Orquid "Phoenix"

Orquid "Phoenix"

by ceinmart

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I'm making a time-lapse video in a place with very low light conditions. Each photo has an exposure of 20 seconds and my camera take 10 seconds more to process the image. This means, 2 frames per minute, and 120 per hour.

If I want a frame rate of 30 photos per second, I will only be able to make 4 seconds per hour of photographing.

My camera battery will only last 2 hours as much, so the maximum lenght of the video would be 8 seconds. That is too few.

So, I tought I could make up frames between the real photos. If I make 1 "inter" frame, the total lenght of the video would be the double.

Do you know any software to do that easily? Is it possible to to that using imagemagick? Thanks!

EDIT* - In response to the comments

10 seconds (14 after I counted them) of processing time because my camera is not DSLR so the processor is slower (I'm actually using CHDK to increase the exposure time). I'm shooting in JPEG so the time to write in he memory card is less than a second.

About the external power supply, how to do that in a SX210 IS? Better battery, no money right now (I'm in college).

I want a video of at least 30 seconds (less is kind of boring). And I want a frame rate of 24 or more to make the video smooth.

About the inter frames, those would be the average between the frames in the left and in the right (it's fine because the subjects are mainly clouds).

Found out a great function of imagemagick

convert input1.JPG input2.JPG -average output.JPG

EDIT**

Thanks to jrista's answer, this is my last composition:

http://vimeo.com/19379589

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1  
Are you talking about duplicating the "inter" frames, or interpolating the frames from adjucent "intra" frames? –  ysap Feb 1 '11 at 0:47
    
Why the 10 second processing time? Can you speed that up, e.g. with a faster memory card? Why the 2 hour limit? Can you increase that with a better battery or an external power supply? Do you really need 30 photos/second? Have you tried 10? How long of a video do you want when you're done? 16 seconds, 16 minutes...? –  drewbenn Feb 1 '11 at 0:59
1  
Wow, 10-14 second seems like a very long time. Are you sure you don't have dark frame subtraction (chdk.wikia.com/wiki/CHDK_User_Manual#Dark_Frame_Subtraction) turned on (it doesn't sound like it, because DFS time should match exposure time, but I don't understand what else could cause a 10+ second delay)? If you do, just turn it off, take one dark frame photo when you're done (cover the lens with a hat; do it last so the hot pixels will all have finished warming up), and subtract the dark frame with software. –  drewbenn Feb 1 '11 at 5:14
    
It might be that, but since I'm not shooting in RAW, that option is disabled (AFAIK). Without CHDK, my camera let me take a 15s photo and the processing time is almost the same. It seems like Canon has a built in DFS function for long exposures... –  tomm89 Feb 1 '11 at 5:37
    
@drewbenn You were right, the DFS is enabled by default, but I managed to disable it with CHDK, the photo appears instantly after the shutter closes. It was weird for me, how can a DIGIC IV be so slow? Now the photos are superfast! –  tomm89 Feb 1 '11 at 5:47
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5 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

When it comes to time lapse photography, unless you intend to capture thousands of individual frames, you generally don't get enough frames to fill minutes of 30fps content. If you look at some of the best time-lapse photography work, either on Vimeo or in big productions like "Life" and "Planet Earth", you'll notice a common theme: Multiple time-lapse sequences are composed to create a full video. In the cases where you do have a time-lapse sequence that spans 30 seconds to a minute, it is usually created by setting up the necessary apparatuses and letting them run...for hours, days, even months.

I highly recommend taking a look at Tom Lowe's "Timescapes" videos. They are some truly superb time-lapse videos taken with a DSLR and a creative dolly system.

TimeScapes: Rapture

You'll notice that none of his sequences are particularly long, but the it is still an interesting composition of multiple time-lapse sequences, creating a minutes long video.

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That is a interesting point. A very long time-lapse would just be unattractive. –  tomm89 Feb 2 '11 at 3:15
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This question/answer on Superuser might be of interest to you.

The MVTools plugin for AVISynth performs frame interpolation. AviSynth (sourceforge) is a script based video editing tool. You define operations to perform in a script text file.

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I've got a very simple solution, one that will work quite well, and won't cost too much. Buy a second battery. Good time lapse photograph just takes alot of pictures, and if you need to get some more, well, that's just what it takes, so...

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Yes, but a second (or third) battery wouldn't help if I'm running out of battery in the middle of the timelapse. It'd be helpful in the case I want to start a new time-lapse right after the other. –  tomm89 Feb 4 '11 at 1:26
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This may not be the answer you're wanting to hear, but if you're even a little bit handy, it can be quite cheap to build your own external power supply. It really seems like you're thinking about taking the hardest possible route with the least chance of success (resorting to software interpolation in post) to solve a very easily solved problem (battery doesn't last long enough).

If I were in your shoes, I'd be looking at doing the following:

  1. Take a battery for your camera, pop it open (gently!), remove the actual battery and solder wires to the leads. Close the battery back up.
  2. Get a cheap Radio Shack DC - DC regulator
  3. Solder the bare leads to your new regulator
  4. Connect the other end of your regulator to a bigger battery source (say a motorcycle battery), or even attach it to a cigarette lighter adapter and simply use your cars battery via the cigarette lighter...
  5. Now you've got way more power than you'll ever use over the course of 1 nights timelapse photography.

Total cost for parts is going to be ~$20... Somewhat more if you go the route of buying a motorcycle battery. Of course the caveat is that you have to be the sort of person who is mildly handy (this is a pretty 101 level electronics project), and willing to build something. This is how I power my camera for my timelapses, and it's how lots of other people do it as well. Here's a thread with some more detailed descriptions (and pictures!) of a build similar to what I described above.

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Already tought about that, but I want something reversibly (not like soldering the bare leads), so I have to figure out a good way to do it. Probably make a piece of plastic with the same size of the battery, stick some contacts to it and take out the wires trough the middle of the "fake" battery. –  tomm89 Feb 1 '11 at 1:54
    
I think we're saying the same thing. Most people just buy a cheap Chinese knockoff battery for their particular camera. You can generally find 'em on eBay (and elsewhere) for pennies... –  Jay Lance Photography Feb 1 '11 at 1:59
    
If you're a student, check the policies on your school's circuits lab. At my college, students were allowed to use the lab, tools, components, etc. for personal projects. –  Evan Krall Feb 1 '11 at 21:15
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One option might be to take more (shorter) captures at a higher ISO, and compensate for noise by averaging the past N frames together, effectively overlapping the capture of each frame. You might want to apply some basic noise reduction, too.

As for generating intermediate frames after the fact, I've heard of a program called Twixtor which is supposed to do this intelligently. I've only seen one video done with it, but it looks like it does a reasonable job. As with any computer-generated content, your results will vary depending on the scene/video and how much information has to be guessed.

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That's a good idea, but I want something easier. Those frames can perfectly be generated with a codec so I'll see how to do it. And, twixtor doesn't have Linux version. –  tomm89 Feb 1 '11 at 1:59
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