancel.
When you first open the Edit step, the center panel will be blank. That's because you haven't yet selected an active clip. So click on your clip from the left panel.
There's no requirement to work in a particular order with the editing tools, but as a first step, I like to trim the beginning and end of the clip. To do that, move the playhead to the precise frame you want as the first frame of the clip. You can use the arrow keys to move by individual frames or use the buttons immediately either side of the play button that look like a combination of play and pause button.
Then you can hit the Mark In Point button.
Repeat for the end of the clip, using the button next to it.
Because the file is now in video form, you an apply all of the usual video editing tools to it. You can change things like white balance, cropping and zooming, add keyframes, add fade-in and fade-out, color grade, apply presets, or add soundtracks or titles. And you can of course combine clips, etc, to make more sophisticated edits between shots. Basically, the sky's the limit here.
To do any of those, you're going to want to work with the storyboard panel at the bottom, and it'll start looking more like this.
Exporting the Timelapse Video
But that get's us well beyond the scope of this particular walk-thru. If you're looking for the simplest possible way to export a basic, simple timelapse clip, you can skip the storyboard panel.
Once you're happy with the basic settings, click on the Export step.
You'll immediately get a browser window where you can name the exported file and select where to save it. More importantly, you can also choose the settings to export it at.
There are some presets with settings optimized for particular uses, including Youtube and Vimeo. If you want more control, you can choose the Custom option and specify individual settings, including the ability to export to GoPro CineForm format. If you're looking to keep things simple for uploading the web, the Youtube preset is a good place to start.
Once you hit the Export button, you're good to go! If you want to save the project in order to be able to come back later and make further edits, go to File > Save Project.
Common GoPro Questions
Here are some common questions I get from GoPro users.
How to Maximize a GoPro's battery life
There are several factors that influence how long the GoPro's battery life lasts. Among them include what mode you're recording in (4K uses more power than 1080p30, for instance), the health of the battery, and even the environmental temperature (lithium batteries don't perform well in very cold temperatures). But there are some things you can do to maximize battery life. Not every GoPro has all of these features, but start with these:
- Minimize use of the back screen
- Turn off wireless
- Turn off voice commands
- Turn off GPS
- Turn off Protune
- Use QuickCapture mode
Is it normal for GoPro cameras to get hot?
Yes. Depending on the model and the shooting mode you're using, it's normal for GoPros to get quite warm while shooting. They can get hot enough to be uncomfortable to touch. It's especially noticeable when shooting high-resolution and high-framerate video. Some newer models have an overheating protection mechanism that will shut the camera down if it gets too hot. I have more details on GoPros getting hot, here.
How can I control a GoPro remotely?
GoPro makes a range of wireless remote controls. They don't all work with all GoPros--for example, the HERO (2018) isn't compatible with this type of remote control. Many of the newer models also work with the GoPro mobile app. Not every model can be controlled remotely, but most of the newer models have wireless compatibility that can be used for at least some methods of remote control.
Can you take pictures with a GoPro?
If you've been using a GoPro for a while, this might seem pretty obvious, but if you've never used one, it's not quite so self-evident. GoPros are best known for dramatic action videos, but they can most certainly take still photos too. In fact, they can be a very interesting alternative to a traditional camera so long as you work within its limitations. I have more more details here.
Do GoPro wireless controls work underwater?
No. You can't use the mobile app or a wireless remote control if the camera is fully submerged in water. They will normally work just fine in rain and spray--just not submerged. I have a more detailed explanation here.
Do GoPro touchscreens work underwater?
No. If they're just wet above water, they can work to some extent, although often less reliably. But the touchscreens won't work underwater.