30 Bucks – A Lens Cap Or Time Lapse Movies?

Alright, before we get started, I just want to say this post is way too long.  If you’re not interested in the jibber-jabber, but wanna see my bitchin little time-lapse movie,  just jump to the end.

$30 doesn’t buy you basically anything in photography.  Maybe a lens cap.  That’s the main reason I never bought a Timer Remote or Intervalometer before.  The Canon branded one costs about $150.  After reading up on how to make Time-Lapse movies on the awesome DIY Photography website, I did a little research and once again, it was Ebay to the rescue!

When my Taiwanese beauty arrived in the mail I was quick to bust it out.  You have a few options, but basically it comes down to:

  1. How long should I wait to start taking pictures?
  2. How long should I wait between shots?
  3. How long should I make the shots (or let the camera take care of it)?
  4. How many pictures should I take?

Want to read all about it and see the final movie?  Hit the jump and read on.

Before I go any farther, I should mention a couple things.  Some people don’t need to buy anything to do this.  Some cameras (Old Canon P&S, newer Nikons of many stripes) have this time-lapse functionality built in.  Many other Canon models can load some aftermarket firmware (void your warranty but unlock lots of extra features) that can do the same.  Lastly, there are ways to connect your camera to a laptop via USB or and use the software the ships with the camera.  There are even iPhone apps.  If you care, let me know in the comments and I’ll add more.  Somehow I think you’d rather see the outcome.

Steaaady: Ok.  So you got your camera and we’ll assume you’ve got something like the intervalometer I got.  You definitely want a tripod for this.  If you’ve got a ledge or something that might work, but your camera is going to have to sit awful still.

Framing: If you can get something in the foreground and background your end product might be more interesting but your focus is more difficult.  I used my wide-angle lens which has some pretty good depth of field.  If your lighting isn’t going to change a ton, the Av setting is great.  If it won’t change at all, Manual is even better.  Frame your scene, set up your little remote control doo-hickey and press start.  You can do whatever you like, but taking one picture a minute and taking as many pictures as you can seemed like a good plan to me.

Going the distance: Speaking of taking a lot of pictures, you’re going to need to think about some things you don’t usually think about.  The most obvious is memory card space, but if you’re going to turn this into a movie, you probably want to select your smallest image size or close to it, which should render that moot.  Battery is the other big issue.  If your lens is stabilized, turn it off (which you should do when using a tripod anyway).  Unless you really need to, turn off autofocus – do you really want it changing mid-stream?  Lastly, go into your settings and turn off the picture review on the LCD screen.  After doing that, my camera seems like it can burn through about a bajillion pictures – I haven’t exceeded 450 or so yet, but the gauge still reads full.

Making the Magic: Alright.  You took a bunch of pictures, right?  Pull them all over onto your computer.  Now you need some software to turn it into a movie.  There are many options, but I haven’t found anything as easy, straightforward, and… um… free as JPGVideo. Install that puppy and pick the folder with the pictures in it, where you want the movie to end up, and how many pictures per second you want.  TV is 24, and that seems to work pretty well for me.  You want your video longer?  Turn it down.  Straightforward, right?  The last option is what sort of encoding you want.  Choose DivX here.

The Final Results! Alright – somehow you got this far.  I suppose you want the payoff.  This is my first real attempt and I think it came out pretty nice!  I’ve uploaded it to Flickr, which means you’re seeing it at about 1/4 of the original size, so remember that when you do this at home, it can be pretty spectacular since every frame has the quality of a real photograph.  Here you go!
Here’s the final product:

If you have questions or comments, let me know.  This is pretty fun and I’m going to be doing some more work with it, so feedback is appreciated.

Definitely worth thirty bucks.  I’m just sayin.

Want to read all about it and see the final movie?  Hit the jump and read on.

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2 Responses to “30 Bucks – A Lens Cap Or Time Lapse Movies?”

  1. [...] thought my first attempt at Time Lapse came out fairly well.  All I did at the time was set it up and hit go.  Yeah… there were a [...]

  2. [...] been a long time since I put up a stop-motion video.  The first two I did were fun and had a nice view, but were mostly about the technology, not documenting [...]

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