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Produce Time-lapse Animation on Your iPad

I wanted to share a recent find with you. At Macworld Expo I had the chance to speak with Boinx Software. They make several great apps for Mac and iOS devices.

They had just released their iStopMotion app for iPad… and it has a bunch of time-lapse features. The app ended up winning Macworld Best of Show award, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. The app is currently 50% off and selling for $4.99.

Let’s start with a sample of what can be done:

The Features

  • Time Lapse – Record automatically or at an interval.
  • Manual Controls – Control camera exposure and focus.
  • Instant Playback – Tap a button to see it playback instantly.
  • Remote Camera – Use the free iStopMotion Remote Camera app with an iPhone 4/4S, iPod touch (4th gen) or a second iPad 2.  Connect via WiFi to each other.
  • Share – Publish via email or on YouTube. You can also export your movies to a Mac or PC for further editing or archiving.

TechSpecs

  • iPad 2 or later (any model)
  • iOS 5.0 or later
  • iStopMotion Back Camera: 1280×720
  • iStopMotion Remote Camera: 1280×720
  • Format PNG uncompressed 1280 x 720 pixels
  • Frame Rate: 1 – 30 fps in 1 frame steps (default 12 fps)
  • Export Video Format Video: H.264.
  • Resolutions: Small (426×240), Medium (640×360), Large (854×480), HD/Full Size (1280×720)

A Test

I’m taking this app with me on the road and will post some test shots this week.  I highly encourage you to check it out though.  It’s a fun app.

Framing the Shot for Time-lapse Video

© Jim Ball

If you’re shooting time-lapse on a DSLR, there are two problems you need to address:

  • Sensor versus frame size
  • Overall composition

Sensor vs. Frame Size

Ultimately there is a key problem when it comes to shooting time-lapse on a DSLR camera.  The aspect ratio of the sensor will nearly always be different that the aspect ratio of your playback screen. With time-lapse photography you are shooting an image with a 3:2 ratio (as opposed to the delivery size of 16:9). You may want to mark your LCD or LiveView panel with tape or just remember the difference when you compose the frame.

Overall composition

Speaking of composition; be sure to set your frame to minimize unwanted action. Some moving elements in your frame will distract from your time-lapse shots. For example, if you are recording an action that dictates flowing/natural movement (such as clouds), frame out the more hectic elements of the scene like tree branches moving frenetically in the wind. If you are shooting in the city, perhaps shooting general urban activity, be sure to hide the camera from view or place it at a height that will prevent unwanted attention from gawkers staring into your lens.

Talking Time-lapse with Adobe’s Julieanne Kost

Richard Harrington talks to Adobe evangelist Julieanne Kost about making time-lapse videos in Adobe Photoshop. Learn some great techniques from a true Adobe expert. Be sure to check out her blog too for some excellent tutorials – http://jkost.com/index.html.

Joining Adobe in 1992, Julieanne has learned her craft through hands-on experience and now serves as the Senior Digital Imaging Evangelist. Spanning digital imaging and illustration, her role includes customer education, product development, and market research. She is a frequent contributor to several publications, a speaker at numerous design conferences and tradeshows, and a teacher at distinguished photography workshops and fine art schools around the world.

Kessler Philip Bloom Pocket Dolly™ Kit – Mini Review


I’ve used most of the sliders and other products aimed at helping video shooters, particularly DSLR video shooters, introduce fluid motion into their shots.

Some are better than others. Not surprisingly, you get what you pay for. The cheap, inexpensive sliders are usually not stable or smooth enough for my taste. They are also quite bulky and heavy. The high-end units tend to be plenty portable, stable and smooth, but many of them are simply not very user-friendly. I’ve written about this before. The folks who make grip gear are simply surprisingly out of touch with their audience. They send photographers a box which amounts to a bucket of bolts with a warm wish for success and expect the photographer to know how the thing goes together. Photographers who shoot video or time-lapse simply don’t tend to possess the experience with grip that most video people do. And I’ve been looking for a company that gets this. I found one – Kessler.

When I ordered the Philip Bloom Pocket Dolly™ Kit (Traveler Length) $1,095.95 from Kessler  I was pleasantly surprised – no make that shocked – to find out I didn’t have to put anything together. The dolly comes in a very nice, very compact, very well-made fabric case. Everything you need to get started is in this bag. The only thing you have to install is the strap on the bag. The pocket dolly itself is set up and ready to use right out of the box. THANK YOU KESSLER! I hope other grip makers take notice. This is the way to do it.

I also ordered the All-Terrain Outrigger Feet to add stability outdoors, and the motor and Oracle control system with all the trimmings necessary to automatically move the camera platform without human touch.

