GoPro Hero Time Lapse

GoPro Hero Time Lapse
by filmmaker Joseph Ort

The GoPro Hero can be utilized for time lapse footage.

When dealing with time lapses, it’s all about doing the correct math. Not only because you want your end product to be a certain length, but also when dealing with the storage space while creating a time lapse.

The GoPro Hero cameras are nice for time lapses for a variety of reasons:

  • Built in intervalometer.
  • Can be placed in certain locations that you wouldn’t want your DSLR to get damaged.
  • Professional quality.

My timelapse was for a cross country roadtrip. So the basic rundown with the gear was:

The AC power adapter took away the worry of having to switch out the GoPro batteries every two hours (four hours if you have the extension); however, there was one problem that occurred. You can not have the LCD pack on the back of the GoPro on for long periods of time, even if you plug in the AC power.

Having the LCD pack plugged in actually caused the GoPro camera to get so hot, that it actually shuts down the camera completely.

Now the test was to see if the GoPro was actually recording or not throughout the trip. Sure you can leave the beeping sound on, but that can get very annoying – very fast. The best bet is to plug it in, know that it’s recording and then leave it alone. Check it when you’re at a gas station by leaning from the outside and check for the red flash that happens so many seconds. Since it’s a longer static shot at the gas station, it will easier to cut out that section of you peeping in through the windshield in post.

For GoPro Hero 2 users, there is not a worry, GoPro added the flashing on different spots of the camera now, so the guess work is no more. So then the question of – When do I need change the cards in the camera?

The GoPro Hero 1 takes 5MP and it averages 1.7 -2MB. So let’s say 2MB for easy math.

With a 32 GB card, that’s 1,024MB for each GB (let’s say 1,000MB for easy math), so that’s a total of 32,000MB. So if the GoPro camera takes 2MB stills, that’s 16,000 stills that can fit onto a 32GB card (32,000 divided by 2).

Then it’s time to figure out your intervals. For something that’s happening fast, like pedestrians crossing the street, cars passing by, fast moving clouds – you would want to shoot 1 or 2 second intervals. Meaning that every second or two seconds your camera is taking one still. For this roadtrip, since it’s going to be sped up so fast, I was thinking more like every 5 or even 10 seconds for each shot. I ended up going with every 10 seconds.

Once again math comes back into play. So for every 10 seconds my GoPro takes one still. That is a total of 6 stills in a minute (60 seconds in a minute divided by 10). For every hour that’s a total of 360 stills (6 stills in a minute times 60 minutes in an hour). That gives me a total of 360 stills in an hour.

If I can do 360 stills in an hour, I’ll take the total capacity that my card can hold (16,000) and the result is just about 44 1/2 hours.

To be on the safe side and since I had more SDHC cards with me, I switched it out before I even reached that mark. The main reason is to check the footage and to see that everything was turning out right. It’s better to split it up like that, than to waste an entire time lapse that definitely couldn’t be repeated without a major expense by relying on just one SDHC card.

So it’s good to know the math of the time lapse before you create one but it’s also important to make sure that the time lapse is actually working and to switch out the cards if you can.


  1. marke says

    Thank you for the information.

    There are times when I want the GoPro to beep after every photo is taken in timelapse mode. Do you know how to do that?

    Thank you

  2. says

    Not too much of a problem with this one. I used the narrow setting on the GoPro and the camera was mounted tight up against the windshield. The one thing at night was actually the glow of the GPS. Sometimes that creeped in at the lower corner of the frame. A good thing to use to keep reflections out is a Lenskirt:

    Might be a problem with the GoPro cameras because the tend to shoot wider than a DSLR but it does help keep down on reflections.

  3. Pascal Bourque says

    Did you end up seeing reflections in the windshield (especially at night), or you got pretty clear images overall?

  4. arieslou says

    I have the same problem when shooting the timelapse with the AC Adapter, the Gopro stop after shooting 609 photos, I was shooting inside the Expo Hall with 24 hours Air Con.

  5. Martin says

    I’m trying to do the same thing with my GoPro HD + AC Adapter connected to the battery pack. For some reason, the camera will shut down by itself after an hour or two. By reading your article, I just realize that it might be an overheating problem because the camera is mounted in a watertight skeleton and installed on the roof of a building … not the coolest place to be, especially this week with the nice weather we’re having here.

    Now I have to figure out how to cool it down while keeping it protected against the bad weather. Anyway, just wanted to thank you for enlightening me !

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