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15 Month Construction Time Lapse?

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15 Month Construction Time Lapse?
« on: 08 / May / 2012, 15:46:43 »
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*ETA*  if this is not the best forum, would the mods please stick it where it's most appropriate?  I apologies if I picked the wrong place. 

Hi Folks, I've been doing some reading and I have found several time lapse threads, just perhaps none quite so ambitions as this.  I'd like to pick your brain and see if I can get some help 1) determining that this will, in fact, work with my goals in mind and 2) optimal choice of camera for this project. 

I work for a small private college in the IT department, and we are looking to make a time-lapse video of a new $14M learning commons that is being built. Construction started about a month ago (they haven't even poured the footings yet) and it is anticipated to run until next august (2013). The powers that be have allocated absolutely ZERO funds for this project, so we are working with just whatever money we can spare out of our own department budget, hopefully just a couple-hundred bucks (max).

I would like to do maybe one photo every 5 minutes or so. We plan to render incremental videos every month or so, maybe a little more frequently, so mini-time lapses with what we have "so far" as we go along. I think over the 15 months of the project, a 5-min interval would give me plenty to work with. I understand an EyeFi SD cards can offload content on the fly and therefore we would not have to change cards out. This is good, and I would hope to incoproate this feature into our set up.

We are in Northwest Iowa. Summers can be 100degrees with 80% humidity, and, conversely, the winters can be -20F with crazy windchills and blizzards.

We have one of these in our boneyard downstairs. It was used for another construction project about ten years ago. The seals seem decent still, and I think it could work decently as an enclosure.  It has a sealed power cord.  The interior dimensions are roughly 4.5" wide and 3.25" tall. So might have to look at maybe an elph style camera to run CHDK? But would that survive 15 months of brutalization?

I would genuinely appreciate any and all feedback you might have for me in this regard. I really wanted PR to allocate $1k or so to put together a full DSLR+Intervalometer+ weatherization kit type setup, but it was a complete no-go. Frankly it's ridiculous considering the massive cost of this new building going up by comparison. But such is the life of working at a non-profit.

Thanks in advance for any comments you may have for me!

Matt
« Last Edit: 08 / May / 2012, 15:55:05 by matt314159 »

Re: 15 Month Construction Time Lapse?
« Reply #1 on: 08 / May / 2012, 16:14:07 »
First thing - CHDK is not for DSLR - for them there is a Magic Lantern. CHDK is for P&S cameras.

Second - humidity and outdoor timelapses - look here: http://chdk.setepontos.com/index.php?topic=7743.0 - cheap and easy ;)

Third - EyeFi cards allows you to download photos from camera and delete the downloaded ones, but I'm not sure, how camera behaves when the photos are removed - it might not update the info about that photos. Just not sure, but I don't think there should be problems

Fourth - photo each 5 minutes - to be done with almost any intervalometer. Just my notes:
- use kind of auto mode in camera due to changing light conditions during the day or calculate the apropriate Tv and/or Av values for each photo (for example like in my intervalometer: http://chdk.setepontos.com/index.php?topic=7757.0 )
- in 'Debug parameters' set 'Restart Lua on error' to ON. Sometimes something goes wrong and script can stop yielding an error. With this option it will be restarted. I have this option always on - I have lost some nice sunrises due to errors (Note - CHDK is the program that runs on completely undocumented systems using the hacks and it's well known that it can cause some interferences with the camera firmware - then some things might fail - script can stop, CHDK can lose the control or even the Canon safety code can turn off the camera - we call this a 'crash' - that's why you HAVE TO check whether the camera still works from time to time).

