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Old Jun 6, 2009, 3:53 PM   #1
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Default Variable Frame Rate HD Time Lapse Movie

I wish to make an HD quality time lapse movie of the view outside of my window. I have done some research and it seems like the best approach is to take a series of pictures and use a software program to combine them. I would have no problem doing this if I wanted to use a set capture rate...but I don't!

I want to vary the capture rate throughout the day. I want a short interval during the sunset, a medium interval during the day, and a very long interval during the night (not much to see, but I don't want to skip it). For example, daytime, 5am-8pm,1 image/min; sunset, 8pm-8:30pm, 10 images/min; night, 8:30pm-5am, 0.1 images/min.

Can you capture HD quality movies with a webcam or am I better off purchasing a DSLR? Is there a nice piece of software I could use to schedule the image capture as described above? Or am I going about this in the entirely wrong way?

If someone could describe how to achieve this I would be most grateful.

Mike
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Old Jun 6, 2009, 9:46 PM   #2
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Default Update

I have done some additional research since I posted earlier today. It looks like a DSLR is not a good choice for long term time lapse photography due to the shutter life. It seems that the preferred method is using a regular digital camera such as a canon powershot. Check out the following link for camera suggestions.... http://www.granitebaysoftware.com/TipCameras.aspx

This still doesn't solve my software/computer interface/timing problem. I have yet to find a software that will let me adjust the capture interval (and ideally image quality) based on a preset schedule.

Any suggestions or recommendations are greatly appreciated!
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Old Jun 6, 2009, 10:33 PM   #3
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What you are looking for is referred to as an intervalometer. Most are just a constant interval. Here is one that can hold up to 40 different programs, and the programs can be chained together. Targeted at slightly different uses, but it should work for your application.
http://www.bmumford.com/photo/camctlr.html
http://www.bmumford.com/photo/spec.html
It is going to take a bit of wiring, but it should be possible with this. The other option is to use a constant interval, and then delete frames.

dSLRs shutters do have a life time however it is 100,000 releases. P&S units are better in that they are essentially all electronic for the most part with little in the way of mechanical moving parts.

hope that helps....
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Old Jun 7, 2009, 2:59 AM   #4
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Default Helpful...but

Thanks for the recommendation. It does look like that intervalometer would do the trick but I am hoping to find a software based alternative (that is hopefully easier to program and cheaper!).

Although a shutter life of 100,000 releases sounds like quite a lot, it is just a little less than an hour of time lapse movie at 30 fps. I just did the calc and was very suprised...I guess I never realized how many frames are in a tv show or movie.

Does any know what the shutter life of a P&S is? Also, would a HD camcorder be an option to interface with a computer?

Again, thanks for the valuable input.

mw
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Old Jun 7, 2009, 10:36 AM   #5
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Morning Wigs, Your best bet would be to contact one of the software providers to see if any of them would be interested in "adding a feature" to their product. As indicated before, use a constant interval, or delete frames, is where the use model is now - which does not indicate that you do not have a good idea, but the majority of the users have not need the feature so far. Adding the feature you desire is not really that complicated, but it involves a change. There should be one that may be interested (product differentation), I would think.

On your other questions - the shutter life of a P&S does not matter in that a P&S does not have a shutter. The dSLR shutter is somewhat a left over appendage from film. It lets the light in to expose the film. With a CCD/CMOS sensor, it gates the light to the sensor, but in doing so it prevents the sensor from providing a "live view" to the user (a new feature being rolled out to the dSLR user community). In some of the newer hybrid dSLR models (Panasonic G1 and GH1), the viewfinder (shutter, mirror, pentaprism) are replaced with essentially a TV monitor (called an EVIL) in the viewfinder. dSLRs still use the viewfinder, since using a viewfinder enables the user to hold the camera much more steady, than holding it out in front of you (ie, a P&S).

You need to essentially apply the correct tool to the task. What your doing is more in line with a Camcorder, however the intervals are much slower, and more similiar towards a "still" camera. You are stuck right now in between the tool sets available - currently a no man's land. There are camcorders that support variable rates, and you need to go look. Most of them would probably slew either faster or slower (around 30fps), but you need to slow it down in to the 1 frame per second to 1 frame per hour area...

I would make a list of all of the third party remote control software packages available, give them a call and see if they are interested in adding a new feature. If so, then what ever camera set they support is your selection list. I will say, that most aim at Canon and to some degree Nikon. Google or someother search engine is your principal friend in this endevour. To your benefit, most of the companies will be small - hence the person answering the phone is probably sitting next to the CEO, Chief Programmer, and Head Dishwasher of the firm, thus the answer should be easy and somewhat fast to get. I would suggest that you put another 5 minutes of thought into it, write it down, so that you are able to explain the new concept clearly, and think through any "additional" implications. You are only going to get one shot per software package, so you need to make each one count (since there are probably only a handful - less than a dozen).

hope that helps....
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Old Jun 7, 2009, 11:23 AM   #6
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Default Very Helpful

That was very helpful.

I'll try and write up a concise script with what I want and I'll keep you informed of my progress.

Thanks!
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 7:17 PM   #7
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I suggest you use one of the Canon Powershot cameras - I use a Canon Powershot G10 - these can be purchased quite reasonably from Ebay....

On these cameras you can use the CHDK scripts (search on the Web for it) and you can amend one of the existing Intervalometer scripts to add the features you require eg. to vary the frame rate of the Timelapse over time......
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