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 a difficult project 
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Joined: Sat Sep 13, 2014 12:12 pm
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Post a difficult project
Hello everyone!

I'm new on these forums and timelapse aswell. In fact I do not even own a proper camera. So I am basically 100% green but to complete this project I will buy all the neccesary equipment after figureing out what I need.

Inside this area you see in the picture below will be about 150 different plants. They will be small. All of them under 1 meter (3 feet). The area is about 7x7 meters (23x23feet). The plants are about 40 cm (1-2feet) apart. I want to make an individual timelapse for each and everyone of the plants. The timelapse will be long, I want to catch the foliage colour changes throughout the whole growing season, from budbreak to leaf drop, April-November. Infact, having the winter months of dormancy would be a bonus too.

Image



The timelapse photos must be of very high quality, the picture below is an example of what it could look like.
Image

Any thoughts on how to accomplish this project of mine? Without buying 150 cameras, 150 tripods and 150 intervalometers. :)

All the best,

Stefan


Sat Sep 13, 2014 12:48 pm
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Post Re: a difficult project
Gotta learn to crawl before you can run.....

Why do you need 150 sequences of the same plant? I can't answer how to do this sorry and of imagine its a very complicated answer..

Have you read this ?

viewtopic.php?f=40&t=1871

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Sat Sep 13, 2014 8:58 pm
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Post Re: a difficult project
It is not the same plant. There are 150 different plants inside the area. Not one is like the other. Those plants change their colour throughout the season. Taking a picture of a plant in May would only represent what it looked like at that exact time, because the colour of the foliage in July for example could be totally different. Hence I thought timelapse was the perfect solution.

I have read the FAQ, thank you for the link and thanks for the reply!


Sun Sep 14, 2014 11:24 am
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Post Re: a difficult project
Are you aware of the problems that changes in light and wind conditions from day to day will cause?


Sun Sep 14, 2014 8:19 pm
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Post Re: a difficult project
Tom Lapse wrote:
Are you aware of the problems that changes in light and wind conditions from day to day will cause?


Yes I imagine it will be very troublesome. I don't know how to do this or if it's even doable at all. That's why I'm asking for help on this forum.

Perhaps there could be a function of the camera to only take a shot if it is sunny weather. Or perhaps it could take many shots everyday to make sure to catch one with light? I don't know. Regarding the wind, this area is very sheltered, many days the plants won't move at all.


Mon Sep 15, 2014 12:54 am
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Post Re: a difficult project
To use only one camera, the camera must move to each plant in turn or the each plant must move to the camera. The first option could be acheived using a "large" X-Y axis rig, the second :(
Further lighting problems in the form of shadows being cast by the rig and through the differing position of the sun over time would also need to be overcome.
Needs some exceptional lateral thinking, good luck with the project or maybe a jib and track. Good luck and be sure to post the results if you are successful.

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Mon Sep 15, 2014 1:44 am
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Post Re: a difficult project
Get the highest resolution camera you can get 23meg plus and shoot wide. Then break down each shot frame into 1080 hd images . Not sure how many 1080 you would get out of a 23meg image . You may need to focus stack to . But to be honest most high quality plant timelapse you see are actually done in a studio with very controlled conditions
D1


Mon Sep 15, 2014 7:14 am
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Post Re: a difficult project
This isn't a good project for your first timelapse. In addition to the special problems posed by the changing, uncontrolled lighting and the motion control requirement of moving the camera around to cover each plant every day, too much time will pass before you see the results. You need to do some short term stuff so you can learn from mistakes. Long term timelapse is a pain because you spend a whole season or a year before you see the result and only then do you realize the simplest of changes could have made it so much better.

Try timelapsing that grow area as the sun goes by during one day so you see the moving shadows. At least you'll get some experience with the camera and timer. If you have your long term power supply (a UPS, a voltage converter and coupler for the camera battery compartment) try using it.

When you think you have it running well, try timelapsing a week or two. Hopefully you will see some cloudy days with no shadows and sunny days with sharp shadows. See if you can do something about that when you edit. Some people have had some success by blending frames from several adjacent days into every frame in the movie.

