Long Time Lapse Project

One day, purely on a whim, I decided to plunk down a camcorder with a time-lapse feature and just let it run for a long time. I would then speed it up and blend the sped-up frames together, making very slow natural processes (like the movement of the sun) nice and fast and smooth. I’ve always enjoyed the way shadows move while the sun moves, so this was going to be awesome in my mind. The camcorder has a low-light mode which uses very long shutter speeds as needed, allowing for automated night video shooting. I love long-exposure night photography, so of course I’m going to love a low-light time-lapse!

My initial run with this was a time lapse representing a 40-hour period of time compressed into a 5-minute video. Unfortunately, the clouds and rain ruined the neat shadow movements for much of that time, but I did capture some neat shots of vehicle lights on the road and rain pouring down overnight. I spent about 4 hours editing and rendering out that first video and reviewing it. There were some problems, particularly the light from inside hitting the blinds and the television bleeding through, making the shot look kind of crummy while I was awake. To fix this, I cut out a hole in one side of a dark piece of scrapbook craft paper and taped it to the window where I was shooting to block most of the interior light. I also covered the still-exposed part of the cutout with a black sock (classy, I know…but it worked.) I put tape under the camcorder so that it remained in the same spot, keeping the jumps between SD card dumps mostly aligned.

Subsequent night shots turned out to be far better. The camera’s framing became much more consistent. I was encouraged by the results with these modifications, so I let it run until I had about 6 days of footage (the 32GB SD card had to be dumped no later than every 27-28 hours or recording would stop and I would probably never notice.) The new time lapse was much faster and much more satisfying, with less cloud cover and rain. This was very encouraging. I decided, after viewing the fruits of my labor, to continue this time lapse project indefinitely…or at least until I was tired of bothering with it.

My goal (at the time of this writing) is to record at least a month of time lapse footage and produce a very short video of the entire month. A video of the sun whooshing by in a matter of seconds repeatedly is such a cool idea in my mind. While others have done this sort of thing before, it’s a much bigger deal to me when it’s my own work! I hope you enjoy these videos as much as I have enjoyed making them.