Monday, February 01, 2010

Getting Started in Timelapse: Episode 1: Total Fail

I’ve been so intrigued by the time lapse video’s produced by Philip Bloom (and others) that I decided to give it a try.

I already have a TC80N3, the Canon Timer Remote Controller that you can use to automatically take a sequence of images. I'd just never used it to take long sequences. I was using it with an older Canon 10D. Note: I believe that Nikon SLRs have a self-timer capability built-in; Canon DSLRs require the controller.

It took a while to figure out again how to use the controller - I’ve lost the manual - but it’s pretty simple: you can set a delay before it starts shooting, as well as the time between pcitures, and the number of pictures to take. The latter is entered as a number between 1 and 99: if you set it to 00, then it continues the sequence indefinitely.

The next question was; what to take, and what setting to use? I was hoping for a nice cloud scape, but as luck would have it, the morning dawned bright and clear. Not a cloud in the sky.

Meanwhile, reading up on Philip Blooms blog post, he’s a bit unclear on the settings to use; making it sound a bit like it’s as much luck as anything. I did decide to use aperture priority, though.

In the end, a few clouds appeared at the end of the day, and I thought I'd capture a bit of that, as well as the sun going down. It was cold when I got down to the park to experiment. I set the camera up on a tripod and pressed the button on the timer. It took two pictures and then stopped with an ERR 02. I’ve never encountered that error before, and I thought it might be a problem writing to the card, so I increased the time between takes and started it all over again. Same thing happened. So then I lowered the aperture because I thought maybe it was a shutter speed error. Started it up again, and this time it seemed to work...

I came back a few minutes later to check on it and the camera was shut off; the battery in the camera was flat! The battery was several years old, and had been exhibiting shortened life prior to this; I guess the extreme cold only shortened it's capacity even more and I’d taken a total of only 26 pictures before it died!

On The Bright Side
I did manage to use the Open Sequence function in QuickTime 7 Pro to import the sequence (setting the frames-per-second to 24) to create a clip which I imported into Final Cut Pro, just as Philip suggests. It worked just fine; even if the sequence was short! So now I’m ordering a new battery, and going to try it all over again.

Other Lessons Learned
Experimenting again after I got home, I realized I hadn't taken one piece of Philip's advice; I hadn't turned off the auto focus.

I also - after the fact - experimented with mirror-lockup. Unfortunately, though the 10D has a mirror lock-up function it seems to work only for one image; i.e. you can't lock it up permanently for a sequence. If anyone can prove me wrong (i.e. tell me how to get the mirror to lock-up for an entire sequence) I'd appreciate it!

Finally, though I did a Google search on the ERR 02, the responses were a bit vague, suggesting it might be a card problem. I have reformatted the card in the camera to see if that does anything

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