Monday, February 9, 2009

iPhone time lapse

Because I have this ongoing obsession with time lapse, I'm always looking for more obscure ways to create time lapse video. This weeks challenge includes a little stitching (which I outlined in an earlier post), a home made iPhone stand, and an incense candle that my girlfriend likes to burn.

First I'd like to start with a quick review of the application that I used on the iPhone to capture the images appropriately named "TimeLapse". It has a standard, and fair price of .99 cents and works as advertised. It's made up of two pages that allow you to set the speed at which pictures are taken, frame your shot, and shoot your pictures. Below is a picture of the first screen you see after launching the app:

On this screen you can set the rate at which your pictures are taken, how many pictures you want to take, and what quality you want to shoot at.

I really liked everything about this app, and can really only say the one thing I didn't like was that, although you have the choice to try and take pictures every second, you can actually take pictures at about 10 second intervals. This is something the developer states upfront however, so it's hard to knock the app on that. I'm sure this is a hardware limitation anyway, so what can you do?

Now, before we get into the quick rundown on how to make the video, here is what I came up with. It's short and sweet and was really just a proof of concept.

Ok, here's what you need to do to make time lapse videos with your iPhone:

  1. Install the TimeLapse application on your iPhone
  2. Buy/create a tripod for your phone. I had an arm laying around from an old satellite radio, and here is what I came up with:

    Doing some timelapse with my iPhone
  3. After securing your iPhone to the tripod (I did this in portrait mode, but I'd do it in landscape next time), put your phone in airplane mode so you don't get a call that messes up your shot.
  4. Get plenty of lighting in place, set your timing to something reasonable (you may have to try a few times to get it just right), and then start the app
  5. After letting the app run for the desired amount of time, stop and take the phone off the tripod and head to the computer
  6. All you need to do now is plug the phone into the computer, and then access the pictures like any digital camera. On Windows, you can go to my computer, and you'll see the iPhone listed under cameras. On the Mac, you should be prompted to download them, and on Ubuntu, you'll be prompted as well.
  7. Now all you need to do is stitch the pictures together using some software like ffmpeg. You can learn how to do that here

Anyway, if you're ever out and about and want to make a quick time lapse, fire up your iPhone and let it run...

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