The other option is to setup indoors under artificial (controlled) lighting. Mike's idea about a big X-Y dolly could work nicely indoors. You could mount parallel tracks high on two opposing walls to move in X and a cross beam carrying the Y between the two X-tracks. Covering the ceiling with big, diffused lights would minimize shadows cast by the rig no matter where it moved. You could even have light panels all around the perimeter of the room just below the tracks for the X-axis movement.

Here's a great example based on Lego. It also has "the elevator" and focus.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDXDevPtEbs

I love that thing more every time I see it.

D1's super definition solution is probably easier. I make and sell the best focus motors for timelapse. If you want one for focus stacking or a moving rig, check out our online store or PM me. Here's a link to the store.

http://www.stepoutmoco.com/

Use the "shop" tab to see the individual products including focus motors. We also have a small focus motor with built-in driver which is so new its not in the shop. PM me or email Sciencelookers@aol.com for info on anything related to focus and zoom motors


Mon Sep 15, 2014 7:27 am
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Post Re: a difficult project
Ps This explains things much better than i ever could .
http://gigapan.com/


Mon Sep 15, 2014 10:52 am
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Post Re: a difficult project
Difficult project is putting it lightly.

I have a question that i dont think has been answered

Why are you doing this?

The reason I ask is because the concept of what you are doing is going to fight you every inch of the way, if this is for data collection, there would have to be a better way. If you want something that is sort of a "Gee qizz that looks cool" then this is probably not the best way to go about it. How smooth does the timelapse need to appear?

You can build an XYZ gantry and develop the control system and code, you can learn to do this yourself, fork up a small fortune to have somebody develop it, or, you can find a better way to acheieve your goal.

Biggest issue i see, is this is outdoors. This means you will not get ANY sort of consistent lighting, you have to weatherproof your entire system, and even the slightest breeze will cause problems.

I have focused all my timelapse efforts for the past year into my Biolapse project, www.biolapse.com which includes some long term plant timelapse, anywhere from 2 to 14 days of shooting per small clip. Even knowing how to design systems, write code, and build the automation it has been a ton of time, energy, and money to get my systems and techniques down to where i can produce acceptable plant timelapse.

So i probably sound like a big debbie downer, which is not my goal, i LOVE a challenge, and what you have here is a major undertaking in time, money, and resources.

I think thgis is one of those problems that will not be best handled head on, rather, look at the end result and figure out a way to accomplish it. There are a million ways to skin the same cat. I would imagine if a company with the talent, engineering team, and financial backing such as the BBC were going to takle this, they would be looking for a way to make it look like you did what you want, because to do it the way you are asking is only going to result in very jittery timelapses full of spazzing plants and heavily flickering sequences

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Mon Sep 15, 2014 12:23 pm
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Post Re: a difficult project
Jack is right. All the timelapses of plants you see on television were made indoors with artificial light.
They trick you by showing regular video of the forest where they gathered the plants, then cut to the timelapse of them growing indoors.
In addition to the changing lighting, wind causes the plants to be in a slightly different position for each frame in the movie, resulting in "vibrating plants, which are very stressful to watch. You will not get beautiful timelapse of growing plants outdoors.

If it helps, I tried a similar thing when I was starting with timelapse. I wanted to be the first person to timelapse a tree growing from a sprout to a full sized tree. I wanted to timelapse every kind of tree that grows around here, all at the same time. I used cheap point and click digital cameras which had very bad resolution back then. In addition to the bad cameras, I had the wind and the changing light to deal with. I'd like to try it again sometime with better cameras, possibly indoors in a greenhouse environment like the Eden project in England. Here is a link to the video I made before deciding I had to do something else until i could find a better plan. (anyone with a large greenhouse wanting to cooperate, PM me)

https://www.flickr.com/photos/sciencelo ... wTT-7PqDwJ


Tue Sep 16, 2014 5:56 am
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Post Re: a difficult project
stiffstrav wrote:
Tom Lapse wrote:
Are you aware of the problems that changes in light and wind conditions from day to day will cause?


