- Timelapse is a series of photos stitched together to create a fast-paced video that speeds up time.
- TimeWarp is a GoPro feature that applies stabilization to a timelapse, allowing for smooth footage from moving vantage points.
- Choose timelapse if your GoPro is stationary, and TimeWarp if it’s mounted on something that moves. Capture rates should be chosen based on the activity and desired video length.
GoPro is the quintessential action camera – but that action doesn’t have to play back in real-time. GoPro offers a few different tools to speed up video, called timelapse and Time Warp. While having multiple ways to condense a long action video into a few action-packed minutes of footage is great, the multitude of options also raises some questions. What is the difference between GoPro timelapse and TimeWarp? When should you use TimeWarp over a timelapse?
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Understanding when to use timelapse vs. TimeWarp is key to getting the most out of your GoPro camera. Here’s what GoPro users need to know to create epic speed-up videos.
What is GoPro TimeWarp?
While a timelapse is a technique not tied to any particular camera brand, the TimeWarp is a GoPro creation (hence the capital letters). Once you understand what a timelapse is, understanding a TimeWarp becomes even more straightforward. A GoPro TimeWarp is a timelapse with stabilization applied.
Unlike a mirrorless camera, a GoPro is designed to be mounted on anything from helmets to cars. If you take a timelapse from the top of your helmet as you complete a dirt bike course, for example, the result would probably be too shaky to use without giving viewers a hefty dose of motion sickness. By applying GoPro’s stabilization algorithms to a timelapse, GoPro makes it possible to create a stunning timelapse from a moving vantage point.
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GoPro didn’t invent moving the timelapse, which is actually called a hyperlapse. However, creating a hyperlapse typically involves either a gimbal or a very steady hand. By applying HyperSmooth stabilization algorithms to hyperlapse, GoPro makes it possible to shoot from unsteady vantage points, from boats to bikes.
What is a timelapse?
While TimeWarp is a GoPro-only feature, a timelapse is a common cinematic technique created well before digital cameras were invented. In fact, the first timelapse was created a few years before the first video. A timelapse is a series of photographs taken at the same interval and stitched together into a movie. The resulting effect is the opposite of slow motion: a video that appears to speed up time.
The time between the photographs varies – timelapse photos can be taken seconds, minutes, hours or even days apart. The longer the time between images, the faster time appears to fly by in the resulting video.
The most common frame rate for a timelapse is 30 frames per second or 30 photographs stitched into a one-second video. That means 30 photographs will only equal one second of video. If you take a photo once every minute, one hour will be condensed into two seconds. If you want a one-minute video, that means you would need to leave the camera running for 30 hours, which would require a power source to keep the camera’s battery from running out. That’s why taking photos seconds apart rather than minutes is more common for a timelapse.
When should you use GoPro TimeWarp instead of a timelapse?
Once you understand the difference between a timelapse and a GoPro TimeWarp, choosing which one to use boils down to a simple question: Are you mounting the GoPro on something that moves? Choose GoPro’s timelapse option if you want to record a speed-up video from a stationary tripod. GoPro’s HyperSmooth stabilization is unnecessary on a tripod. If you want to record a sped-up video from a moving mount, choose a TimeWarp.
What is the best capture rate for GoPro TimeWarp?
Because timelapse and TimeWarp speed up time, one of the most common mistakes when capturing one of these sped-up videos is not shooting long enough to get more than a few seconds of video. If you don’t choose the right capture rate, your GoPro could shoot all night long and only end up with five seconds of video to show for it.
GoPro writes out the capture rate in speed rather than the seconds between videos. For example, choosing 2x creates a video that’s twice as fast as a normal video, meaning the resulting video will be half the time you recorded.
GoPro recommends choosing a capture speed based on the type of activity you are recording. The faster the activity, the slower the rate. You should avoid the video being too fast to notice details. For example, if you are driving, try 2x speed; if you are hiking, try 10x speed. The auto setting will change the capture rate based on how fast the camera moves.
The other factor to consider is how long you will be recording for and how long you want the resulting video to be. Choosing a 30x speed may be too fast if you only plan to record for 15 minutes, for example. GoPro lists the following Capture Rates with their approximate recording times:
- 2x: One-minute recording creates 30 seconds of video
- 5x: One-minute recording equals 10 seconds of video
- 10x: 5 minutes recording for 30 seconds of video
- 15x: 5 minutes recording for 20 seconds of video
- 30x 5 minutes recording creates 10 seconds of video
GoPro TimeWarp and timelapse tricks
Depending on which GoPro you have, you may be able to do more than create sped-up videos with features like Real Speed, Speed Ramp, and Night Lapse.
Real Speed is a tool that allows you to switch from a TimeWarp to a real-time video and back again, writing both the sped-up video and the real-time video all to the same video file. If you are recording a TimeWarp and come on a scene that’s too good to speed by, use the toggle on the back of the LCD screen to switch to Real Speed. This feature is available on the GoPro Max, Hero8 Black, and later camera models, with audio recorded during Real Speed on newer Black models.
Speed Ramp is similar to Real Speed, only instead of switching from a sped-up video to a normal video, Speed Ramp switches from TimeWarp to a 2x slow motion. For example, if you are recording a mountain biking course but want to draw attention to a really epic jump, you can speed through the course but slow down on that jump using Speed Ramp. This is done by tapping the Speed Ramp icon, which looks like a speedometer, on the LCD screen during a TimeWarp. However, this feature is only available on a few models, including the Hero 11, 10, and 9 Black.
Want to create a timelapse of the stars moving across the night sky or even the Northern Lights? Instead of choosing the timelapse option, select Night Lapse. The settings on Night Lapse are designed to capture a timelapse in the dark.