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Time lapse of a plant growing

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Eric Nicastro
Time lapse of a plant growing
on Mar 15, 2010 at 4:48:16 pm

A friend of mine is growing bamboo in his garden. This particular type grows nearly a foot a day up to about 20 feet. I want to capture this on a time lapse but really have no idea the best way to go about it. I've done some time lapse work before but never something of this duration (could be up to 20 days) and of this size (could be up to 20 feet). What are your suggestions?


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Time lapse of a plant growing
on Mar 15, 2010 at 5:24:58 pm

Decide how long you want the time-lapse to be. Pick a frame rate. You'll then know how frequently you need to grab a still. You'll also need to plan how much and when to begin a tilt up if you shoot tightly.

Or you could shoot loosely in the highest resolution possible, and animate the camera moves in After Effects.

Unless you can control the clouds, you will have exposure issues over the duration of this shoot. When people do a time lapse of a flower blooming, for example, they shoot in a studio where the lighting is consistent.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Mark Suszko
Re: Time lapse of a plant growing
on Mar 15, 2010 at 6:14:03 pm

Boinx istopmotion will also do time lapse, run it from a firewire or usb-enabled still or video camera. This is a plug and play solution, see their web page for examples.

I would say use a digital SLR for this, plugged into the boinx software, but any digital still camera of 2 megapixels or better will give you a nice result, and you can even use webcams. Put everything on a backed-up AC power supply. Some DSLR's have an intervalometer setting built into them already, maybe you're lucky and have one.


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Stephen Smith
Re: Time lapse of a plant growing
on Mar 15, 2010 at 10:36:02 pm

I would go with the DSLR, shoot in the biggest size. That way you could be well over 3 times the size of HD. That way if the tree doesn't go as tall as you think it will you can zoom in on the content.




Stephen Smith
Utah Video Productions

Check out my Motion Training DVD

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Richard Crowley
Re: Time lapse of a plant growing
on Mar 22, 2010 at 3:51:03 am

Here is a third vote for using a DSLR rather than a traditional video camera. There are many reasons why: better and cheaper are primary.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Time lapse of a plant growing
on Mar 22, 2010 at 8:34:39 pm

The other is that, unlike using the DSLR with a buch of add-on gear to shoot motion video, you are just using the still camera as it was initially designed to be used: to shoot single frames, BIG. Stack those frames together, you have the time lapse, and you've captured it in a high enough res that you can pan and zoom around in the composition in post to fine-tune it.


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Stephen de Vere
Re: Time lapse of a plant growing
on Mar 25, 2010 at 1:32:07 pm

For a perfect result you need to cover the entire site with a tent to exclude natural light, and put in lights - a growing light set and a shooting (flash) light setup to take the frames.
That's how they do outdoor insitu jobs where you can't grow the thing in a studio against a blue screen.
Which is why it's not done very often on something tall like a bamboo tree !


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