How to record a time-lapse video of your drive with a GoPro

August 4th, 2016 by

Ever see something really cool while driving along the lonesome road and thought to yourself, “Man I wish someone else could see this”? Well now you can share those experiences with anyone by using a dash-cam GoPro camera. It’s easy to capture footage with the GoPro, and it’s just as easy to shoot a time-lapse video. It’s one of the best ways to share the beautiful road with friends or as a personal reminder to yourself.

We just need the right equipment and the correct settings and we’ll be on our way.

GoPro Time-lapse Video Settings

Before you shoot a time-lapse video, you need to figure out what settings you’re going to use and there are a couple ways to do it.

Interval settings that take photos one-by-one

This setting is the easiest way to go about shooting a time-lapse video because photos are taken at intervals, so you are not stuck with a lot of extra footage that needs to be sped up.

With the interval method, the user just needs to set-up their camera with a mount and then set an interval rate for how frequently the camera should take pictures. Depending on your GoPro, you will either need to make the final video in GoPro Studio; some of the newer GoPros can do it for you such as GoPro Hero4.

Shoot a video over time

This is another way to go about time-lapse videos, and it’s as old as the concept itself. Set up the camera, press record, and let it do its thing. Then whenever you have all of the footage you want, upload it into a program such as GoPro Studio and speed up the footage to a rate you prefer. The downside is how much memory this method takes up and the large file can really wreak some havoc on a slow computer. So although this method takes a little time and effort to set up, the end-result will take double the amount of time and resources.

Equipment Needed for a Time-Lapse Video

  • Fully charged GoPro camera with a formatted memory card. Take an extra card or two depending on the method you use and how much memory you’ll need.
  • Is this a long trip? If so, bring a couple of batteries for your GoPro or buy a power inverter that will allow you to plug it straight into the car.
  • You need a level surface or mount for the GoPro to sit. A GoPro windshield mount would work. Also, all cars are different so you’ll need to find a spot on the dash that won’t have a huge glare.
  • Check out and download the GoPro smartphone app. This will allow you to preview footage in real-time without looking through the camera.
  • Your car

GoPro Camera Settings for a Time-Lapse Video while Driving

  1. How long do you want to film for?

Basically, how long of a time-lapse do you want? An hour? Three hours? A day?! Think about that and plan ahead. The best part about shooting a time-lapse video is you can condense an entire day of driving into a few minutes with the appropriate interval setting.

  1. How long will you be driving for?

This is an important question to answer because how long you drive for will help you determine what interval to set the GoPro on (if using that method).

Let’s say we’re taking a 30-minute car ride

A single second of footage requires 24-30 pictures. It depends on your preferences, but today’s standard is 30 frames-per-second (fps).

With that in mind, let’s say the following examples are using 30 fps for their frame rate.

A GoPro camera set at 0.5 second will take 120 photos in a minute. So in one minute you will have 120 frames and at 30 fps , you will have 4 seconds of recorded footage.

Now let’s say we’re driving for 2 hours

Pictures being taken every 0.5 seconds is going to be boring and will take up a lot of memory.

Instead, let’s set the interval to 5 seconds. In one minute, 12 pictures will be taken, which will translate to about a half-second of film. So in two hours, you get 48 seconds of footage for the your time-lapse video. It feels like a lot of work for a little result, but that’s the nature of time-lapse videos.

Now with this knowledge in mind, you can plan ahead if you’re going to shoot a time-lapse video over the course of a long road-trip. Depending on the length of your road trip and the intervals you shoot at, you’ll get different results.

Setting the interval at 10 seconds will result in 6 photos per minute. In five minutes you’ll have 1 second of footage; (6 x 5) / 30fps = 1 second of footage. Over the course of an hour, that’s 12 seconds, and over the course of 4 hours, that’s 48 seconds.

Setting the interval at 15 seconds will result in 4 photos per minute. It will take 7.5 minutes to get a single second a footage; (4 x 7.5) / 30fps = 1 second of footage. Over the course of an hour you’ll get 8 seconds, and in 8 hours you’ll have 1 min, 4 seconds of footage.

Some Things to Keep in Mind while Filming

Be aware of your surroundings and the amount of light coming in through your windshield. Too much can create a glare and ruin the footage. You may want to do some test runs at different times of the day. Also test out the different time intervals and figure out which works best for your video.

Once you are done, post your timelapse on social media and share it with us on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to see the results!

Photo Source: Shutterstock
Written by Jordan Rodriguez