Perhaps there could be a function of the camera to only take a shot if it is sunny weather. Or perhaps it could take many shots everyday to make sure to catch one with light? I don't know. Regarding the wind, this area is very sheltered, many days the plants won't move at all.


I don't know of any camera that's capable of that. You'd probably need a separate sensor connected to the camera. Or 150 cameras.

As for wind, your inexperience is showing. It takes just the tiniest breeze to move a plant, and even the smallest imperceptible movement will spoil the time lapse. There's a reason why plant time lapses are done indoors.

I have to say, though, that I like your pallette fence.


Tue Sep 16, 2014 8:44 am
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Post Re: a difficult project
These cameras are cheap and do a pretty good job of adjusting for changing light. Try a couple of them for a few months, then look at the movie it makes. The results will explain any problems to you in a visual way. Then you can adapt your technique to eliminate any problems you see. We'll be here to help with specific questions once you see the results. I'll be curious to see how well this can be done outdoors.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Brinno-GardenWa ... 20ebf13306

If you can shoot just before sunrise, the illumination will always be diffused so there will never be the problem of sharp shadows on clear days and diffused light on cloudy days. There is less wind in the early morning too. One frame per day gives one second of timelapse every month, 12 seconds per year. You are right about needing multiple cameras or a moving camera to accumulate enough footage to do much with. I'd love to get a group of people interested in this kind of timelapse. This forum has members on every continent and in every climate zone. If a few of us did some long term stuff with just a few cameras each, we'd have the makings of a really cool documentary.


Tue Sep 16, 2014 10:28 am
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Post Re: a difficult project
Thanks for the feedback.

I'll definitely try to do some short term timelapses before I start this project to get the hang of it.

Jack Ripper:

The timelapse has to be smooth. And of high image quality.

As to why I'm doing this;

I'm not really interested in timelapse at all, or even photography for that matter.

I have plans to start a nursery of sorts and let's just say I wanna take it to another level. So I have a vision of what I want it to look like, and achieving this goal, to me, would mean a huge differance. And that's what motivates me.

I understand the big impact "small breezes" have on plant timelapses now. And why plant timelapses always are done indoors. But surely there should be some software that could fix the flickering and the lightning problems in a timelapse?

Building a large X-Y axis rig sounds like a plan B to me. I'd much prefer to try a simpler solution.

The system won't just need to be weatherproof, this area is regularly irrigated in the summer :P

Is it possible to mount the camera at a distance, make it shoot wide and catch the whole area in one shot, make a time lapse of it. Then after that break down (edit) this "large time lapse" into one for each individual plant (by cuting one plant at a time from the video?)
Is there any camera capable of taking such high res pictures to make the crops of the plants still look very highly detailed?


Stefan


Tue Sep 16, 2014 12:13 pm
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Post Re: a difficult project
stiffstrav wrote:

Is it possible to mount the camera at a distance, make it shoot wide and catch the whole area in one shot, make a time lapse of it. Then after that break down (edit) this "large time lapse" into one for each individual plant (by cuting one plant at a time from the video?)
Is there any camera capable of taking such high res pictures to make the crops of the plants still look very highly detailed?


Stefan


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Tue Sep 16, 2014 1:12 pm
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Post Re: a difficult project
I know I am going to hate myself for getting involved but here it goes:

Quote:
The timelapse has to be smooth. And of high image quality.

As to why I'm doing this;

I'm not really interested in timelapse at all, or even photography for that matter.


stop right there - this is a project on a massive scale - 150 of anything is huge! I shot for 3 years and got just over 60 plant time lapses (indoors) I had no end of problems with light/bugs/plants that wouldn't grow/power outages/plants growing out of frame/plants falling over... the list goes on and on.

Quote:
I understand the big impact "small breezes" have on plant timelapses now. And why plant timelapses always are done indoors. But surely there should be some software that could fix the flickering and the lightning problems in a timelapse?


This is showing your ignorance of the process - there is NO magic button that fixes thing - everything requires work, hard work - capturing images that shake and flicker require multiple hours to fix and even then they don't look perfect or even watchable.

