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Time-lapse video


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A few weeks ago I got an idea that it might be fun to try shooting some time-lapse footage from my workplace. We have some nice views, and I notice that the shadows of and reflections off surrounding buildings are constantly changing during the day. I wondered what that might look like time-lapsed. So today I took my video camera to work, and left it running in "interval" mode all day (8 hours) pointed out one of the windows.


I came home and captured the footage into FinalCut and sped up the clip 24x real-time, so the 8-hour day goes by in about 38 seconds.


Click on the image to download the movie (7.5MB, 640x480, Quicktime MPEG4)


This is not the most interesting view, it was a kind of test-run to see if it works (I messed up the exposure a little), overall I'm happy with the results.


I'm planning on shooting different views and gather a collection together and maybe burn a DVD of them just for fun.

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This morning I set up another shot, here's a picture of the setup:



It overlooks the Palace Hotel sign next door to our office.


There are a lot of opportunities for other shots too, including the Bay Bridge. I'm hoping we get some interesting weather, like fog banks rolling through the downtown area, but it's been very clear lately.


If today's shot works out, I'll post more footage tonight.

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Originally posted by Failsafe@Sep 23 2004, 02:23 PM

Very cool stuff Ed! Can't wait to see more. How does interval mode work? Does it take a shot every few seconds?

Yeah, it has different settings for how often it takes a shot end how long each shot is. I have is set to take a shot every 30 seconds, and each one is 1 second long. So basically it shoots 2 seconds of tape per minute, or 2 minutes per hour.


Tonight I'm going to let it run overnight, so by tomorrow afternoon, I will have a 24 hour loop on a tape (48 minutes on the tape).

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OK, part II is done. This one's not as active, since it's not aimed at the street...although off in the distance you can see people scurrying about. One thing I like is the way the shadow of the words "The Palace" crawl up the building across the street and then onto it's roof. I might try doing a zoom-in on just that later.


Look for the guy who comes out on the roof to work on the air conditioners.



(click on image to download, 9.5MB, 39 seconds, Quicktime MPEG 4)


I also tried processing the video in this program called "Studio Artist" with an edge-detection filter...


(click on image to download, 8.5MB, 39 seconds, Quicktime MPEG 4)

It's cool to scrub back and forth through these quickly...


And tonight, the camera is pointed out one of the windows facing east, I stared it at about 5:45 and I will let it run through tomorrow at ~5:45 which should let me do a complete 24-hour loop...including tonight's sunset and tomorrow's sunrise.

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Part III is done. I had some trouble with the dirty glass on the building, which there's nothing I can do about. Right after dawn the sun shines on the glass and lights up the dusty film on the window. I'm still learning what works and what doesn't.


This one runs twice as fast as the previous ones, but it is a 24-hour loop.



click to download movie (14MB, 57 seconds, Quicktime MPEG 4)


It starts before dawn and runs through the day.

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BTW, I was totally wrong about the speed of the footage. The first 2 parts, from wed. and thurs., were actually ~750x real-time (not 24!), I was reporting the amount that I sped up the video in Final Cut, but I forgot that the original footage is already fast.


The last one above is twice as fast, or ~1500x real-time.


Thanks for the comments!

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Did a fourth one today. I had very high hopes for this, because we got some atmospherics today; fog, clouds, sun. The only problem is that the wind was strong, moving the clouds very fast...so fast that they moved far enough during the 30 seconds between 'exposures' that when you play it back the clouds don't look like they are flowing, instead they flicker in and out of the frame.


All is not lost, however. There's a clock in this shot, actually two of them side by side, and the spinning clocks are very cool. There's also a window washing crew somewhere in there.


The flickering light wreaked havoc with the MPEG compressor, making the middle part very pixelated, it got really ugly using the compression settings I have been using. In order to keep the quality up, I had to use less compression, so this movie is a lot bigger than the others:


(23MB, 41 seconds, Quicktime MPEG 4)



I'm also taping another 24-hour loop tonight.

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OK, Episode V is done. Not the most exciting one. It's a 24-hour loop, starting at 6pm on the 27th and ending today at 6pm. I took a gamble by focusing on the street, but after midnight not a whole lot happens on this part of Mission street.


I don't see any evidence that the camera moved during the earthquake, or not enough to change it's position.


(16MB, 55 seconds, QuickTime MPEG 4)



The building over to the left is under construction, so the lights that come on just before dawn there are the workers arriving in the site. The building at the top center is the Metreon which was built by Sony, the back part on the upper floors (above the trees) is a theatre complex, including the largest IMAX in the world (which is housed by the gray box at the top of the image).

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Just finished a new one. This is the first long-distance shot using the zoom, it looks over to the Potrero Hill neighborhood of SF. I like this one, it's got some interesting surprises that I will let you discover. This covers a 24-hour period from yesterday afternoon (around 2pm) until just about an hour ago.


(15.2MB, 1min long, Quicktime MPEG 4)


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