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Time Elapse Video Taping

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Time Elapse Video Taping
on Jan 7, 2008 at 7:31:04 pm

Does anyone have any experience with Time Elapse Video. I have to tape 2 hours of a parking lot filling with cars and speed it up to 1 to 1.5 minutes. I was curious as to a good camera to rent, if there will be a problem speeding it up after it's been taped and does a distance
of 50-100 feet have any effect.

Thanks very much

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Dave LaRonde
Re: Time Elapse Video Taping
on Jan 7, 2008 at 11:42:03 pm

Well, let's do some arithmetic....

Two hours of video collapsed into a minute and a half would be 120/1.5, which is 80. You need your video to be 80 times faster.

So if you're working with a locked-down, , no-autofocus, no-autoiris kind of shot... and you have a triggering mechanism... you could use a still camera to take a picture every 2 seconds and 20 frames, no time-lapse camera needed.

You'd wind up with 2700 pictures, so you'd have to keep that in mind, too. The benefit: you'd wind up with big pictures, so you could pan & scan on 'em after the fact to make it look like you were panning & zooming. Pretty cool.

But there are some pretty inexpensive video cameras that might do the time-lapse trick, too. I think a Canon XL2 might. Check out the Panasonic HVX200, too.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer

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Matte Blume
Re: Time Elapse Video Taping
on Jan 8, 2008 at 2:51:57 pm

[Dave LaRonde] "But there are some pretty inexpensive video cameras that might do the time-lapse trick, too. I think a Canon XL2 might. Check out the Panasonic HVX200, too"

The cheapy camcorders can't do single-frame time-lapse (rather, they record a "few seconds of tape" at a time) and they don't have much adjustment of the length of time between "exposures."

Using a digital still camera with software to trigger it, is the least expensive way to go.

The new Sony XDCAM PMW EX 1 HD Camcorder does offer single-frame time-lapse ($6,700 price-tag for the camera, when available.)

There is also computer software that will record single-frame time-lapse directly to the computer from the FireWire of any video camcorder.

Here's a link for one such (Mac) product:

Do a Google search for more info.

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Mark Suszko
Re: Time Elapse Video Taping
on Jan 8, 2008 at 9:23:27 pm

Just a small correction... I have a "cheapie" consumer DV camcorder from JVC in the $300 or less range, it will do stop-motion as well as time lapse, to a digital card in the camera, duration is only limited by the card size.

I used to do stop-motion 2 ways, by speeding-up conventional footage in multiple passes thru the decks using dynamic tracking, or by setting up an edit controller as an intervalometer. Hard on the tapes and record heads, but the nice thing about taping in real time is you preserve an archive you can go back to.

Early versions of Premiere had a built-in intervalometer capture function as part of their digitizing window; you could set a tape source or camera feed running in full manual, tell Premiere how often to grab a bite of two frames, and walk away, and come back to a bin with essentially a finished time lapse already on it. I don't know if the latest Premiere has that, but there may be such a capture utility in the new software Adobe bought from Serious Magic and renamed OnLocation. Worth checking. There is a similar mac based program out now too.

Nowadays, if you can spare the storage space for it, and skip tape for a Firestore or Citidisk, you could digitize eight hours into the drives and then just apply a speed increase to the timeline, record the output, done. However, I can't remember an automated NLE capture session that went more than three hours unattended without a hiccup of some kind.... I believe Firestore may now include intervalometer settings in it's menu choices.

A digital stills cam with a built-in or clip-on rented Intervalometer can grab higher-quality stills, which, as has been said, allows you to later zoom in and pan around on the stream of images on your timeline. This is usually the best way to go IMO for overall quality at least cost, you are essentially shooting hi def if the still cam is more than what, five MP?.

For conventional video cameras with a firewire port, you can hook them to a laptop running scenalyzer or another shareware/freeware stop-motion/time lapse software, and set the grab rate you want. To get the camera to not do it's auto-off powersave function, sometimes leaving the loading door open defeats that function, other times you need a menu setting.

At my work, we have had great luck on remote time lapse jobs using Axis brand web cams which automatically take and transfer nice jpegs to a remote location via a built-in server in the camera. You just need power and a phone line. Transfer the stills to storage on a regular basis, because if the camera server's power gets interrupted, it will lose the cached images in it's memory and re-start with a new picture number 0001.jpg, etc. We shoot the creation of the State Fair Butter Cow in time lapse every year this way, and it's a big hit with viewers, I would go so far as to say a "moooving experience".

And if the location is really remote, a Colorado outfit sells webcams with a cell phone modem and solar panel that can get you a stream of stills at most any rate down to about one every ten seconds, long as you're within reach of a cell tower's coverage.

You will want to practice before you commit to the actual job. Most of your camera settings will have to be set manually, you'll need security for the gear, reliable AC power and a very well damped tripod that won't be jostled by wind, etc. If you want to do really huge panoramas, like 360 degrees over a full day, consider using the tripod and clockdrive of an astronomy telecope, hooked to a lipstick camera or the digital stills cam.

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Tad Moore
Re: Time Elapse Video Taping
on Jan 29, 2009 at 12:09:44 am

Dave...interesting response, the math I followed but the equation was too tricky. How would a guy who wanted to capture weather fronts, or any event that would last much longer than 2 hours go about it? Thanks..T

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Peter Roof
Re: Time Elapse Video Taping
on Jan 24, 2008 at 6:02:30 pm

I've been using the Panasonic HVX200 with excellent results. I just saw the post and you may have a solution by now. There are considerations as to mounting positions, changing light/weather conditions, etc. If you use the P2 cards calculate the total time you can record then factor the exposure interval to put the entire event (with pad) onto the cards. You can speed it up more in post. Sample: (scroll down to Douglass Bridge)

good luck,

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