It’s taken me awhile, but I’ve finally set up a good workflow for creating time lapse movies. The best part is, it uses all free and open source software.
- Gphoto2 for controlling and capturing images from a digital camera with a computer.
- ImageMagick for resizing, cropping, and otherwise modifying images.
- FFmpeg for creating a video from a series of images.
- Audacity (optional) for cutting music down to size to add to videos.
- I first capture images using gphoto2 over a specific period of time. I have an Ubuntu server that runs a script that calls gphoto2 to capture and save images on the computer. I use an AC adapter for my camera, since the battery is likely to run out over the course of a full day. I usually capture from just before sunrise to just after sunset, and I get my sunrise and sunset times from the Astronomical Applications Department of the U.S. Naval Observatory.
- Using ImageMagick, I resize and crop photos if necessary. At this point, I transfer the files to my Mac and I do the rest of the processing there. Since Mac OS X has Unix underneath, I can use the same tools I would use in Ubuntu, but also utilize my faster processor(s) and the extra RAM in my MacBook Pro. I find that my videos are better if I crop the images to focus on the interesting parts. Resizing after I crop will result in a smaller image size so the video encoding doesn’t take too long or result in an unwieldy (and unnecessary) video file size. If I were to use the full size of the images that come off the camera, I could easily create a video in quad full high definition (2160p), which is way past 1080p.
- I then use FFmpeg to create a video from the series of images. FFmpeg is finicky with its input file names, so sometimes renaming of the images is needed. This is necessary when there’s a gap in the numbering of the files.
January 18, 2008 in Westfield, MA
I’ve had this video up on YouTube for awhile, but I recently saw the new feature of adding your own sound track. It inspired me to add audio to this video. Of course, I didn’t want to take the easy way out and use YouTube’s lame audio tool, so I modified the last step in my workflow to include an MP3 with the video. I used Audacity to cut the Nine Inch Nails track “1 Ghosts I” off their album Ghosts I-IV. Since that album was licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license, I can use it here in my video.
December 15, 2008 in Chicopee, MA
December 17, 2008 in Chicopee, MA
December 19, 2008 in Chicopee, MA
About 40 seconds into this video, a snow storm starts and the parking lot fills up with snow. Then at 58 seconds, snow slides off the warm hood of a car. Kind of neat.