We all know that action cams are versatile, having the capability of filming anything anywhere without worrying about it getting damaged!

One of the many features that action cams can do offer is time-lapse which we’ll be covering in-depth in this article!

Time-lapse is a very cool concept in videography and it’s used by many professionals videographers to make their videos even more interesting.

If you are new or do not know what time-lapse is, it is process where a video is played very quickly to achieve the lapsing effect, where time is perceived to pass very quickly.

Anyway, in this article, we’ll be covering the following:

2 Ways to Make Beautiful Time-lapse Videos

 

There are 2 main ways to film time-lapse:

1. Taking Photos

2. Filming Videos

Simply said, photo time-lapse is made by stitching photos taken at a regular interval, whereas video time-lapse is about fast forwarding a normal video.

If you’d like to know more about the difference between a photo and video time-lapse, such as when to use which or pros and cons for each, read more about it here!

How to Create Time-lapse Videos

You should either fall into 1 of these 2 scenarios.

  • Action Cam is capable to produce time-lapse video directly.
  • Action Cam not capable to produce to produce time-lapse video directly.

1. Your action camera can film time-lapse video directly

You would know if your action cam is able to film time-lapse if there’s a timelapse in the settings menu or a mode specifically for it.

Time-lapse settings in Explorer Pro
It’d look something like this (Explorer Pro Settings)

The interval in the settings is the frame rate of the shots or the interval between each successive frame. 

Certain kind of shots works best with certain kind of intervals, which more of it will be discussed below.

This is the simplest way of creating time-lapse videos as all you have to do for this is just set the interval, press the button and shoot and your camera does all the other work for you.

2. Not capable of producing to produce time-lapse video directly.

I believe most of you will fall into this category, where your camera does not have any time-lapse settings or function to film time-lapse.

If that’s so, you’d have to edit and create one for yourself. Don’t worry, it isn’t hard at all and almost all editing apps are able to do it.

As mentioned above, you have 2 options, photo and video time-lapse. Not quite sure about the difference between the 2? Read more here.

Creating Time-lapse From Photos – Photo Time-lapse

Requirement:

Creating Photo Time-lapse in SJ4000(Green and White) & Explorer Pro (Black and Yellow)

Able to take photos at a regular interval. This process basically stitches the photos taken to a time-lapse video.

Mac:

Easiest way by far, use Time-Lapse Assembler by Day of the New Dan because the app is entirely made for what we want now, which is to convert photos into time-lapse.

creating time-lapse videos from photos
Time-lapse Assembler Simplistic Main Screen

The steps are really easy and do not require any technical knowledge, which is what I really like about it.

  1. Copy and paste all your pictures you wish to include in the time-lapse into 1 folder.
  2. Your images should already be named in a sequential order; as long as it is A-Z (letters) or numerical (1-10), it is fine.
  3. Click “Choose” and select your folder directory.
  4. Click “Encode” and you’re done.

If you find your video playing too fast, go ahead and decrease the frame rate. On the other hand, if it’s too slow, increase the frame rate.

Windows:

If you do not have a lot of photos (fewer than 30), I think it’s fine to use basic software such Windows Movie Maker.

However, if you want the ease of not having to drag the images one by one, you’re better off with VirtualDub can automatically create a time-lapse from the images.

1. Configuring Pictures

Firstly, for that to happen, you’ll need your images to be sequentially named. It has to be numbered and no gaps are allowed in between (for eg. 2,4,6).

If it isn’t already sequentially named, sort the images in the correct order by selecting all the files (Ctrl-A), right clicking and renaming (Ctrl R) to anything you want (for eg. timelapse). All your images should be correctly named, for eg, timelapse 1, timelapse 2, etc now.

Secondly, it has to be the same size. For that, go to bulkresizephotos.com. Select all your photos and after you’re done, select an exact size (I personally use 1920 x 1080). Afterwards, click on Start Resizing.

All your photos should now be correctly named and sized.

2. Import photos

Go to File > Open Video File and select the first image. Make sure to check on the Automatically load linked segments on the bottom of the window to import all the other images.

3. Configure frame rate and resolution

Adjusting Frame Rate

To edit frame Rate,  go to Video > Frame Rate. If you’re using it for general use, 24 fps would be the best.

If you find your video too fast, go ahead and decrease the frame rate. On the other hand, if it’s too slow, increase the frame rate.

