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Have a big mess in a room and want to make a timelapse video of the room cleanup, watching the mess disappear and room getting cleaned. The mess is really big so it will take several X-hour sessions distributed over several days or even weeks to clean the room completely.

The shot can take different perspectives:

1)

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2)

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3)

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4)

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I am complete newbie to timelapse video, so I wonder how to make this happen and if there are any caveats and things to watch for in this particular scenario (since most timelapses are done outdoors).

In particular, I have several questions:

  1. How big time interval between pictures. Of course depends on the speed of my clean up. There are parts of the room where the change will be seen very quickly - it can change drastically in 30 minutes, in other parts it will take a lot more time to make some change. So I guess the time interval would range from 30 seconds to several minutes, right?

  2. One perspective shot with tripod or multiple perspectives shot hand-held? I have two options: a) choose one perspective and then use tripod and Magic Lantern (I have Canon EOS 700D), or b) every once a while shoot hand-held from different perspectives. The advantage of b is that I will have few timelapse videos from different angles. The disadvantage is that hand-held shots will differ a bit in perspective between any single shot (see question 3). Also, it would bother me to have to make this shot every minute or so!

    The problem with setting a tripod is that it would be only comfortable in perspectives 3 & 4, otherwise it obstructs in the doors.

  3. How to handle slightly different angles. Since the clean up will span over multiple sessions accross multiple days or weeks, there will probably be slight differences in perspective and angles even with using the tripod. Even if the tripod is set up permanently (which is possible only for perspectives 3 and 4), one can expect slight movements or shifts between sessions that would result in slightly different shots.

    This would probably require some transformations of the images so that they fit together - is the timelapse software able to accomplish this?

  4. How to handle different light conditions over time (exposure, white balance etc.)? Since the cleanup will be done within the span of several days or weeks, there will definitely be different light conditions accross the whole video. The daylight will have different intensity when sunny or cloudy. Also, sometimes I would clean the room in the night while enlighted with a bulb.

    How do you recommend approach this issue? Is it good to set constant manual exposure during one session? Or aperture priority mode in case the light changes during session (sun/clouds). Is it essential to avoid mixing daylight with bulb light? Etc.

  5. How to handle the contrasts. The perspectives 1 & 2 have window in the shot, so there is huge contrast between shadows and the window. Do you recommend to use dual ISO feature for these perspectives?

  6. Which perspective do you like most, from artistic point of view? I think I like perspective 3 the most, since the scene is not broken by window, and I prefer perspective 3 over 4 because 4 is too much "view from above" with nothing really close in the front. It lacks the feeling of being burried inside of the mess, which is present in perspective 3 :-)

  7. Any other caveats or things to be cautious about? This will be my first timelapse so I will appreciate any related advices, even when not asked explicitly above. Thanks a lot!

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    An additional option for perspective would be from a point where the camera would slowly pan over the course of the timelapse to cover the whole room, adding visual interest. This could be especially effective if the cleaning starts at one end. Easier if you have a panning tripod head, of course... – junkyardsparkle May 23 '16 at 19:21
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  1. I guess you want to have pictures every few seconds. You can just divide the overall estimated time to tidy up by the number of shots you need for the final video length and that will be a good basis for your time interval.
  2. Handheld will be a big issue since a correct alignment will be extremely difficult up to impossible. I recommend to borrow 2 more cameras (e.g. GoPro's) and have 2 of them in fix locations and the third one on a tripod that changes the position to follow the action, e.g. placed some hours in one corner and then in the other, to get some “close-up” material. With these, you will be able to make your final video more interesting by changing the views.
  3. The changes between sessions will as well have the same issues as explained in 2. With simpler cameras such as GoPros you could probably find a more durable solution, e.g. by nailing a wooden board to the wall and placing a cheap GoPro mount on this board. This could stay there between sessions.
  4. Night may be a problem since the light of the bulb may not suffice for reasonable shutter times. You could anyway need higher ISO settings since the light through the windows may not be enough. On the other hand, I would try to utilize the changing light conditions to place perspective changes (e.g. change between cameras) between the sessions (but not only there).
  5. Yes, that makes perfect sense. For the video you do not need the full resolution, therefore you will hardly see any negative effects from dual-iso. However, I would recommend to practice dual-iso beforehand, since a lot of experience is needed to operate it well.
  6. I would skip this question and do several perspectives by borrowing some cameras. Even camera phones with timelapse app may help, and these could easily be placed accurately over several sessions, if you construct a proper mount, e.g. from some wooden boards.
  7. Practice a lot beforehand since good time lapses require a lot of experience. Try “filming” a typical day in the office or your weekend activities etc. This will help to get something useful later.

I wonder if there are really several session required, it looks like it should be done in a couple of hours, if you do not have to do it alone.

  • Thanks a lot Chris! I don't have resources to buy another cameras, but thanks for the idea with SmartPhone! Would be a bit tricky though, since the phone doesn't allow fixed exposure. Anyway: 4) would you recommend to use full manual (M) or Apeture priority (A) for changing light conditions within the session? 6) I will probably end up with just one camera, what do you think of composition 3? Thanks a lot!!! – Curious May 23 '16 at 13:14
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    Aren't there camera timelapse apps that allow fix exposure? Anyway, I would still try and see what the software deflicker modes can correct afterwards, I heard these are quite sophisticated (magic lantern itself has a lot to offer in terms of deflickering, and I think darktable uses it as well, and there will be more options I guess). M vs A is hard to say, better test it beforehand. Maybe go with M and auto ISO, since long, changing, shutter times may be noticeable in the video. Composition? 3 solves the HDR, but I don't like the distortion of the poster. I cannot tell, maybe someone else? – Chris May 23 '16 at 16:24
  • And, I meant not to buy a new camera but to borrow from a friend (or, if that would help, a rental company). – Chris May 23 '16 at 20:13

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