Quote:
Is it possible to mount the camera at a distance, make it shoot wide and catch the whole area in one shot, make a time lapse of it. Then after that break down (edit) this "large time lapse" into one for each individual plant (by cuting one plant at a time from the video?) Is there any camera capable of taking such high res pictures to make the crops of the plants still look very highly detailed?


again your ignorance of the process is showing - there is no such system - there are gigapan systems but they take 100s or 1000s of photos for each high-res picture - each of those require hours of clean up and stitching and even then there will be no guarantee of consistency between them, in addition to the cost.

Quote:
Building a large X-Y axis rig sounds like a plan B to me. I'd much prefer to try a simpler solution.


even if you could build a x-y rig (which has never been build before) you would need to be a mechanical/computer engineer for the hardware/software problem it would create.

Quote:
I have plans to start a nursery of sorts and let's just say I wanna take it to another level. So I have a vision of what I want it to look like, and achieving this goal, to me, would mean a huge differance. And that's what motivates me.


I don't mean to be a debbie downer and I don't mean to say you are ignorant (just ignorant of the process, which we all were at one point) but I do have a solution and it only require one camera and tripod. Get a camera and a tripod and create a schedule and shoot a still of each plant once every month (or 2 weeks if you really need it) you don't have to shoot all the plants in one day, but make them all the same amount apart time wise. in the end combine the images on to a single printed sheet for each plant - so you can show client what the plant will look like from sprout to leaf drop. you could even create gifs where you fade between the frames to put on the web.

HTH

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Tue Sep 16, 2014 1:24 pm
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Post Re: a difficult project
Along with all the other problems highlighted I have just noticed the photo image you posted as an example is shot in portrait format, it will not crop easily into video format without loosing a great deal of your image. Better to shoot landscape to aid video production.

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Tue Sep 16, 2014 11:13 pm
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Post Re: a difficult project
stiffstrav wrote:
But surely there should be some software that could fix the flickering and the lightning problems in a timelapse?


There are no smooth outdoor time lapses of plants that I've seen, so that should say something about the lack of software for the purpose.

I assume you want to use the footage as a selling point to show potential customers what the plants would look like throughout their lifetime. If that's the reason, it sounds like a good marketing idea, but your way of going about it just isn't possible.


Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:57 am
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Post Re: a difficult project
Not very practical but lighting and wind could be overcome with something like a Lastolite cube adaption positioned over each plant, take photograph, move unit to next plant. Registering the camera in eactly the same position would be problamatic but not imposible.

Just another angle on the problem and one requiring infinite patience :D

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Wed Sep 17, 2014 10:34 am
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Post Re: a difficult project
Thanks for the input and sorry for sounding ignorant.

How about this. To overcome the problems with wind in outdoor timelapses I would build (or rent) a greenhouse. I would place all the plants in pots in one straight line with enough room between them. Probably I would need to U-turn the plants and continue in another line (or the greenhouse would have to be very long.) Then build an automation rig for the camera that would move along the pots and take a shot at the same place of every plant once a day. I'd most likely need the help of a specialized company for this. I would have lights in the greenhouse and take the pictures by night to avoid the lightning problems daytime photos would create.
Could this work?

Only downside is the plants colours would be enhanced in a greenhouse compared to outdoor planting so it will not be a 100% true to customers. Although it is good marketing.

Meanwhile I will use a simpler solution like Pixelbot suggested.


Thu Sep 18, 2014 5:02 am
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Post Re: a difficult project
The greenhouse will help, but you are still dealing with exposure shifts.... Here is a timelapse, im not sure who did it, but i found it on youtube. They seem to be in an area with very little wind, but this is what you should expect to get if you are doing this outside.



The ONLY time i have seen outdoor timelapse pf plants work well is fi the plant is blooming in under a few hours and there are no clouds that could interfere with the sunlight.

You could also try the method the BBC took, which if i remember correctly they found a spot of forest and built a massive light blocking tent, and filled it with artificial light.