All told, the box came to $2640 and change. Spendy to be sure, but in my opinion, very well worth it. This is a portable, rock solid, easy-to-use slider that can fit in the overhead of any airplane. It’s quick to set up, comes with everything you need to both bolt it to a tripod and to mount a ballhead or other camera mount to the slider’s camera platform. If you just need a slider, this kit as is will do the job just fine with nothing to add.

The unit is surprisingly lightweight for as sturdy as it is. It includes a full-adjustable arc diameter handle and drag control so you can make moving the camera platform easier or harder to move. The Kessler people say the unit is designed to support camera systems up to 15 pounds. I used a Nikon D7000 with various lenses and never got close to the 15 pound limit.

I ordered this setup because I want to do time-lapse photography that includes motion. I wanted smooth, unattended operation so I included the motor. For those without the budget or the interest, the slider by itself will serve many purposes. If you’re going to use it primarily on a tripod, you don’t need the special outrigger feet either.

I have just experimented with the motor so far. I’ve spent more time just using the slider as is, without the motor and I’ll say without a doubt, this is one of the best compact sliders I’ve ever used. I also like the Cinevate sliders, but this particular Kessler product offers something I haven’t yet tried from any other manufacturer – i.e., a complete, user-friendly, ultra-portable kit that includes a travel-length slider and motor. It’s the perfect setup for remote or travel-based time-lapse work and I look forward to testing it more in depth later this year at Bosque del Apache.

Other than the price, I have nothing negative to say about this product. It works well, is smooth, stable, easy-to-use and transport and didn’t take a PHD rocket scientist to put together. Highly recombined.

SPECS

Traveler size

- Length: 29.5″ (74.9cm)
– Weight: 6 pounds (2.7kg)
– Travel: 23″ (58.4cm)

The Philip Bloom Signature Series Pocket Dolly™ comes as a kit with the following items.

- Philip Bloom Signature Series Pocket Dolly™ (Standard or Traveler)
– Self-Adhesive Measuring Tape
– Outrigger Feet
– Flat Mount Adapter (provides 3/8″-16 threaded mounting stud)
– Custom Padded Soft Case

(NOTE: This review is for the travel size. There is a larger unit with the following specs:

Standard size
– Length: 41.5″ (105.4cm)
– Weight: 7 pounds (3.2kg)
– Travel: 31″ (78.7cm))

GoPro Hero HD Camera

The GoPro HD Naked HERO Camera camera has been around for almost two years. I’ve had one for about that length of time. It is a sports camera meant to record HD video from just about any moving object: bikes, cars, motorcycles, skate boards – you name it.

I use the GoPro to record my trips around race tracks. Sometimes I put the camera in the car, but most of the time I put it outside the car. You can mount it to virtually any surface. In fact, I’ve never found any surface it won’t mount to.

It can be mounted to almost anything you can think of. Both GoPro and a host of third party companies make all sorts of mounts for the GoPro HD camera. I’ve recently successfully mounted it to the outside fender of my 2011 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport and raced multiple 100+ mile per hour laps at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Super Speedway Oval without the camera coming off.

In my most recent test, I placed the camera deliberately at a point on the car where vibration would be intense. I even mounted the camera in a manner so it was somewhat loose. I didn’t fully suction it to the car to see if it would come off. It didn’t.

The case is very rugged and even waterproof to 60 meters.

The camera offers a 170 degree view that makes it pretty easy to make sure you’re concentrating on the right subject matter. Everything is in focus. The camera operates using two simple buttons. Essentially – press one button to turn on the camera and one to start recording. The camera uses a standard SD memory card which fits into any SD card reader. The camera has a USB port that you can use to transfer data or charge the device.

The GoPro Hero does record sound although in situations like mine, where I often place it on the outside of a race car, the audio quality isn’t that great. On the inside of the car it does a decent job. But pro audio solutions like external field recorders are still preferred for great sound.

The internal battery delivers more than two hours of continuous recording time. Depending on the quality of your recording and the size of your SD card you can in theory, record more data than the battery can live to take in.

You can shoot up to 1080p or 720p if you want to do the slow motion capture stuff. The video is easy to edit with virtually any video software.

Here is a link to a sample video shot with the GoPro Hero HD Camera at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Looking at the video, it’s sharp, clear, has good color rendition. The sample clip attached to this post is from the recent Corvette run I described.

If you want to capture action footage, there’s nothing easier or cheaper.

Why post this here at Triple Exposure? There’s more good news…The GoPro Hero is great for time-lapse. You can record an image every 2, 5, 10, 30 or 60 seconds. The on-camera display shows three digits. The camera counter stops but the camera itself keeps shooting. It will shoot until the memory card is full or until you shut it off.

Give it a try – we’re certain you will like it.

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