15 months x 30 days x 24 hours x 12 photos each hour = 129 600 photos. I'm not sure whether the camera is able to survive such continous work. Even without photos at night (not interesting for this purpouse) it is still around 50 000 photos. This might be a problem. However if you'd have a new camera it can be under a varranty - and varranty doesn't say you cant get 50 000 photos in one year ;)
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Re: 15 Month Construction Time Lapse?
« Reply #2 on: 08 / May / 2012, 16:28:08 »
Thanks, outslider.  I am thinking a small P&S for this project, to fit inside the weatherproof housing we already have.  Heck, some of these models of camera can be had for like $40 each these days; All I really need is 1080p which any 4-5MP camera would be able to give me.   Ostensibly I could buy two...configure them identically, and if one goes out, swap the backup one in without fuss.  And still get off pretty cheaply.  I will look into the links you provided.  I would probably like to avoid shooting at night, waste of shutter actuations, etc.  I was thinking I'd probably just set aperture priority and let it figure out the shutter speed;  but then flicker could become an issue;  In previous daytime time lapses I've set full manual exposure, but I don't think this would work, even if I was only shooting during the day, because cloudy days would then be severely underexposed, etcetra.  Unless anyone has a solid argument for manual mode, I'd probably just go aperture-priority.  The enclosure has AC power so power's not a concern.

Ordinarily I'd shoot in raw, edit in LR4 and then export a time lapse, but I think like 3.2MP JPG fine mode or equivalent would probably be fine for this project. 

Sorry I'm all over the place, never done anything quite so long before...lots of different things bouncing around in my mind.  The main thing being, can the camera handle the torture for an acceptible length of time.  I don't care if I have to go through 2-3 cameras over the course of this project, I don't think the final product would be hurt much if I had a day or so go missing from the shoot.  I would go for more time in between intervals, except we might be doing updates once or twice a month.  shooting 10hrs a day (say 7AM to 5PM) @ 5 min intervals is about 5 seconds a day.  In a "final" render, I can probably just pull every X frame as needed to shorten the whole thing up, as the video would be like 40 minutes long if I left all the frames in.   

Re: 15 Month Construction Time Lapse?
« Reply #3 on: 08 / May / 2012, 18:36:19 »
Unless anyone has a solid argument for manual mode, I'd probably just go aperture-priority. 
Many of the smaller / cheaper Canon's don't actually have a variable aperature so you actually don't have a lot of choice there.

Quote
Ordinarily I'd shoot in raw, edit in LR4 and then export a time lapse, but I think like 3.2MP JPG fine mode or equivalent would probably be fine for this project. 
If the goal is a time lapse video,  then there doesn't seem to be much point in shooting RAW and dealing with all the potential issue with image correction.  Don't forget that CHDK RAW gets you exactly what the sensor sees - which can be pretty rough as the Canon JPEG conversion takes much of that out automatically.

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The main thing being, can the camera handle the torture for an acceptible length of time.  I don't care if I have to go through 2-3 cameras over the course of this project, I don't think the final product would be hurt much if I had a day or so go missing from the shoot.  I would go for more time in between intervals, except we might be doing updates once or twice a month.  shooting 10hrs a day (say 7AM to 5PM) @ 5 min intervals is about 5 seconds a day.  In a "final" render, I can probably just pull every X frame as needed to shorten the whole thing up, as the video would be like 40 minutes long if I left all the frames in.   
That looks like a pretty nice CCTV enclosure.  I'd worry more about the -20 deg F weather than the +100 - is there anyway you can install a small heater ?
Ported :   A1200    SD940   G10    Powershot N    G16


Re: 15 Month Construction Time Lapse?
« Reply #4 on: 08 / May / 2012, 18:43:18 »
Unless anyone has a solid argument for manual mode, I'd probably just go aperture-priority. 
Many of the smaller / cheaper Canon's don't actually have a variable aperature so you actually don't have a lot of choice there.

Quote
Ordinarily I'd shoot in raw, edit in LR4 and then export a time lapse, but I think like 3.2MP JPG fine mode or equivalent would probably be fine for this project. 
If the goal is a time lapse video,  then there doesn't seem to be much point in shooting RAW and dealing with all the potential issue with image correction.  Don't forget that CHDK RAW gets you exactly what the sensor sees - which can be pretty rough as the Canon JPEG conversion takes much of that out automatically.

