Time-Lapse Creation

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The mission of this site is to explore time-lapse motion-picture photography and motion-controlled cinematography for scientific purposes and artistic curiosity.

All footage on this web site is currently not for sale but is available cost-free for schools, non-profit organizations and government. Please contact me (KHashmi316 at fastmail dot com) for more information.

Laptop-controlled Canon Digital Rebel using Breeze Systems DSLR Remote Pro was used for this time-lapse sequence.
The image below is a still from this sequence (the constellation captions were added to this image only and are not part of the movie):
still from this sequence -- click for movie

Below are images of a self-built, microprocessor-controlled "Panobot". In its present design, it acts like a turntable to rotate a camera on a vertical axis. It is programmed for a range of rotating speeds including very-slow, incremental, and rapid. It is made from LEGO parts and LEGO Mindstorm hardware; programming was done in NQC language (see below).

The program that controls basic "stepper" movements is below:

#define BOTH_MOTORS OUT_A + OUT_C // macro for both mtrs
#define LEFT_MOTOR OUT_A // macro for left mtrs
#define RIGHT_MOTOR OUT_C // macro for right mtrs

task main()

until ((SENSOR_1==1) && (SENSOR_3==1)) {

SetPower(LEFT_MOTOR, 7);


// end of program.

Stills from time-lapse sequences shot from January to March 2005:

Sunset at White Point Bluff park, San Pedro, CA
above: Sunset at White Point Bluff park, San Pedro, CA. Sample movie available on request.

image Looking north-west from Redondo Beach, CA
above: Looking north-west from Redondo Beach, CA. Sample movie available on request.

image: Looking north-east from Marina Del Rey (Ballona creek), CA
above: Looking north-east from Marina Del Rey (Ballona creek), CA

How to Create a High-Resolution Time-Lapse segment

Tools needed:

Digital Camera and remote control
Camera-Controlling Software (optional but recommended)

Advanced Batch Convert (ABC)
Apple Quick Time Pro (QT)
Digital Video Conversion Software (e.g. Ulead Video Studio, Canopus, Adobe, Pinnacle)




Choose subject matter (e.g. clouds) and depress remote button at regular intervals (e.g. every 10 sec.) for a certain length of time. Exactly how long depends on your specific needs. One second equals 24 or 30 frames basically so if you want a 10 second clip, capture 240 to 300 frames. The interval can be determined by the time period over which the time-lapse is taking place. For example if you want it to take place over one hour, 300 frames in an hour is basically 5 frames taken every minute or one shot every 12 seconds. If you want the time-lapse to take place over 5 hours you take 60 pics an hour or one every minute.

If you’re manually triggering the shutter remote, a stopwatch helps to time each frame. Or you can count 1-1000, 2-1000, 3-1000, etc.

Alternatively, use a shutter remote in locked position, and let the camera "fire away". Using a Canon Digital Rebel, in "continuous shooting" mode, the frame-rate starts out at ~2.5 frames/second for roughly the first 20 frames. Then, the frame-rate slows to an almost-steady rate of 1 frame every 4 seconds; it will continue at this rate (without slowing down further) until the memory card is full (or until you stop capturing). I have found this "default" rate quite acceptable for time-lapse photography.


If you have a laptop computer, you may also use camera-controlling software. Sometimes, a digital camera will come with such software, so check the owner's manual. Breeze Systems, a third-party software company, sells programs for Canon cameras. They allow control and image-manipulation functions beyond that of the software that comes pre-packaged with the camera.

Image Processing and Rendering

Open ABC, and select Batch Mode. Choose folder with images (use a dedicated folder for each sequentially-taken and scene-specific image sequence) and click Add all. Tweak images (brightness, contrast, etc.) using Advanced options. Modify output file names as necessary (see below). Output should be *.tiff. Click Start. This will take a while to process.

In QT, choose File > Open Image Sequence… > (Select folder with images; use a dedicated folder for each sequentially-taken and scene-specific images) > choose Frame Rate (23.97 o4 29.97 fps). Then choose File > Save As > give it a file name, select “Make movie self contained”, and click Save. This will take a while to process. CAUTIONS: (a) file names must not be too long; use ABC to modify file names. (2) QT performs and finishes this task w/o status indicators.

QT’s output format can be changed (e.g., AVI, etc.) using the Export feature. Alternatively, convert from *.mov to another format using Ulead or Canopus.

Canopus ProCoder Express Notes:

Canopus is faster than Ulead and can create Apple *.mov files. It’s a bit trickier to configure, but the results are well worth the learning curve.

Ulead Notes:
Video Save Options:
Uncheck “Perform non-square pixel rendering”
Select Frame rate to match that chosen in QT rendering.

Canon Digital Rebel Notes:


Results of “Err 99” test using DSLR Remote. Two tests, 200 shots each, with shutter set to 1” for first and 1/60 for second, and 10-sec interval between shots for both test REVEALED NO PROBLEM. Problem may be due to use of Remote Control.

Post on dpreview.com 2005-03-27:

ERR 99 related to remote (RS60-E3) use?

On my EOS 300D, I have noted the infamous ERR 99 *randomly* cropping up while using Canon's RS60-E3 remote control. I purchased the EOS 300D in December 2004 from a reputable US dealer (B&H Photo) and have not used it that much. When I do use it, it is with the purpose of creating time-lapse movies; this requires either using either the aforementioned remote or camera-controlling software (e.g. BreezeSystems DSLR Remote Pro).

During my use, ERR 99 seems to occur *only* when using the remote – this is an inference based on specific experiments I conducted to induce ERR 99. That is, for equal number of shots – all with identical camera setting and intervals between shots – my EOS 300D erred only when RS60-E3 was in use. I have not noticed this error when using the *camera’s* shutter release but, alas, this button is not used frequently enough in my experience to make a statistically-valid inference.


"ERR 99" issue resolved. The error was indeed cause by repeatedly depressing the contact switch on the RS60-E3. If one locks the remote switch, and lets the camera fire away on its own, the problem does not crop up. I have now shot over 80,000 frames without "ERR 99" ever appearing.

Time-lapse home

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