I have been filming plants for about a year and a half now. I have finally started to get the sort of results i wanted, my goal was to present biolapse (plant time lapse, i hate the way "plant lapse" clumsily limps off the tounge, biolapse is much smoother sounding) It has been a real challenge, because I really had to sort of figure out everything myself, it is one of the least common types of timelapse and presents a huge host of challenges which is right up my alley.

I have a website http://www.biolapse.com

i really recommend you check it out. (i do not have any sponsors or ads, i don't get paid anything on this website whatsoever)

on that website, i have an ongoing blog which explains the techniques i use, the equipment i use, the issues i have run into, the results i have obtained. Im an open source guy, and I don't like to keep secrets, this website will probably save you thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours.

here is a quick clip, this was shot entirely in my Biolapse studio which is a room in my basement with no windows for total light control and enviornment control.


This is a teaser for my upcoming Carniverous Garden film


And this is my Sedum Tile set, basically this was a small indoor garden I used as a test bed for various techniques to learn how to master the lighting and exposures, and also introduced focus pulls using our Lens Apparatus and one of our Chronos Lite rigs, and a Chronos HD rig.


This is really the only way to do it, build a set, put 5-6 plants in the set, depending on the angles and a couple special shots you could easily make it look like 100+ plants you will need to pay attention to the watering method to maintain a constant moisture level, and make sure you can bring the plants outside between shots. Go with long shutter speeds, at minimum a second or longer. You will need to build in day/night cycles with shooting periods where the grow lights are off and the studio lights are on. None of this has to be expensive, the camera will be, i may even be able to help you our with a system to control the light sequences and such.

I do not get on here as much as i used to, but I'm always willing to help out, best way to contact me is at http://www.projectchronoshelp@gmail.com

The other guys on here answering in, Sciencelookers, Displacement1, Pixelbot, and the rest are also a treasure trove of information timelapse related.

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Thu Sep 18, 2014 6:08 am
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Post Re: a difficult project
Mike's idea of a light, movable wind blocking cubicle is brilliant.
Use it at night with artificial lights and it could work if you can get the cubicle and lights in the same place each time.

The greenhouse is definitely the way to go. It shows you understand all the problems people are warning you about.
Shoot in the greenhouse, only shoot at night. Have the lights permanently fixed so they do not move between shots.
You'll need a dolly to move the camera. Choose one with a track that can be lengthened to the size you need.
I would avoid the U-turn. If necessary, two cameras and two dollies would be more reliable.
I make very long dollies by extending Dynamic Perception's stage zero dolly track using 1030 profile extrusions form 80/20inc.
Here is a list of their extrusion profiles. The 1030 is one by 3 inches. It is what Dynamic uses for their track.

http://www.8020.net/T-Slot-4.asp#10 Series

I get the 20 foot length. At this length it is too flexible, so I usually put another piece at right angles below to make it stiffer.
Here is a video showing it used as a 20 foot cantilever so the dolly can go straight forward without seeing any support for the track.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXvAt9H ... wxV7LdxMAg

In your case, you could build some sort of steel support for the track instead of reinforcing it with another extrusion.
If you can find some hand railing at a scrapyard that might work.
It does help to use another piece of extrusion or a metal plate underneath when joining two sections together.
Filing the ends so there is no lip for the trolley to catch on as it goes from one extrusion to the next helps prevent it from stopping there.
Look through the posts under Dynamic Perception in the Motor Control And Dollies section of the forum for tips on joining track sections.

Here is a link to Dynamic's stage zero options

http://www.dynamicperception.com/Stage- ... s/1819.htm

The other part you'll need to lengthen is the belt that the motor grips to move the trolley. I think it is HTD 5 X9mm wide timing belt.
Lots of places sell it by the foot or meter.

You can make a temporary greenhouse easily using PVC pipe fittings and plastic sheet.
Here is a video showing one which would work well for your plant timelapse

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YCP5wGCqqY

Do you live in the southern hemisphere? Or is winter coming there?


