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Time Lapse photography


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#1 Philip J. Martinez SOC

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 07:30 PM

I’m looking for some advice on Time lapse photography.

I want to make a time lapse movie of my daughters public schoolbeing built. The project started today Friday May 21, 2010 and is planed to beready for students in the Fall of 2012.

looking at a 27month shoot but really less because I’m just doing the exterior building.

I have a good view from a 18th floor Apt. across thestreet from the site. (not mine)

I’m in NYC.

Thanks,


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#2 Mike McGowan SOC

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 09:24 PM

dslr (like a d5) in time laps mode. cheep, small, easy to set up and use. you can swap out cards whenever you get a chance.
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#3 Sydney Seeber

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 09:49 PM

I do time lapses all the time. If it were me, I'd get an older Nikon, maybe a D300, that you can set and forget. The reason I'd go that route is that interval recording is already built into the Nikon firmware, and you need extra parts to do it with Canon. If you don't care about the quality, you can also do it with countless small camcorders (Many of them have that option built in) cameras that you could just leave on a charger/power supply. The difference in quality between a DSLR and one of those cameras would be pretty significant though. The thing is, you've got a REALLY long time to work with. As far as an automatic timer, it might be easier to go with the external shutter controls that both Canon and Nikon make for their cameras, as that interval may be to great for the built in option... With such a huge time interval, you may even be able to do it manually.
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#4 Philip J. Martinez SOC

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 11:46 AM

Thanks for the replys. Any thoughts on how to figure out how many frames a day for construction? Any names of a company in New York that I could talk to and get a little training? I'd like to find someone to set it up and I would check in on it 2 time a month.
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#5 Brian Freesh

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 12:12 PM

This is more of a question than an answer, as I've never shot time lapse, but wouldn't the amount of frames per day depend on how long you want the video to be? If you took one frame a day for 27 months, the video would be under 35 seconds long. If you took one fame an hour the video would be over 13 minutes long. Keep in mind that at the end you can always take frames out, whether it's because you want to shorten the video or get past a month where not much happened visually, or another reason. Best to take too many than too few!
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#6 paul magee

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 03:19 PM

You might want to visit the Harbortronics website to get some insights on long term time lapse projects.
www.Harbortronics.com

I think they are a bit pricey for your project but you might be able to get a few ideas for what you're trying to do.
The problem with long term installs of time lapse equipment is the camera control programs and the upkeep of gear.
You don't want to shoot at night and on weekends, someone has to charge the batteries and swap out the cards and the gear needs to be kept
out of the elements.

http://digital-photography-school.com has a few pages on cheap time lapse projects that might help out.
If you have a nikon DSLR you could use a tethered laptop program like Sofortbild to set up interval shooting.

The P-cam app has a nice little time lapse calculator for estimating frame rates.

Good luck

Paul Magee
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#7 Ken Nguyen

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 04:20 PM

I would do the followings:
- Find the final spot for the camera.
- Set the tripod on a hard flat form (wood or ...)
- Frame the final shot.

- Use spray paint to mark the edges of the flat form on the ground.
(also find and record 1 or 2 reference points for the set up)
- Mark the tripod legs on the flat form.
- Record the focal length, focus of the lens.
- Mark & record tripod height.
- Mark & record the camera mounting plate.
- Mark & record the angle of tilt and pan.

Take a few pictures (photo in hi rez)
Come back to the 3 weeks or so later, set the camera up using all of the above records.
Take a picture; then load it in Photoshop and compare it with the previous photo; readjust the camera if necessary.
The picture will be a little different in size and angle from each other, but don't worry, you can align it in Photoshop or After Effect.

Try this, take the picture 1 hour later the next time you come to the shoot.
For ex: today at 8:00AM; 2 or 3 weeks later at 9:00AM and so on.
Then you will have a "whole day time lapse" (sun-rise-to-sun-set) of 27 months.

Have fun,
Ken Nguyen.
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#8 Sydney Seeber

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Posted 23 May 2010 - 12:17 AM

Any thoughts on how to figure out how many frames a day for construction?

If it were me, I'd just take one image per day. That's a pretty decent length for a timelapse. I'd set it up to record that single image at 12PM every day, as there's not much you can do about the seasons changing. I highly recommend against moving the camera. That never turns out well. Don't use batteries either... I'd leave it on a power supply. Who knows if it'll last that long, but it'd be fun to try
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#9 JobScholtze

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Posted 23 May 2010 - 10:32 AM

Any thoughts on how to figure out how many frames a day for construction?

If it were me, I'd just take one image per day. That's a pretty decent length for a timelapse. I'd set it up to record that single image at 12PM every day, as there's not much you can do about the seasons changing. I highly recommend against moving the camera. That never turns out well. Don't use batteries either... I'd leave it on a power supply. Who knows if it'll last that long, but it'd be fun to try


Sorry, but one frame a day is not the right way imo. You need at least 12 frames a day. Why? There are to many types of weather. Snow, rain, sun etc, and you will need some frames to make the transitions smooth. Otherwise it will go from snow to rain to sun to etc. Better to have to many then to short
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#10 Mike McGowan SOC

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Posted 23 May 2010 - 10:51 AM

id take more frames, not less... you can always speed it up in post, you can't slow it down.
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#11 Sydney Seeber

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Posted 23 May 2010 - 12:15 PM

You need at least 12 frames a day.

You're not going to notice 1 rainy day much. It's going to fly by at 1/30th of a second (Or 1/24, 1/25, depends on the final chosen frame rate) I mentioned 1 a day, because any other number will require a special timer or many more frames you end up throwing out. I mentioned noon because it's the time of day that changes the least throughout the seasons. 1 frame a day is going to play back at around a 30 second animation, depending on the frame rate chosen. That's a pretty decent length. Interval timers (There's a couple of names for them out there) work simply by triggering the shutter at specific intervals. In other words, if we were to use your 12 times a day, the shutter would release every 2 hours, making at least half of those frames unusable, as it would fire at night. (As with anything, there's a solution, but it will cost you.) During winter, clearly less would be usable... a minimum interval for that would be 1 frame an hour if you wanted close to 12 usable frames per day. So now you're talking close to 20,000 recorded images. Certainly a doable thing, but that will require some work on the part of the OP in that he'll have to change out media every once in a while, which I would recommend doing anyway. I mentioned 1 frame a day as a a starting point as it's the easiest option. More is nice sure, but it's going to get complicated pretty quick. You'll have to do a test to see if the camera can use auto iris (And maybe shutter) to give you a usable image at all times of the day, as manual is not an option. Shooting at noon alleviates this somewhat, but not entirely. One thing that might be pretty cool is that if one were to shoot 24 frames per day, the animation could be created in After Effects (Or whatever your favorite tool might be, Final Cut is not an option) to play back as starting in the morning and finishing up in the evening. That would take some time, but would be a pretty cool result.
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