Quick and cheap time-lapse photography

FrameByFrame is a cool little app that will allow you to make stop-motion animation’s with any connected webcam, and it’s free.

Boinx iStopMotion will do time lapse. They offer a free five day demo, and it does lots of very useful things with all kinds of different settings. It’s also $50.00 US

FrameByFrame isn’t scriptable, though iStopMotion is. 

Apple’s Automator is a great little wrapper for a lot of system functions. The Loop action affects only the connected action, not the whole workflow, and the Watch Me Do is tediously slow.  I didn’t bust a nut trying to get a very simple workflow working which was supposed to launch FrameByFrame, click the Capture menu item, pause and repeat. This shouldn’t be this hard.

I thought Image Capture might be useable, but, neither does it see the webcam.

iMovie HD‘s Make A Magic Movie can’t be set to pause, shoot, repeat, though it will shoot continuously for a set period of time but it doesn’t see the USB webcam. It will take a great bunch of still pictures and export as a movie though. So close.

But this is a Mac. I know there’s a way to do this. I look at Automator again. Under the Photo actions there is Take Video SnapshotTake Video Snapshot in Automator try it out… pops up a window showing what the camera sees… Hmmm, it’s noisy but it sees the attached USB webcam! Alright! Add the Loop action from UtilitiesIt increments the saved image names automatically… add Pause… add Set Computer Volume,

 click Mute, set the folder for the Snapshot action to save to (I created a new folder in the Finder and went back to the action); set the times for Loop; set the Pause time… click Run… a folder full of consecutive still images.

iMovie makes it impossible to remove the Ken Burns effect and set the time for the display of the images. Forget that. FrameByFrame doesn’t take Drag and Drop.

Hmmm, Quicktime Player… That’s it… FileOpen Image Sequence… select the first image renamed to ‘Video Snapshot 0.tiff’, set the display rate; 6 frames per second… Voila! my son wasting his youth playing computer games.

Tweaks to do, yes, but it works.

Sunday; May 25, 2008 12:17 PM Update: pond 1-desktop.m4v

One comment

  1. First attempt at a longer unattended filming fails. I suspect the Mac, being on a battery, shut down something that stopped the action. I set up the Mac then running from a power cord and shot a short test film.

    I decide to remove the Set Volume action from the Automator workflow. The sound feedback might be useful in the future to let you know when the filming has stopped, in situations where the sound wouldn’t disturb things. It’s probably easier to set the Mute button on the laptop in those cases, or set the volume very low.

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