Thu Sep 18, 2014 9:12 am
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Post Re: a difficult project
im not too sold on the greenhouse and shooting at night. At the surface it sounds like a good idea, but You will get variances in exposure due to the moon cycles, some nights the moon will be out bright, the next night it may be behind a cloud, you WILL get flicker unless you cover the greenhouse with a blackout material each night.... Artificial light works great, but you WILL need to go with longer exposures. I have shot Biolapse with strobes, LED's and flourescants, and LED is by far the best lighting source and offers the most consistency(plus it can be turned on and off without getting temp variances), and it is pretty inexpensive.

but even then anything less than maybe 1 second will generally introduce flicker from the lighting source, and those sort of durations will pick up from the light of the moon...

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Thu Sep 18, 2014 9:29 am
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Post Re: a difficult project
That is a really interesting blog site Chris, well worth a read.

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Thu Sep 18, 2014 10:57 am
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Post Re: a difficult project
Thank you Mike!

I posted something about the most recent video a couple weeks ago but my thread seemed to have been deleted. Sometimes i don't think im all that welcome here anymore. Keep an eye on it, i am wrapping up filming and i have some fantastic footage of sundews, flytraps, etc, i hope to have the film complete and online by November, then im going to be done with the carniverous set and will be working on a new project. Im thinking of doing either a 3-4 month timelapse set of some cactus, or, maybe some flowers blooming for a little instant gratification. I post updates to the chronos project facebook page as well as my instagram account.

So many options ;)

I keep thinking about the greenhouse, I think if the OP tries that route he should do something smaller scale as a test first to see if the moon messes up the exposure. I am betting it will, but there may be ways around that problem. There is always more than one way to skin a cat

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Thu Sep 18, 2014 5:12 pm
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Post Re: a difficult project
Quote:
I keep thinking about the greenhouse, I think if the OP tries that route he should do something smaller scale as a test first to see if the moon messes up the exposure. I am betting it will, but there may be ways around that problem. There is always more than one way to skin a cat


Black material on roller blinds fitted to the outside of the greenhouse could help overcome/reduce moonlight problem.

It is amazing how a no can do project can with a little thought and compromise become a "problematic" but practical project :D

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Thu Sep 18, 2014 9:57 pm
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Post Re: a difficult project
Awesome blog and website. Chris, I'll try to read it more thoroughly this winter when I have more time. Very beautiful timelapses! It's a great inspiration for me.

To me the greenhouse sounds like the only option since my plants are "outdoor" plants they would not survive in a house. Moving so many plants in and out sounds like a never ending hassle. In the greenhouse I won't ever have to move them.

The moisture/irrigation has to be fixed, sure, probably best done with a driphosesystem. Else I'll water them by hand by morning. Then it's many hours left for the night shot so it won't affect their appearance.

Thank you for the tip about the moon and the lighting. That probably saved me lots of money and many, many hours right there. I'll go with LED and to block out the moon I'll put something like black roller blinds every night, like Mike suggested.

I'm thinking perhaps the leafsprout will look laggy(too few frames per second) if I'm only shooting one shot / day since the leafsprout happens rather "quickly". Any thoughts on this?

I'm thinking of shooting apil-decmber. That's roughly 240 days. 30 frames per second would yield 8 seconds of playtime. Is it possible to make the movie with 60 frames per second and have a 4 second movie instead? Or any length that seems optimal when I start editing it? (so long I don't go below 30 frames per second to avoid lagg obviously).

Unfortunately I can't start this project as soon as I want to, given the new circumstances. Will probably have to wait 'til spring 2016. I can keep you posted when I start getting some results, like I said though, it will take time. Atleast now I have a pretty good idea of how it's supposed to be done.

Stefan


Fri Sep 19, 2014 4:06 am
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Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 6:07 am
Posts: 629
Location: Sydney
Post Re: a difficult project
stiffstrav wrote:
Thanks for the feedback.


I'm not really interested in timelapse at all, or even photography for that matter.



Stefan


That right there is enough for me to say don't even bother attempting this.. or hire someone to do the whole lot for you.

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Sat Sep 20, 2014 6:46 pm
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