Quote
The main thing being, can the camera handle the torture for an acceptible length of time.  I don't care if I have to go through 2-3 cameras over the course of this project, I don't think the final product would be hurt much if I had a day or so go missing from the shoot.  I would go for more time in between intervals, except we might be doing updates once or twice a month.  shooting 10hrs a day (say 7AM to 5PM) @ 5 min intervals is about 5 seconds a day.  In a "final" render, I can probably just pull every X frame as needed to shorten the whole thing up, as the video would be like 40 minutes long if I left all the frames in.   
That looks like a pretty nice CCTV enclosure.  I'd worry more about the -20 deg F weather than the +100 - is there anyway you can install a small heater ?

Thanks for the feedback.  My usual DSLR workflow for a timelapse is to shoot manual, raw, then in LR I can make the adjustments and send them across the whole set.  Need to get out of the dslr mindset ;-) 

I will look at what there are for heaters.  I know for Dish satellite subscribers you can get a little peel-n-stick heater thing that warms the dish enough that ice melts off it.  maybe something like that?  I dunno. 

Re: 15 Month Construction Time Lapse?
« Reply #5 on: 08 / May / 2012, 18:48:37 »
I will look at what there are for heaters.  I know for Dish satellite subscribers you can get a little peel-n-stick heater thing that warms the dish enough that ice melts off it.  maybe something like that?  I dunno. 
I suppose the worst part of it being cold is actually the effect on battery life.  Which is not your worry.  Yuo might be okay as long as the lens doesn't feel the need to focus...
Ported :   A1200    SD940   G10    Powershot N    G16

Re: 15 Month Construction Time Lapse?
« Reply #6 on: 08 / May / 2012, 18:58:31 »
Follow-up question: 

Is there any one specific model that stands out as being a good candidate to accomplish this?  can't be more than 4.5" wide, including any power connections that may come off the side, so needs to be a smaller unit.  But if there are any that run CHDK better than others, or that tend to be more reliable than others, or the best "bang for your buck" etc, I'm all ears.  Again, just needs to be maybe 3.2MP max, as anything else is overkill because it will get downsized to 1080p max anyhow. 

I will have power in that box, which is a good thing, I think I mentioned that before as well but just in case I didn't. 

Re: 15 Month Construction Time Lapse?
« Reply #7 on: 08 / May / 2012, 19:32:54 »
Is there any one specific model that stands out as being a good candidate to accomplish this?  ca
I'm not sure anyone will have  good answer to that question beyond "whatever you can get cheaply".
Ported :   A1200    SD940   G10    Powershot N    G16


Re: 15 Month Construction Time Lapse?
« Reply #8 on: 08 / May / 2012, 20:43:31 »
Fair enough, I will look around and see if anything catches my eye.  Since I'm buying it to fit in a pre-existing enclosure, I think that will be a factor as well.  i.e I will need the tripod mount to be right in the middle, max width of the camera body, etc, etc. 

*eta* ...is it a safe assumption that ANY camera running CHDK will have what it takes to run the various timelapse scripts?  Are certain features enabled/disabled depending on hardware limitations?  Any guidelines at all?  I'm all ears for even the most general guidance.  There are so many compatible cameras out there, and many under $50, that it's kind of overwhelming...a good problem to have, don't get me wrong!
« Last Edit: 08 / May / 2012, 21:19:03 by matt314159 »

Re: 15 Month Construction Time Lapse?
« Reply #9 on: 08 / May / 2012, 21:40:48 »
is it a safe assumption that ANY camera running CHDK will have what it takes to run the various timelapse scripts? 
Yes

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Are certain features enabled/disabled depending on hardware limitations? 
Nothing worth worrying about.

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Any guidelines at all?
You will need an A/C adapter of some sort.  Most models have a Canon version for $100 and a version shipped out of China for $8.

Quote
  I'm all ears for even the most general guidance.  There are so many compatible cameras out there, and many under $50, that it's kind of overwhelming...a good problem to have, don't get me wrong!
Where are you getting sub-$50 Canon P&S cameras ?  eBay ?   The only caution is that not all cameras have a CHDK version and sometimes a camera might be supported but a particular firmware version might not. 
Ported :   A1200    SD940   G10    Powershot N    G16

 

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