Resizing Video Res

Photos that you have taken might not be in a good video-friendly resolution, hence, we’d have to change the resolution.

To resize, go to Video > Filters > Add. Select the Resize Filter, select Absolute (pixels), enter 1920 x 1080 and click OK.

4. Export and Done!

To export, go to FIle > Save as AVI. Select your target destination and everything should be taken care of.

Creating Time-lapse from Videos – Video Time-lapse:

This is simpler because all you have to do basically is to fast forward the video.

Most softwares are able to fast forward videos. For this, all you have to do it increase the video speed and adjust accordingly.

Examples of editing softwares:

Windows:best free video editing software gopro

I personally like VirtualDub and thus I am going to use it for this example.

To create a timelapse using VirtualDub, it’s pretty straightforward.

All you have to do is to import the video, go to Video>Frame Rate and increase the frame rate.

Generally, if it’s a normal video that’s filmed at 30fps, you’d need to increase the frame rate to about 300fps, which effectively fasten the video by 10x.

If it’s still too slow, decrease the frame rate. Too fast? Simply increase the frame rate.

Mac:

what is the best video editing software for gopro imovie mac slow down video

For me, I like to use iMovie as it is simple yet effective, not to mention free! I will not dwell on the steps here as they are all written very clearly in this tutorial by Apple.

Tips in Shooting Time-lapse

Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s move on to how you can improve your timelapse shots!

1. Choosing the Correct Type of Shot

 

The video above shows an example of a good and bad timelapse.

Oftentimes, good timelapse are ones that are stationary and stable, whereas on the other hand, bad timelapse are very shaky and changes a lot (whole scene moves).

2. Panaromic Timelapse

 

Filming panaromic timelapse allows you to stand out from the rest as only professionals utilise this most of the times.

How a panaromic or panning timelapse is filmed is by using a rotating timelapse mount which rotates very slowly and steadily (1 complete round takes 1 or 2 hours), allowing you to take a very cool timelapse that pans!

3. Selecting the Right Interval

time-lapse guideline
Click here to see the full guide!

A good practice you should try adopting is to film using the right interval.

The guidelines are useful because if the time interval is set too high, it may be a little too repetitive and if set too low, it may look very choppy and rough.

Summary

Hopefully, from this article, you have learnt a thing or two about filming timelapse using an action cam you have!

If you have any questions or comments about anything, please free to leave a comment down below or click on the questions tab on the bottom right.

If there’s nothing else left, thanks for dropping by and have a great day! 🙂


–> If you’re interested to check out how you can easily improve your filming, click here <–

–> Check out my ultimate action cam guide here! <–

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7 Comments

  1. Hey there, Low!

    I never thought there would be so many ways to do a time-lapse video! I like the possibility to do that and I might try to experiment with time-lapse videos myself.

    After all, the information given in the post is more than enough to try, and the accompanying videos very very helpful.

    What’s your favorite way of making time-lapse videos?

    1. Hey Marios! It actually depends on the camera you have but if I had the choice, definitely cameras that produce time-lapse directly because you wouldn’t have to do anything else! 🙂

  2. Time Lapse is definitely an amazing addition to modern photography/filming. It’s just drop in the ocean in comparison to the amount of settings etc which one can apply.
    I’m still a total novice when it comes to photography and filming but, as an avid hiker, I would love to improve my knowledge and know-how.

    1. Hi Stephen, I totally agree with you! If you are interested in expanding your knowledge about photography and filming, feel free to go to the Tutorials Tab in the menu above, where you can learn more like slow-motion, fisheye correction, etc!

  3. Very informative and the guidelines / tutorials are useful for both novices and the experienced users of action cameras. It would be great if you can do an article about how to choose the correct ISO, depending on the situation. And maybe a tutorial when doing a timelapse that captures the transition from late evening to night time with special emphasis on ISO settings.

    1. Sure thing, thanks for the feedback!

  4. I use a trick from cel animators to create smooth time-lapse videos–ones where people don’t just suddenly appear and disappear, but move smoothly through the scene. Using a camera you can control the shutter speed, like a DSLR, select a long shutter speed. When you look at individual frames, moving objects are blurred until they become stationary. This blur provides the eye with the necessary tweeting frames for natural-looking movement. As a starting point, I’ve found a 1 second exposure taken every one second makes for a nice time-lapse video. (As a bonus, the longer exposure times gives you a higher f-stop at a lower ISO!)

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