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Build a DIY Rotating Time Lapse Tripod Head

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In this tutorial, I'll show you how to quickly and easily create your own rotating time lapse head for your GoPro or compact camera using a kitchen timer. It is a very low-cost project that mounts between your camera and tripod. It even looks great.

Watch the Tutorial

Determining Your Settings for Your Time Lapse

Many compact cameras and DSLRs have built-in intervalometers. An intervalometer is a firmware program or external device that allows you to tell your camera to shoot a series of photos with a predetermined amount of time between each image. The GoPro has this feature as well, and that's what we'll be using for an example here.

Most DSLRs and external intervalometers will ask you to input two settings. The amount of time between images, and the total amount of time you want to shoot. The GoPro makes it easier. It will just keep shooting until you tell it to stop.

The only tricky part is decided how many seconds or minutes you need between each shot. For our kitchen timer time lapse head, all you need to do is decide how long you want your video to be.

Let's say we want our final time lapse video to be 45 seconds. First, we need to determine how many frames of video we need to fill that time. There are generally 30 frames in every second of video. Therefore, we need 1350 frames to make our video.

It takes 60 minutes for our timer to make a complete revolution. That equals 3600 seconds.

Just divide your total number of seconds by the number of frames you need to get your interval.

In our case, 3600 divided by 1350 equals about 2.666. On a GoPro, you don't have the option of being this precise. You should always round the time down if necessary. So, we'll opt of a two second interval. This will give us more frames than we need, but that better than having too few.

If you only wanted to pan 180 degrees, then that would take 15 minutes on our timer. That's 1800 seconds. Let's say in this instance we only wanted a six second clip of finished video. Six seconds multiplied by 30 frames per second gives us 180 frames. 1800 divided by 180 is 10. You'd need to shoot one image every 10 seconds.

A Time Lapse Quick Start Guide for the GoPro

In order to do a time lapse on your GoPro, follow these steps.

Then use the menu button to navigate through the menu until you see “default power-up mode.” Hit the shutter button to choose between the options until you get to “photo every “x” seconds.”

Once again use the menu button to nave through the menu until you see “photo every “x” seconds.” Your options are 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, and 60. Use the shutter button to toggle between them. I think 5 is a good place to start.

  1. Use Menu button to get to the Setting Menu, then use the shutter button to enter the menu.
  2. Use the Menu button to get to the Default Power-Up Mode.
  3. Use the shutter button to get to the Photo Every X Seconds menu.
  4. Use the Menu button until you see the Photo Every X Seconds option.
  5. Use the shutter button to choose between 1, 2, 5, 10, 30 or 60 seconds.
  6. Hit the Menu button until you see the Exit screen.
  7. Hit the shutter button to exit.
  8. Restart your GoPro.
  9. Your time lapse will begin.

Remember that you'll need to change the Default Power-Mode after you're done so you can use your GoPro is standard video mode again.

Depending on your video editing program, there will be wide variety of different ways to assemble the separate frames into a video. This usually entails finding an "Open Image Sequence" setting, or something similar.

Go Shoot Some Time Lapse Footage

I hope this simple DIY and quick guide to time lapse settings has inspired you to create some of your own great footage.

If you've used these techniques in the past, please share them with us in the comments!

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